NBA superstar Michael Jordan and current NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin announced Monday plans to field their own team in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series, with up-and-coming driver Bubba Wallace already signed on a multi-year contract.
Jordan is the current owner of NBA’s Charlotte Hornets and will be majority owner of the new NASCAR team which will field a single car. He and Hamlin purchased the charter from Germain Racing.
Hamlin has long been connected to Jordan through a sponsorship deal involving the Jordan Brand shoe line, and the two have been close friends for several years after first meeting at an NBA game.
“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,” Jordan said in a statement. “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.”
Jordan also said he saw the move 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 announced September 10 he would leave the team at the end of the 2020 season. He’s currently driving at his best, having scored five top-10 finishes this year. His best finish was runner-up at the 2018 Daytona 500.
Hamlin currently drives for Joe Gibbs Racing and is expected to stick with the team next season.
Wallace made headlines in June when, as NASCAR’s only black driver, he called for a ban on Confederate flags at all NASCAR events. He also drove a car sporting a Black Lives Matter livery at a race in Martinsville, Virginia.