Sports Business Writer
One of the best, if not the absolute best, NBA players of all time is heading into a new venture- and it has nothing to do with the NBA. 57-year-old Michael Jordan is purchasing a NASCAR team, which will begin competing in the 2021 Cup Series season. Jordan teamed up with current NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin to buy the NASCAR charter of Germain Racing, with the new team name yet to be announced. The first race the Jordan/Hamlin team is set to race in is the Daytona 500, scheduled for February 14th, 2021.
The driver for the new racing team? None other than Bubba Wallace. Wallace currently drives the famous #43 car for Richard Petty Motorsports, and is the only full-time black driver in NASCAR. Wallace was in the spotlight of the media this past summer when there was a piece of rope found hanging from his garage in the shape of a noose. After this event, NASCAR banned all showings and representation of the Confederate flag at their events. NASCAR has shown that they are fully committed to the fight against racism, especially since the death of George Floyd in May, and Wallace has largely been the face of this movement in the sport.
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. 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.”
NASCAR responded to that report saying, “We proudly welcome Michael Jordan into the NASCAR family, and look forward to watching Michael, Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace compete in 2021. Michael is an iconic sports figure and celebrated champion whose fiercely competitive nature has placed him among the greatest athletes of all time. His presence at NASCAR’s top level will further strengthen the competition, excitement and momentum growing around our sport. We wish Michael and his team tremendous success.”
Clearly both Jordan and NASCAR are fully in favor of the move. The hope is that the new acquisition will put more fans in the seats and eyes on the screen, and also shed some light on the issue that is the lack diversity in NASCAR. Jordan is paving the way for other people of color to become owners or other high-up positions in the sport.
NASCAR has stated that the number 23 is available for any NASCAR competitor. Jordan famously wore the number 23 between 1991-1998 when he led the Chicago Bulls to six world titles. Jordan said picking the car’s number will be up to Wallace- as he will be the driver, not Jordan. The acquisition price has not been disclosed. However, a starting-line spot runs about $4-6 million per race weekend, so we can assume the team was purchased for a decent chunk of change.
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