Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin are teaming up to form a Nascar team with Bubba Wallace as the driver, a decision that’s being regarded by the community as a high-profile pairing of a Black majority team owner and the only Black driver at Nascar’s highest level.
The two announced their partnership this past Monday night in a coordinated social media post that both Jordan and Hamlin uploaded. Wallace added his own comment to both owners’ posts, which showed a picture of Jordan and Hamlin in a motorhome at a race track, already fitting right into their new “playing field.” Jordan also recently released a statement about the milestone for him and Nascar.
“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 hasn’t had a Black principal owner of a full-time Cup team since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott drove his own races from 1961 to 1973. Scott’s win at the 1964 Jacksonville 200 is the only time a Black individual has won in cup history. Jordan wants to change that complete lack of representation on the track, and has made running this team a part of his $100 million 10-year pledge to fund initiatives that combat systemic racism and help the country achieve true racial equality.
“I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing.”
Besides Jordan there’s only one other Black Nascar team owner who also happens to be a former NBA player, Brad Daugherty, who’s a partner at JTG Daugherty Racing. The two are the only Black owners at Nascar’s elite Cup level.
Hamlin, on the other hand, is a three-time Daytona 500 winner and a top contender for this year’s cup title. He initially met Jordan 11 years ago at a Charlotte Bobcats game, where the two supposedly “became fast friends.” Hamlin joined the Jordan Brand to be the first Nascar athlete to represent Jordan on the track, and the two have been friends ever since. When it came time to create a new team for Nascar, the two knew there was only one driver they wanted, Bubba Wallace.
Wallace is currently the only Black driver in the Cup series and this season has used his platform to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement and speak up against racial injustices that Black individuals in America face every day. Recently he was able to get Nascar to ban the display of the Confederate flag at all of its events due to its historically racist representation/use.
While Wallace has never won at a Cup series, he has six victories in the Truck series, and both Hamlin and Jordan can see that he’s ready to take his career to a higher level. Nascar recently also released a statement expressing their excitement over the creation of this team and Jordan’s specific involvement with racing now, claiming that “his presence at Nascar’s top level will further strengthen the competition, excitement and momentum growing around the sport.”
Jordan and Hamlin recently purchased a charter for their new team that will guarantee Wallace a spot in the 40-car field every week.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.