NBA legend Michael Jordan and three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin today announced the formation of a new NASCAR Cup Series race team that will begin competition for the 2021 season. Rising NASCAR star Bubba Wallace has signed a multi-year deal to drive for the yet-to-be-named, single car team.
"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."
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.
"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 the 39-year-old 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."
With the completed purchase of a NASCAR team charter from Germain Racing, Jordan becomes the first Black majority owner of a full-time race team in NASCAR’s premier series since NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Wendell Scott owned and raced his own car from the 1960s into the early 1970s.
"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, who is the first African-American driver to race full-time at the NASCAR Cup Series level since Scott. "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."
The name, car number, manufacturer, sponsors and other details for the new team will be announced at a future date.
— Passport Management —
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
AND: Statement from Bob Germain of Germain Racing: Germain Racing team owner Bob Germain has released the following statement:
"Being an owner in NASCAR for the last 16 years has been a thrilling and rewarding adventure. From winning two NASCAR Truck Series championships in 2006 and 2010 to competing at the highest level of motorsports in the Cup Series for the last 12 seasons, I have experienced the highs and lows of our sport. I’m extremely proud of what Germain Racing has accomplished at every level and I will be transitioning out of ownership with many memories and friendships. I appreciate the interest and offers made over the last couple of weeks and I am excited to see how the sport continues to grow in the future.
Thank you to GEICO for their loyalty to Germain Racing for over a decade. It has been a great source of pride for our team to represent their brand on the track. Doug Barnette with Player Management International has facilitated our GEICO relationship since the beginning and I truly appreciate his efforts. Finally, to my employees: building a team camaraderie and creating a family atmosphere has been a highlight of this journey. I will miss each of you."
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 22, 2020