Story at a glance
- Michael Jordan and driver Denny Hamlin bought a NASCAR team and signed Bubba Wallace as a driver.
- Jordan said he hoped to add more diversity to the sport.
- Wallace has been a vocal advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement and equality within NASCAR.
One day after “The Last Dance” won an Emmy for Best Documentary Series, Michael Jordan is back in the game. This time, it’s NASCAR.
The subject of the 10-part docuseries announced he was getting into professional racing with two major names attached to his new team, which debuts next year.
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“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 news release. “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.”
Jordan, the majority owner, and Hamlin, a minority owner, purchased a NASCAR Cup Series Charter and signed Bubba Wallace, the only Black diver in the series, who announced earlier this month he would not return to Richard Petty Motorsports. Hamlin said deciding on Wallace as a driver was easy.
“Bubba has shown tremendous improvement since joining the Cup Series and we believe he’s ready to take his career to a higher level,” Hamlin said. “He deserves the opportunity to compete for race wins and our team will make sure he has the resources to do just that. 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.”
NASCAR's audience is more diverse than its drivers — with nonwhite fans making up 20 percent of its base in 2018 — but the sport is still composed of more white athletes than any other. Wallace led the push for a ban on Confederate flags at racetracks in the wake of George Floyd's killing and has been a vocal advocate for Black lives.
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.— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) September 22, 2020
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