Fun fact: NBA legend Michael Jordan once owned a motorcycle racing team. Long story short, Jordan, an avid motorcyclist, met a rider named James Casmay, who introduced Jordan to Pete Mauhar, an experienced race team manager. Jordan got with Nike creative director Mark Smith to design all the gear, and thus began Michael Jordan Motorsports, which lasted from 2004-2013.
Once the motorsports team ditched the Yamahas for the Suzuki GSX-R1000, they saw quite a bit of success. Besides being a race winner in the top-tier AMA Superbike class, MJM also earned class titles in Superstock with Aaron Yates in 2008 and SuperSport East with Corey Alexander in 2013.
Now, back in September 2020, the North Carolina native and six-time champion with the Chicago Bulls dipped back into the racing pond. Jordan teamed up with longtime friend and NASCAR racer Denny Hamlin to form 23XI Racing, which will make its debut for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. But, how does Jordan’s experience owning a motorcycle team prepare him for co-owning a NASCAR racing team? Well, according to Hamlin, his start with MJM were actually part of early conversations about forming a Cup team.
?He had somewhat of an alliance as well in the first few years of (MJM), and he found out really quick that if you?re not the lead dog, it?s very, very hard to make sure you?ve got the best equipment available,? Hamlin said during a Monday video teleconference. ?So how can we ensure that we?ve got the best equipment available?
?Essentially, I said, ?Me. I can assure you that I?ll make sure 23XI has everything that Joe Gibbs Racing has.? And it?s up to us as well to almost create that Furniture Row-type of alliance (that existed with JGR from 2016-18) where they won a lot of races and they won a championship as well. So, how can we take that information, that equipment and make it better?
?That?s going to be on us to do, and I think we?ve hired a lot of really smart people to help do that.?
One of those smart people that Denny is talking about is Kreig Robinson, who worked for MJM as its VP of corporate relations and will work with 23XI in a business development role. Talk about things coming full circle!