Basketball legend Michael Jordan has announced that he is to launch his own NASCAR team. Denny Hamlin, a three-time winner of the Daytona 500, will be a minority investor in it, whilst its sole driver will be Bubba Wallace, the only black driver in the sport.
57-year-old Jordan, a six-time NBA winner, will become the second black owner in NASCAR. He has said that his new venture is intended to bring a new audience to the sport, and also that he hopes it will provide more opportunities for black people in racing.
NASCAR, which involves custom built stock cars, is one of the most popular sports in America. In a normal year thousand would flock to racetracks, with millions more watching on television at home.
Wallace, who is 26, made headlines around the world earlier this year, when, in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing and the subsequent Black Lives Matter campaign, he successfully campaigned for the Confederate Battle flag which has associations with white supremacists to be removed from NASCAR race tracks.
Shortly after the ban was confirmed, a noose was found in his garage at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
At the time it was believed to be a direct threat against Wallace, and all that he represented. As a gesture of solidarity with him, the next day the drivers and crews of the other team in the race, pushed Wallace in his car to the front of the grid.
However, a subsequent FBI enquiry concluded that it was not a noose at all, but a piece of old rope that had been left in the garage, unnoticed by anybody.
The new team will begin racing in 2021, although, as yet the manufacturer, name, logo, and sponsors have yet to be confirmed.
Wallace has had a successful career away from the track as well. Three years ago, he voiced the character Bubba Wheelhouse in the comedy animation Pixar Walt-Disney film Cars 3.
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