NBA superstar Michael Jordan has partnered with Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin in the formation of a new NASCAR Cup Series team, with Bubba Wallace as the driver, the new organization announced on Monday.
The yet-to-be-named team has completed the purchase of the No. 13 Germain Racing team’s charter, setting the stage for Jordan to become the first full-time Black majority owner in the NASCAR Cup Series since Wendell Scott in the 1970s.
"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. "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.”
With Hamlin, 39, still competing full-time in the No. 11 Toyota with JGR, Jordan will serve as primary owner of the team. Hamlin is named as a minority partner through the remainder of his tenure with Gibbs. The Gibbs' relationship also opens the door for a technical alliance with Toyota.
"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.”
Wallace, who turns 27 next month, has agreed to a multi-year deal with the team. He has three top-fives and nine top 10s in 105 starts. Wallace is the first full-time Black driver since NASCAR Hall of Famer Scott competed from 1961 to 1973.
"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. I’m grateful and humbled that Michael and Denny believe in me, and I’m super pumped to begin this adventure with them."
While a number has yet to be selected, the No. 23 has a nice ring to it.