DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Michael Jordan could make his biggest jump yet – and he’s trying to change the game again.
Jordan not only joins NASCAR as the first black major owner of a full-time Cup series team in nearly 50 years. The Hall of Famer seeks to match the rare atmosphere of celebrities who have achieved crossover success in sports.
“He’s more excited than ever, that’s for sure,” said Denny Hamlin, Jordan’s partner at 23XI Racing.
Forget the green flag. NASCAR will have to roll out the red carpet when the Daytona 500 starts the season on Sunday with more star power in the suites than on the Superspeedway.
Pitbull, who has a stake in Trackhouse Racing, joined Jordan as an A listener in one of NASCAR’s more inclusive and expensive clubs.
Jordan is a close friend of Hamlin’s and longtime fan of the sport who once said he set his watch to see NASCAR every week. Jordan helped launch 23XI Racing with Bubba Wallace as driver, a high profile combination of a black majority team owner and the only black driver at NASCAR’s highest level. And Wallace takes over the reign of Jordan’s No. 23.
Jordan was scheduled to shoot a segment for Fox that was scheduled to air the Sunday before the race.
Pitbull’s was more drawn to the big screen to NASCAR than to the Big One in Daytona.
It’s going down! Pitbull loves “Days of Thunder!”
Yes, it was the Tom Cruise streak of over-the-top NASCAR racing that first teased Pitbull for the need for speed, until that year he added the team owner to his long list of monikers that included Grammy winners and philanthropist.
Do you think Rick Hendrick ever worked with Ne-Yo?
Or that Richard Childress “Timber!” with Kesha?
“Mr. Worldwide,” and both the platinum-rated rapper and Jordan have the global superstar appeal of NASCAR – an industry that has stepped up its commitment to diversity – to grow their fan base.
“Michael Jordan has a large following and that following is now peaking and having an interest in NASCAR,” said Hamlin. “I think that you have a lot of people who have never competed in NASCAR races who will likely know their favorite guy could be there.”
Not only will Pitbull compete in his first Daytona 500 as a team owner, but he will also give orders to drivers to start their engines.
Trackhouse Racing, started late last year by former driver Justin Marks, has driver Daniel Suarez in the Daytona 500.
“The reason I got into this is because there was a bigger initiative,” said Pitbull. “The bigger initiative is what we need more than ever, especially in these times, I’ll say it again: one race, only one race, humanity. If we can do it through music, through NASCAR, through entertainment, motivation and inspiration, then I’ve signed up for it. “
Jordan and Pitbull are the newest bold names for motorsport.
Joe Gibbs won three Super Bowls as Washington’s coach before moving to NASCAR and winning five Cup championships as the owner of his racing team of the same name. Brad Daugherty, a five-time NBA All-Star, is a co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing.
Patrick Dempsey, Paul Newman, and David Letterman all owned teams in open wheel racing.
However, the real celebrities usually only came in the NASCAR world to order drivers to start their engines or play a pre-race concert. Some have tried – perhaps through the thrill of competition they couldn’t find in retirement – to own a stake on a NASCAR team.
“I’m far from celebrity,” said Pitbull. “I’m a hard, hard worker. Big difference. Celebrities will sell everything. I’m not here to sell anything. I’m here to help unite culture, more than anything, to motivate and inspire it through my story, Daniel’s story, Justin’s story, (President) Ty (Norris’) story, and NASCAR’s story. “
The list of aspirational failures in bank accounts that couldn’t keep up could extend to the Harley J. Earl trophy: Yes, we’re talking about you, Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, 50 Cent, Randy Moss, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee .
Hall of Fame Racing was founded in 2006 with some Dallas Cowboys Star Power. The former cowboys QBs Staubach and Aikman were part of an owner group that finished 26th in points in their first season. Terry Labonte and Terry Raines shared car no. 96 in this first season and HOF Racing took 25th place in the owners’ classification in 2007.
HOF Racing fought with JJ Yeley in 2008 and the team took 39th place in the owners’ classification. Staubach and Aikman left the team at the end of the season and the team closed after 2009.
The team had a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing but was one of many small NASCAR teams that were retired during the economic crisis.
Moss found it easier to score touchdowns than top 10 finishes in the truck series. Moss bought into an existing production team in 2008 and renamed it Randy Moss Motorsports. He even changed the truck number from 46 to 81 to reflect his jersey number.
“A guy like Randy isn’t going to make such a commitment unless he’s really passionate and wants to be successful,” Tony Stewart said at the time.
Moss seemed ready to get it working in NASCAR. He won three races with Mike Skinner in 2009, but the team never won again until it burned out after the 2011 season and 119 races.
Joyner-Kersee, the Olympic gold medalist widely considered one of the great athletes of all time, has teamed up with husband Bob Kersee to make an entry in the Daytona 500 2000. The team had included driver David Green in the race, but withdrew when it was unable to find sponsorship.
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