It is officially confirmed that the new NASCAR team Bubba Wallace will be driving next year helmed by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin will be called 23XI Racing.
“23XI Racing” (pronounced twenty-three-eleven) will run a single car piloted by Wallace. The name is taken from the numbers made famous by the team owners. The obvious 23 for Michael Jordan and 11 for Denny Hamlin’s number.
Though the car Wallace is driving will have the number 23. The team is set to make their official NASCAR debut at the 2021 Daytona 500.
The team hasn’t revealed who their manufacturer partner is but considering that Denny Hamlin currently drives a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, chances are Hamlin may have negotiated a deal with them for his new team venture.
That being said, for now I’m going to speculate that Wallace will run a NASCAR Toyota Camry when the team debuts next year.
As far as I know, this is the first time Michael Jordan has got involved in motorsports since he launched a motorcycle racing team in the early 2000s.
His name will definitely bring a lot of eyes and possibly sponsorship dollars to the team. Furthermore, considering Michael Jordan’s connection with Nike, there is a strong possibility that Bubba Wallace may be the first NASCAR driver in history to get a Nike shoe deal.
The team made its debut on social media today with a video announcing the name and the message “here we come”. You can watch it below.
𝙃𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙬𝙚 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚. #23 pic.twitter.com/vuH3wKRa5M
— 23XI Racing (@23XIRacing) October 22, 2020
While exciting, this development isn’t totally surprising. Bubba Wallace has been consistently in the forefront of NASCAR news this year due to his efforts to raise awareness to social justice issues.
It was sparked by the death of George Floyd earlier this year. Wallace started by tweeted his feelings, and opinion of the matter on his social media channels but eventually took things further by pushing NASCAR to ban the confederate flag due to its ties to racism and slavery.
The ban prompted similar moves in other places. Notably Turn 10 Studios who banned the confederate flag from all of their Forza games.
Wallace faced significant backlash from NASCARs fans from the southern region of the country which even escalated to death threats.
The issue hit the global news cycle when a crew member for Wallace’s team found a noose in their garage area at Talladega Speedway.
After an FBI investigation it was ultimately concluded that the noose had actually been in place for months before Bubba Wallace showed up to the track and that he was not the target of a hate crime.
Critics of Wallace pounced and many accused the whole thing of being a hoax committed by the driver to get attention though that was proven to be false when images of the noose were released.
From that point Wallace has had a consistent spotlight on him and thus far he has used his platform to speak out for social justice and supporting the black lives matter movement.
Ironically the news of Bubba Wallace driving for this new team comes just a few days after NASCAR announced that Kyle Larson, a friend of Wallace would be reinstated into the series after being suspended saying the N-word on a live virtual racing streamed event in April of this year.
Wallace spoke out on that as well, condemning the language that Larson used but advocating giving Larson a second chance.