Emmitt Smith walked away from the NFL with lots of success, and he sees a “tremendous opportunity” in NASCAR as an owner.
Smith is following NBA owner and legend Michael Jordan in pro sports ownership with his Xfinity Series investment. Jordan co-owns 23XI Racing with current driver Denny Hamlin and the two own two Cup Series cars. NASCAR.com via The Spun caught up with the owner recently.
Jordan employs Bubba Wallace to drive the No. 23 car, with Kurt Busch manning the other NASCAR entry, the No. 45 car. Jordan wore both numbers while playing in the NBA.
Smith’s future plans involve his team getting the No. 22 for racing. That’s the NFL great’s number he wore during his NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals.
The 52-year-old Smith and former Navy football star Jesse Iwuji co-own a team. Iwuji currently races the No. 34 car in the series and is working toward a full-time racing schedule.
He joins 23XI’s Wallace and Pro Series East driver Jay Beasley as the only three active African-American drivers in the sport.
Smith: NASCAR Working To Get Minority Owners In Sport
The former Dallas Cowboys running back star is open to learning all he can about NASCAR. As an owner, he says that’s a top priority.
Smith told NASCAR.com via The Spun that “NASCAR has actually opened the door for minorities to come in and actually own their teams.”
The owner said ownership is an excellent way to foster transformation in the sport because “if you don’t own it, you can’t really change it.”
He calls it a “top-down approach” and thinks that he’ll eventually be able to “influence something (like racing) in the most positive way.”
But it all goes back to learning on your feet and fast. The “learning curve” has the former football star wanting to learn about everything in NASCAR.
“I’m drinking out of a firehose right now trying to learn every aspect of this business from start to finish,” Smith continued.
While he’s not interested in the mechanics involved in a car, he was to understand the track strategies and “other nuances about the sport I can actually learn.”
NFL Stars In NASCAR Not A New Concept
Smith is the latest NFL star to drive over to NASCAR.
The greatest of them all has to be former Washington Commanders coach Joe Gibbs. Gibbs turned his small race team in 1992.
Over the years, Jerry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, and other players have owned race teams. NASCAR analyst Brad Dougherty co-owned a Camping World Trucks Series team on the NBA side.
Recently Daugherty served as a roaming reporter for CBS Sports coverage of 2021 SRX Series. That Tony Stewart co-owned league announced a short schedule for this year.