Michael Jordan is branching off into a new sport — racecar driving.
Jordan and Nascar driver Denny Hamlin, who is represented by Jordan Brand, have announced that they are launching a single-car Nascar team for the 2021 Cup Series with Bubba Wallace as their driver.
Jordan’s manager, Estee Portnoy, shared a statement from him on Twitter in which he explains the reasoning for the new sports venture.
“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,” Jordan wrote. “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.”
Hamlin also announced the team via Twitter, saying that choosing Wallace as their driver was an easy decision.
“[Bubba] deserves the opportunity to compete for race wins and our team will make sure he has the resources to do just that,” Hamlin wrote. “Off the track, Bubba has been a loud voice for change in our sport and our country. MJ and I support him fully in those efforts and stand beside him.”
Wallace made headlines in June when he called on Nascar to ban the Confederate flag from races in the wake of George Floyd’s death. A few weeks later, a noose was found in Wallace’s garage. Although the FBI later determined that Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime, Nascar is now requiring all personnel to undergo sensitivity and unconscious bias training.
Wallace also expressed his gratitude for the opportunity on social media, writing: “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.”
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