Charlotte Hornets principal owner and chairman Michael Jordan has added to his sports portfolio, joining Denny Hamlin in forming a new NASCAR team that will take to the track starting in 2021. Denny Hamlin will be a minority owner in the team while still driving his usual 11 car for Joe Gibbs Racing.
The partnership between Jordan and Hamlin isn’t surprising. Hamlin is a longtime Hornets season ticket holder and is a mainstay on the sidelines during Hornets home games. He’s a Jordan Brand athlete, and the friendship between he and Jordan goes back several years.
As for who will actually be driving for the team—that’s already been figured out. Bubba Wallace has signed on to be the team’s sole driver. Wallace is the only African American racing at NASCAR’s top level, and Jordan is the first Black principal owner in NASCAR since the 1970s, so this partnership between the two is pretty groundbreaking.
Jordan’s statement on the new venture:
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. 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.