Michael Jordan is joining the world of NASCAR! The basketball Hall of Famer announced that he will be creating a new NASCAR team alongside Denny Hamlin — and the team’s driver will be NASCAR superstar Bubba Wallace.
Wallace is the most successful Black NASCAR driver, and he has been vocal about the lack of diversity in professional auto racing, as well as the fact that there is racism and bigotry in the sport. Jordan clearly agrees.
“Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners,” Jordan said in a statement to the press. “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.”
Jordan will be the principal owner of the new team, making it the first time a Black person has been the majority owner of a full-time NASCAR premier racing team since the 1970s. Details about the car, team name and more are still unknown.
“This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career,” Wallace said about his new partnership with Jordan. “I’m grateful and humbled that Michael and Denny believe in me and I’m super pumped to begin this adventure with them.”
In February 2018, Wallace won second place in the Daytona 500. It was the first time a Black driver took part in the Daytona 500 since 1971, and Wallace also had the highest finish for a freshman full-timer.
Wallace is not only a leader on the track, he has also been a leader when it comes to pushing for cultural change in NASCAR. He has been vocal in his support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and he has talked openly about the racism that he has experienced as a NASCAR driver, including having racist slurs cast at him.
Most recently, Wallace used his voice as a NASCAR star to bring light to the troubling trend of displaying the Confederate flag at NASCAR races.
“No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race,” Wallace said to Don Lemon during a CNN interview. “So it starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them.”
In a statement to the public in June, NASCAR finally agreed with Wallace and took a stand against the Confederate flag.
“The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry,” NASCAR declared in a statement. “The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”