Michael Jordan and driver Denny Hamlin are forming a new NASCAR Cup Series race team that will begin competing in the 2021 season.
The 6x NBA champion and Denny Hamlin were good friends for some time now. The two went into business together when Hamlin became the first NASCAR driver to sign with Jordan Brand. Now, they’re teaming up in a different way and forming a racing team.
Jordan and Hamlin’s team consists of just one driver in 2021. It just so happens to be the only black driver in NASCAR’s highest level. Star driver Bubba Wallace signed a multi-year deal to drive for Jordan’s team. Both Jordan and Hamlin have been at the forefront of the fight for racial equality recently, so Wallace was a perfect choice for their driver.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 22, 2020
Speaking on the forming the team, Jordan said –
“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 systematic racism, I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing.”
Hamlin also commented on the signing of Bubba Wallace by saying –
“Deciding on the driver was easy — it had to be Bubba Wallace. Bubba has shown tremendous improvement since joining the Cup Series, and we believe he’s ready to take his career to a higher level.”
“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.”
Bubba Wallace Gets a Breakthrough NASCAR Victory at Talladega
Wallace’s NASCAR Cup win was the first by a Black driver since 1963 and also the inaugural victory in the sport’s top series for Michael Jordan, the co-owner of Wallace’s team. Additionally, it once and for all silenced some of the hate, he received during driver introductions on race day.
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) October 4, 2021
Speaking on the Victory, Michael Jordan said –
“You’re fighting from within to achieve something. And when you achieve it, it’s far more gratifying than you can even imagine. And it’s inspiring to people that really start to understand what the fight really is about.
“When I dove in to get involved in NASCAR, I knew I was diving into the teeth of racism. Knew it. Been there, experienced it, been a fan, blah, blah. But I wasn’t afraid of it. I was looking forward to the challenge.
“And, you know, the thing is that we can be successful in this. You’ve got to put forth the work. You may have to work a little extra hard, but I think it’s going to start to happen with other sports, too.”
Bubba Wallace’s victory serves as an inspiration for a new, diverse generation of drivers, continuing to pave the way for the future of the sport. His victory should not only inspire young Black racers but also young white drivers to stand up to prejudice existent in the racing community today.