NBA legend Michael Jordan and NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin have formed a team for 2021 that will feature Bubba Wallace as its driver.
In an announcement first posted on Twitter Monday night, Hamlin said he and NBA Charlotte Hornets owner Jordan would field an as-yet unnamed team next year.
Wallace has signed a multi-year deal to be the team’s driver.
“Starting a race team has been something that Michael and I have talked about while playing golf together over the years, but the timing or circumstances were never really right,” said Hamlin.
“It just makes sense now to lay the foundation for my racing career after I’m done driving and also help an up-and-coming driver like Bubba take his career to a higher level. Plus, Michael and Bubba can be a powerful voice together, not only in our sport, but also well beyond it.”
Jordan will serve as principal owner of the new team with Hamlin as a minority partner while he continues to drive the No. 11 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Hamlin and Jordan have purchased the charter from Germain Racing’s No. 13 team to ensure the new team can participate in every race.
“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,” said Jordan. “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.”
The name, car number, manufacturer, sponsors and other details for the new team will be announced at a later date.
Sources told Autosport that the team is considering utilising the No. 23, Jordan’s number during the majority of his playing career with the Chicago Bulls.
“This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career,” said Wallace, the Cup Series’ only full-time African-American driver.
“Both Michael and Denny are great competitors and are focused on building the best team they possibly can to go out and compete for race wins. I’m grateful and humbled that Michael and Denny believe in me and I’m super pumped to begin this adventure with them.”
Wallace, who announced earlier this month he would not return to Richard Petty Motorsports next season, has been among the most vocal leading NASCAR’s response to racial injustice protests across the country this summer.
Wallace was also at the centre of an investigation led by the FBI when a suspected noose was found in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway during a NASCAR event last June.
The investigation found that no crime had been committed and the noose had actually been in place since 2019.
He has recently signed several prominent sponsorship deals including Beats by Dre, Columbia Sportswear, DoorDash and Cash App.
Wallace has enjoyed his most competitive season in Cup since his full-time debut in 2018, and is currently 23rd in the standings with the highlights of one top-five and five top-10 finishes.