When 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kurt Bosch joined the 23XI race for the 2022 season, he was announced as only the second driver to be part of the elite Jordan brand family. Jordan Brand, if you’re not familiar, is the billion-dollar Nike-backed apparel and athletic footwear empire owned by basketball god Michael Jordan. Ahead of this weekend’s Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway, the company revealed a special livery for the 2022 Toyota Camry race car from Bosch: Say hello to the elephant print pattern as found on the iconic Air Jordan III, the iconic Jordan shoe originally released in 1988 and is still coveted by today’s sneaker enthusiast every time the brand introduces a “retro” (reissue) version of the model to the market. Although the Elephant Style is 34 years old, it is still as new as ever, even on the regular Camry.
Why elephant print?
What makes this print so iconic in the first place? By the time it was first introduced, NBA star Jordan and Nike’s Air Jordan streak were well established but still in their early days. Much like many of the other hoop shoes, the Air Jordan I was a rather odd model best known for being the one who broke Jordan’s foot during his second season in the league. Sales of the group were strong thanks to Jordan’s amazing play, but the shoe designs themselves didn’t make people stand up and say, “Wow!” But 1988 changed all that when Nike introduced the Air Jordan III shoe, which instantly helped into the picture when Jordan wore it to win the NBA All-Star Weekend Dunk Contest at his home stadium in Chicago. There are a few stick-and-ball fans unfamiliar with the image of Jordan flying through the air from the free-throw line, white/grey Air Jordan IIIs on his feet as he soars toward victory over Dominic Wilkins. Note: The Air Jordan III debuted the now world-famous Jumpman logo, and was the first Jordan shoe to feature Nike’s visible “Air” cushioning technology. Also, unconventionally for the era, it was built in a mid-top shape rather than the standard high-top designs of the time.
was too The first Air Jordan design by Tinker Hatfield, who will continue designing Air Jordans all the way through to 15, as well as 20, 23, 2010 Air Jordans, and XXX. The former Nike architect was a late replacement for Air Jordan I designer Peter Moore and his Air Jordan II collaborator Bruce Kilgore, who had left the company. Moore, who pulled out to Adidas, was trying to persuade Jordan to ditch Nike, and it might have worked had Hatfield not listened closely to Jordan’s input during the previous conversations. In those discussions, Jordan mentioned that he wanted a shoe with smooth leather that didn’t take long to hit the court (something he didn’t like on the Air Jordan II), as well as less cut and my style.
This is why the Air Jordan III will be in the middle of the top, because it provides security but also allows for more comfort and flexibility so that Jordan can move like a cat around the court and fly through the air unlike any other player. As for the elephant’s footprint? It gave Jordan the high-end clothing look he craved, and it stood out like no other on the stadium or store shelves. As Hatfield recalls on numerous occasions, a sulky Jordan—apparently about to leave Nike—arrived hours late for a meeting to see the shoes for the first time. He was uninterested at first, but once Hatfield got off the covers, the player’s entire behavior changed. The shoe was definitely unlike anything Nike or anyone else produced; Years later, Nike co-founder Phil Knight credited Hatfield and Air Jordan III for keeping Jordan on board and saving the company. Since then, elephant print has become a major Jordanian brand, which is why you see it featured in its most important products and athletes, such as Bosch and his Toyota Camry Cup.
Jordan Brand and Kurt Bush
You might think that’s an odd pairing, but Bush is a basketball fan, and North Carolina native Jordan is a longtime motorsports fan. He is known to prefer fast cars and motorcycles, and he Own an AMA Superbike Team in 2004. But he’s always wanted a NASCAR team under his brand, and the dream finally became a reality with the 2021 squad to race 23XI alongside NASCAR driver and three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin. When Busch lost his ride after selling his Chip Ganassi Racing team to Trackhouse Racing, it opened up the perfect opportunity for the basketball legend to hire a NASCAR veteran and champion in the newly formed racing operation. Bush joined the number 45, a number Jordan wore briefly for the Chicago Bulls when he first came out of retirement, in 1995. Bush also became the second NASCAR driver to wear the famous Jumpman on his uniform, a dream for any basketball fan.
camry air jordan
While the original Air Jordan III only featured a cement-colored elephant print on the toe cap and heel, the Kurt Bush No. 45 Camry It is mostly worn along its sides, greenhouse, and nose. The entire hood is cement with a red Jumpman logo, while the rest of the vehicle is black, which is the signature color of Busch’s Monster Energy sponsorship. However, the black is done in a shape reminiscent of a sneaker, with the all-black roof, lower nose, front wheel arch and rocker panel in solid black. There are five red circles below the front turn signal portion of the headlight sticker, which are intended to replicate where the lower “laces” are. From beyond the driver’s door window, the black curves curve up and just above the rear quarter panel before dropping back toward the rear bumper, just like the base color on a basketball shoe.
The tail panel is all black with a pair of red Jumpman emblems, one below the driver’s side taillight decal and Others under the Toyota logo and “Camry” badges. The only thing that really breaks the look of the boot is the requisite race number on the sides of the car, as the side emblems are only on the black part and there are only four of them: McDonalds, Monster Energy, 7-11 and Jordan Brand.
The Camry won’t be the only Jordan Brand-designed item on the racetrack when Busch drives it at Kansas Motor Speedway: Team shoes and uniforms will all be special, too. It’s a unique look that’s likely to be featured in the NASCAR Registry, right there Design inspired by Peter Max led by Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 2000. However, it probably won’t be quite as polarizing as the rainbow-themed race car that was the antithesis of the “man in black”. We only hope that if Bosch can win, he looks into the camera and utters the phrase that always makes sneaker lovers smile: “Shoes should be!”
Images provided by Nike. Additional images from Getty and Motortrend employees.