23XI Racing fully funded for debut season with Bubba Wallace
By JENNA FRYER
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) 23XI Racing announced a full slate of sponsorship Monday to back the new NASCAR team owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin.
DoorDash, McDonald's, Columbia Sportswear, Dr Pepper and Root Insurance were all named "founding partners" for the No. 23 Toyota Camry that Bubba Wallace will drive next season. All but Dr Pepper had existing relationships with Wallace and many signed since this summer, when he took a national role in social justice issues.
Wallace is the only Black full-time driver at NASCAR's top level and in June successfully called for the series to ban the display of Confederate flags at race tracks. His activism drew a significant amount of personal services agreements with companies - funding that gave him a treasure chest estimated at least $18 million in sponsorship for his racing endeavors.
The deals were bundled together and moved with Wallace to 23XI, the team being launched in February by the NBA icon Jordan and Hamlin, a three-time Daytona 500 winner.
Hamlin said Monday that inventory at 23XI Racing is full for the 38-race season that begins at Daytona International Speedway.
"I wish Daytona was tomorrow. We're heading in the right direction and we'll be ready when we get to Daytona," Wallace said. "This is an opportunity of a lifetime for me and there's no more excuses. We want to go out and win and I know we'll have everything we need each week to make that happen."
Wallace spent the last three seasons driving the iconic No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports, a team that struggled to compete at the highest levels because of sponsorship woes. As Wallace's profile expanded, he was able to raise funds that were tied to him and able to move with him.
He opted to join Hamlin's new effort, a team partnered with Joe Gibbs Racing and fronted by Jordan. Hamlin and Jordan have been friends for at least decade, dating to when Hamlin bought courtside seats for the Jordan-owned Charlotte Hornets.
Hamlin said Wallace's windfall did not impact his decision with Jordan to start a NASCAR team. But the funding certainly has aided in building the organization that was only formally announced in September.
"This is from the ground-up. I'm literally looking at catalogs figuring out what the team is going to wear, the polos, the shirts, everything," Hamlin said. "There are decisions for everything. We're making huge strides right now and certainly (the sponsorship) does make the job easier."
Updated December 14, 2020