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 at the wheel and will compete 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 and that Daniel Suarez will drive his # 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 pursued their love of motorsport and formed NASCAR teams.
In 1981 Mach 1 Racing made its debut with Stan Barrett at the wheel in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Despite above average results, a top 10 result in 10 races this season, the team’s notoriety came from owners Hal Needham and Burt Reynolds. Needham’s Hollywood Arch went from Reynolds stuntman to directing Smokey and the Bandit, Cannonball Run and Stroker Ace. The team added a second car in its first season, driven by Harry Gant. In 22 races, “Handsome Harry” achieved 10 top 5 placements and three poles. Mach 1 Racing ran for nine seasons and won nine races, all by Gant.
Country music legend Marty Robbins made a side appearance as a NASCAR driver and team owner from 1966 to 1982. Robbins Racing with Marty at the wheel drove sporadically through the Winston Cup series. In 14 seasons Robbins ran 35 races with a top five result.
Former NBA star Brad Daugherty wore the number 43 in homage to Richard Petty during his eight-year career with the Cleveland Cavaliers. 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 served as a NASCAR analyst for ESPN and NBC and has owned two NASCAR teams together.
His first foray into NASCAR was as a co-owner of Liberty Racing, which ran in the Craftsman Truck Series from 1997 to 1999. Though short-lived, the team won two races with Kevin Harvick and Kenny Irwin Jr. at the wheel.
JTG Daugherty Racing has been participating in the NASCAR Cup series since 2009 and has introduced the drivers Marcos Ambrose, Bobby Labonte, AJ Allmendinger and Chris Buescher. They currently run two cars driven by Ryan Preece and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The team has one victory in 576 Cup starts, 2014 at Watkins Glen von Allmendinger, and 19 top 5 placements. From 2009 to 2010, JTG Daugherty Racing also competed in the Xfinity series and scored two victories.
Of course, not all celebrity NASCAR projects are successful. From 1999 to 2000, Jarrett / Favre Motorsports, a NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre company, ran 29 races in the Xfinity Series. The team started hot and peaked early. Kenny Irwin Jr. finished fifth in the team’s first race at Texas Motor Speedway on March 27, 1999. Another fifth place for Irwin at Dover this season was the high water mark for the young squad. In his short life, the team showed Jarret for one race at the wheel, his son Jason for 18 races, Steve Grissom and Hut Stricklin. In 2001, Rayovac withdrew sponsorship and the team folded.