Living NBA legend and owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan might have been off the court for a few years now, but that does not mean the star athlete is slowing down anytime soon. Taking on a new challenge, the 57-year-old sports icon has teamed up with three-time Daytona 500 winner, Denny Hamlin to create his very own NASCAR Cup Series team.
The team plans to compete in the 2021 season with Bubba Wallace as their first driver. This new initiative is not only exciting for Jordan as a longtime NASCAR fan, but he also hopes that the new team will help diversify the race car world and pave new opportunities for minorities in racing.
Embracing Social Change
“Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners. The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more,” Jordan said on NBA.com.
He continued by saying, “In addition to the recent commitment and donations I have made to combat systemic racism, I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing.”
Jordan has been outspoken about racial injustice and ongoing police brutality. In an effort to combat the issue, Michael along with his successful retail brand, Jordan Brand have pledged to donate $100 million to Black Lives Matters causes over the next decade.
Setting The Precedent
Bubba Wallace is currently the only full-time African American driver in NASCAR’s Cup Series. Before joining Jordan’s new yet-to-be-named team, Wallace was racing for Richard Petty Motorsports team, which he has been with the past three racing seasons.
“This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career,” Wallace said. “Both Michael and Denny are great competitors and are focused on building the best team they possibly can to go out and compete for race wins.”
Like Jordan, Wallace has been making efforts to involve NASCAR in the Black Lives Matter narrative that has been sweeping the nation in recent months. In June, he called for the ban of waving the confederate flags at races, which the league eventually approved. He also changed the paint scheme of his race car to show support for the BLM movement.