The 23XI racing team took another step closer to diversifying NASCAR when they announced a new design this past weekend.
The car made its debut alongside 23XI driver Bubba Wallace, the only Black full-time driver on this level, and team co-owner and NASCAR legend Denny Hamlin.
If the car’s design wasn’t a giveaway, the other owner is NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. Jordan becomes the first Black principal owner of a full-time Cup team since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott in the early 1970s.
”I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing,” Jordan said in a statement in September. ”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.”
The car has a black, red, and white design in reference to Jordan’s tenure as a Chicago Bull that resulted in six NBA championships and a career that has him regarded as arguably the greatest player to ever touch a basketball.
The vehicle’s unveiling comes with the announcement of a technical sponsorship with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota, which includes an agreement that allows 23XI to obtain technical information and equipment from the team and the manufacturer.
“My main goal for 23XI Racing is to be competitive for a championship as soon as possible,” Jordan said in a statement. “Our partnership with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing gives us the equipment, resources, and expertise to do it.”
The car has a new and edgy style that is perfect for the Black owner and Black driver combo that will likely make its NASCAR Cup Series debut in Daytona in February.
Hopefully, Jordan’s ownership will help bring more Black people into the sport and bridge the gap that the sport has created between itself and Black viewers.
Earlier this year, Wallace found what appeared to be a noose in his garage after he forced NASCAR to get rid of confederate flags at its events. An FBI investigation later found that the rope tied in Wallace’s garage was not meant to be a hate symbol.
Wallace still faced a ton of criticism for his stances on racial issues in the country and many fans of the sport didn’t like seeing the young Black star advocate for his people.
Now with the spotlight on him, in a new fresh car, and with a Black-owned team, Wallace will have the opportunity to make even more of an impact on the sport.
“I’m still processing it every day,” Wallace said on CBS. “I’ve just got to make sure I do my part and deliver each and every time out next year.”
Jordan, Wallace, and Hamlin are embarking on a journey that is far deeper than just winning races.
This is about changing the fabric of a sport, and by the looks of their car, it seems like they’re off to a good start.