Basketball legend Michael Jordan is the newest NASCAR team owner. The 57-year-old will oversee a NASCAR Cup Series team with the only Black, NASCAR top racer, Bubba Wallace, as a featured driver. Jordan will be the majority owner while NASCAR’s Denny Hamlin will serve as a minority owner.
“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,” said Jordan 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.”
Jordan says he wants to educate a new audience and open up more opportunities for Black people in racing, something he believes will be possible with Wallace by his side.
“I think (Bubba) has the potential to be (a champion). If I didn’t think so, I wouldn’t get into this,” Jordan said. “Luck has a lot of do (with winning) in a lot of sports. But if you feel you have the same knowledge and the same equipment, you give yourself a chance. Then it’s all up to the driver.”
Many are excited to see Jordan and Wallace diversify a sport that has historically lacked Black representation.
“A lot of what I call closet NASCAR fans are Black fans,” said Bill Lester, who for years was the only Black driver in NASCAR’s top series. “Now with Jordan opening the door to the sport, I think that that’s going to go a long way.”
Wallace will get behind the wheel for the new team in the 2021 NASCAR Cup series.