Michael Jordan will take on a new challenge in 2021 – stock-car racing.
Jordan bought a NASCAR Cup Series charter and Bubba Wallace will be his driver. Racing great Denny Hamlin is also a co-owner on the team. “His Airness” will run during the 2021 NASCAR Cup season.
“This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career. I’m grateful and humbled that they believe in me and I’m super pumped to begin this adventure with them,” Wallace tweeted.
In a separate statement Hamlin said that Wallace has shown tremendous improvement since joining the Cup Series.
"He deserves the opportunity to compete for race wins and our team will make sure he has the resources to do just that," Hamlin said. "Off the track, Bubba has been a loud voice for change in our sport and our country. MJ and I support him fully in those efforts and stand beside him.”
Hamlin added that while he’s starting the new ownership group with Jordan, he still is focused on a title for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Michael Jordan said he's been a NASCAR fan his whole life.
“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. "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."
NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been a few Black owners, Jordan said.
"The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more," he said. "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.”
Wallace currently drives for Richard Petty Motorsports, but is leaving the team at the end of this season. He’s made 105 starts at the highest level of NASCAR.
Wallace, whose best finish in the series is his second-place showing at the 2018 Daytona 500, did not advance to the playoffs this year. The Alabama native rose to prominence this year as a leader in NASCAR's response to the Black Lives Matter movement with support from team owner Richard Petty who stood by his side at Talladega Superspeedway after a rope tied into a noose was found in his garage that was later determined to not be a message of hate directed at him.