Michael Jordan buys NASCAR team and signs driver Bubba Wallace

Tanya Simon
September 22, 2020

Jordan will co-own a racing team with Denny Hamlin and they already have their first driver for the 2021 series.

"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", he said.

Now for some specifics - Denny is said to have purchased the charter from Germain Racing, with MJ serving as the principal owner and Denny as a minority partner as he continues to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Hamlin noted that his friendship with Jordan began at an National Basketball Association game 11 years ago in Charlotte, just after the latter became majority owner of the then-Bobcats, and that he became the first NASCAR driver signed to the Nike subsidiary Jordan Brand. The timing seemed ideal as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more.

The 57-year-old also intends to "open more opportunities for black people in racing".

There's been speculation for months that Hamlin was organizing some sort of ownership group as he expects NASCAR's business model to become more favorable for team owners when the "Next Gen" vehicle is released in 2022.

Hamlin's announcement did not mention a auto number or primary sponsor.

Hamlin, a three-time Daytona 500 victor and a top contender for this year's Cup title, will be part of a single-car Toyota entry aligned with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Current Richard Petty Motorsports driver Bubba Wallace has signed a multi-year deal to drive for the yet-to-be-named, single-car operation.

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Denny Hamlin (right) has partnered with Michael Jordan to start a new NASCAR Cup Series team. His best finish thus far in the season-long competition was second in 2010, and this year he is in second place in the points race as NASCAR winnows its playoff field en route to its championship finale November 8.

The 6 time NBA Finals MVP saw an opportunity to invest in an African-American driver in Bubba Wallace.

Hamlin, who will not be racing for the team, said Wallace, the only driver of colour in NASCAR, was the obvious choice to take the wheel for the newly founded team.

A Mobile native, Wallace is in his third season as a full-time Cup Series driver.

"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 via his Instagram account.

Wallace made headlines in June when he called on Nascar to ban the Confederate flag from races in the wake of George Floyd's death.

The partnership was announced Monday night in coordinated social media posts by Jordan and Hamlin, with Wallace adding his own comment. "I'm grateful and humbled that Michael and Denny believe in me and I'm super pumped to begin this adventure with them".

"We wish Michael and hos team tremendous success". NASCAR also created a new role within their organization with a VP for Diversity and Inclusion and launched a commitment to initiatives to enhance the diversity of the sport at all levels.

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