As if Michael Jordan hasn’t completed enough historical feats, he’s ready to make history again.
The NBA Hall of Famer now not only owns the Charlotte Hornets, but he’s now decided to start his own NASCAR team alongside Denny Hamlin. Hamlin is a professional racer himself, so he can definitely help Jordan learn the ins and outs of the sport. Jordan’s latest venture not only makes history as a Black majority team owner, but he also nabbed the sport’s only elite Black driver in Bubba Wallace.
Jordan knows how pivotal the move is and is ready to make noise in a different type of arena.
“Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners,” Jordan said in his statement. “The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more.”
The former Chicago Bull is the first Black principal owner of a NASCAR team since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott drove his own race car in nearly 500 races from 1961 to 1973. In fact, Scott’s 1964 victory at the Jacksonville 200 is the only win by a Black driver in Cup history.
For Jordan, it’s also about nostalgia.
“Growing up in North Carolina, my parents would take my brothers, sisters and me to races, and I’ve been a NASCAR fan my whole life,” Jordan, the Charlotte Hornets owner, said in a statement. “The opportunity to own my own racing team in partnership with my friend, Denny Hamlin, and to have Bubba Wallace driving for us, is very exciting for me. 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. 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.”
Hamlin reveals that the historic announcement was many years in the making, as he was the first racer to be a Jordan Brand athlete.
“Eleven years ago I met Michael Jordan at a then-Charlotte Bobcats game and we became fast friends,” Hamlin wrote. “Not long after, I joined Jordan Brand as their first NASCAR athlete. Our friendship has grown over the years and now we are ready to take it to the next level.”
He added that choosing who’d be representing the newly formed team on the track wasn’t hard at all.
“Deciding on the driver was easy — it had to be Bubba Wallace.”