Michael Jordan Launches a NASCAR Team – Signs Bubba Wallace First
NBA legend Michael Jordan has announced that Bubba Wallace will be the first driver on his new "inclusive" NASCAR team.
NBA legend Michael Jordan shocked his fans this week by announcing that he is teaming up with NASCAR superstar Denny Hamlin to create a new racing team with Bubba Wallace as the team’s headlining driver.
Wallace dominated headlines this past year as the driver who first demanded NASCAR ban the Confederate flag from races and triggered an FBI investigation over an alleged “noose” in his garage.
Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin will start a new NASCAR Cup Series team for the 2021 season.
Bubba Wallace has signed a multi-year deal as the team's first racer. pic.twitter.com/I2PNbvkqje
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 22, 2020
Michael Jordan Launches “Inclusive” NASCAR Team – Signs Bubba Wallace
In announcing his new NASCAR team, Jordan said that his goal is to make racing more inclusive. At the moment, Wallace is the only black driver at the top level of NASCAR.
“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 said. “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.”
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“Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners,” the NBA legend added. “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.”
Michael Jordan Partners With NASCAR Driver Denny Hamlin
Jordan will be the principal owner of the new team, with Denny Hamlin serving as a minority partner. The No. 11 Toyota driver has 43 wins, including a triumph at the Daytona 500.
Aside from working with Jordan’s NASCAR team, Hamlin will continue to drive the No. 11 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing.
“Starting a race team has been something that Michael and I have talked about while playing golf together over the years, but the timing or circumstances were never really right,” Hamlin said. “It just makes sense now to lay the foundation for my racing career after I’m done driving and also help an up-and-coming driver like Bubba take his career to a higher level. Plus, Michael and Bubba can be a powerful voice together, not only in our sport, but also well beyond it.”
Bubba Wallace spoke out as well to express his excitement about joining Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin in this venture.
“This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career,” said Wallace. “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. I’m grateful and humbled that Michael and Denny believe in me and I’m super pumped to begin this adventure with them.”
Bubba Wallace’s NASCAR “Noose” Scandal
Earlier this month, Richard Petty Motorsports announced that Wallace would not be re-signing, making him a free agent.
Wallace, who had driven the No. 43 car for RPM for the entirety of his Cup Series career, released a statement just minutes after the RPM announcement:
“This was not an easy decision as I have nothing but the utmost respect for Richard Petty and his family, but I believe it’s time for someone else to take over the reins of the No. 43,” Wallace wrote. “Thank you to the King and everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to start my Cup Series career. I’ve grown so much as a driver and as a person since joining them. We’ve got nine more races together and I hope we can finish the 2020 season on a high note.”
Wallace’s decision to not renew with Richard Petty Motorsports followed on the heels of his NASCAR “noose” scandal in June. The NASCAR driver made headlines when he told authorities that he had found what he described as a noose in his racing garage.
The FBI then launched an investigation. Their conclusion: the “noose” was a garage door pull made out of rope. One that was there long before Wallace was assigned to the garage.
Neither Michael Jordan nor Bubba Wallace addressed the previous season’s “noose” scandal during their announcement.
Obviously, all of the headlines have paid off in a big way for Bubba Wallace. Much like Colin Kaepernick.
That certainly speaks volume about the state (and priorities) of pro sports in America today.