May 14, 2011MOTORSPORTS PAGEJohn Crowley
SONOMA -- In addition to the hum of high-horsepower motorcycles, the buzz in the Infineon Raceway paddock is that NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan is visiting.
The odds, however, of seeing his 6-foot-6 frame hanging around the grassy hillsides that flank the 2.32 mile, 12 turn road course are decidedly low.
Make no mistake, his presence at the AMA Pro Road Racing weekend and ownership of the Michael Jordan Motorsports operation is not a hobby.
But unless events require him to pay a visit to Victory Lane, Jordanprefers the comfort of a suite, where he was ensconced Saturday,according to an AMA spokesman.
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Said John Cardinale, the track's vice president of communications: "I know he's here this weekend but I haven't seen him," adding, "we've tried to get him to do some media stuff in the past but he always declined."
Founded in 2004 as an outgrowth of his passion for motorcycles and myriad business interests, Jordan's outfit is partnered with Suzuki and sponsor National Guard in the premiere AMA Superbike class. The team broke through in 2010 with a win in the high-profile Daytona 200.
In a press box conversation about the six-time NBA champion, a reporter from a prominent motorcycle magazine said he's heard that Jordan is friends with members of the Chicago police force, and the group takes to the Windy City on two wheels late at night, flouting the posted speed limits on spacious and fast Lakeshore Drive.
Saturday, he was distinctly off the radar.
A Bay Area newspaper photographer who was shooting a scenic from an adjacent suite did confirm Jordan was at the track, estimating the basketball legend's group at "15-to-20" people.
"He looked at me, he definitely saw my camera," said the photographer, who said the superstar was casually attired in a brown sportcoat. "But I knew better than to point it at him. That wasn't my assignment."
Jordan doesn't meet with the media on race weekends, nor does he spend any time in the garage area, which is typically a magnet for celebrities on race day.
A stop by the team's hauler only served to prove the point.
Riders Ben Bostrom (who carries the No. 23 on his motorcycle) and Roger Hayden (No. 45) were seen there earlier in the day signing autographs, working with engineers and having lunch with family and business associates.
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But the man who Forbes Magazine ranked in 2010 as the 20th most powerful celebrity in the world was nowhere to be found.
"Is the boss around?"a bystander asked a Michael Jordan Motorsports cook, cleaning up the team's hospitality lounge.
"He's upstairs," was the response, with a nod to the luxury suites above the front straightaway.
And that's apparently, where he's going to stay.