On September 21, 2020 former NBA superstar Michael Jordan and current NASCAR Cup driver Denny Hamlin announced the formation of a new NASCAR Cup team. 23XI Racing will have Bubba Wallace behind the wheel and will start competing in the NASCAR Cup Series this season.
Grammy-winning musician Pitbull announced on January 15, 2021 that he is now a co-owner of Trackhouse Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series with Daniel Suarez piloting their #99 Chevrolet Camaro.
Celebrity NASCAR team owners are nothing new.
Throughout the history of America’s most popular racing series celebrities from the NFL, NBA, Hollywood, and the music industry have followed their love of motor sports and formed NASCAR teams.
In 1981 Mach 1 Racing made its debut in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with Stan Barrett behind the wheel. Despite above average results, one top 10 finish in 10 races that season, the team’s notoriety came from their owners Hal Needham and Burt Reynolds. Needham’s Hollywood arc went from being Reynold’s stuntman to the director of Smokey and the Bandit, Cannonball Run and Stroker Ace. The team added a second car in their maiden season that was driven by Harry Gant. In 22 races “Handsome Harry” garnered 10 top-five finishes and three poles. Mach 1 Racing ran nine seasons and won nine races, all by Gant.
Country music legend Marty Robbins maintained a side gig as a NASCAR driver and team owner from 1966-1982. Robbins Racing, with Marty behind the wheel, raced sporadically throughout the Winston Cup Series. In 14-seasons Robbins ran 35-races with one top-five finish.
Former NBA star Brad Daugherty wore #43 throughout his eight-year career with the Cleveland Cavaliers as a tribute to Richard Petty. The five-time NBA All Star retired in 1994 and his jersey number was retired by the Cavaliers in 1997. Since retiring from the NBA, Daugherty has worked as a NASCAR analyst for ESPN and NBC and has co-owned a pair of NASCAR teams.
His first foray into NASCAR was as the co-owner of Liberty Racing, that ran in the Craftsman Truck Series from 1997-1999. Though short lived, the team won a pair of races and had Kevin Harvick and Kenny Irwin Jr. behind the wheel.
Since 2009 JTG Daugherty Racing has competed in the NASCAR Cup Series and has featured drivers Marcos Ambrose, Bobby Labonte, A.J Allmendinger, and Chris Buescher. Currently they field two cars that are driven Ryan Preece and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. In 576 Cup starts the team has one victory, 2014 at Watkins Glen by Allmendinger, and 19 top-five finishes. From 2009-2010 JTG Daugherty Racing also competed in the Xfinity series and posted a pair of victories.
Of course, not all celebrity NASCAR endeavors are successful. From 1999-2000 Jarrett/Favre Motorsports, an endeavor of NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre, ran 29-races in the Xfinity Series. The team started off hot and peaked early, with Kenny Irwin Jr. finishing fifth in the team’s first race at Texas Motor Speedway on March 27, 1999. Another fifth place finish by Irwin at Dover that season were the high water marks for the fledging squad. In its short life the team featured Jarret behind the wheel for one race, his son Jason for 18-races, Steve Grissom and Hut Stricklin. In 2001 Rayovac pulled sponsorship and the team folded.