There are currently only four Black drivers in NASCAR, and Rajah Caruth is the youngest. At 21 years old, Caruth is racing through obstacles to become one of the greatest to hit the track.

Caruth attended his first NASCAR race in 2014. From then on, he was committed to making it to the other side of the fence. He immersed himself in professional driving and began using racing simulators to achieve his dream.

His domination in the eNASCAR Ignite Series caught the eye of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Development program, which put Caruth on the fast track to becoming a professional driver. He finally got behind the wheel in 2019 at the Bojangles’ Southern Shootout race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Caruth ended his rookie year with two Top 10 placements, gaining him the visibility he needed to become a top contender. 

Fast forward to 2023, he finished 16th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for GMS Racing and Chevrolet and 14th in his debut with Hendrick Motorsports at the season finale in Phoenix Raceway. At his young age, Caruth had made history as one of the first Black drivers for Hendrick Motorsports. Keeping with the tradition of groundbreaking Black drivers, The Wendell Scott Foundation sponsored his 2023 season.

As he prepares for his 2024 season, Caruth is eager to show the world that although racing is everything to him, he is more than a racer. 

You’ve been a NASCAR fan since you were a teenager. How were you introduced to the sport?

Rajah Caruth: I was initially introduced to NASCAR from the Pixar movie Cars. I saw the movie at age 4 when it first came out, and my interest grew into an obsession and further into part of my identity.

Did you understand the racial disparities within the sport when you first became a fan?

RC: I wouldn’t use racial disparities to depict the sport as I’ve learned it. Although it was a culture shock, going to my first races as a fan and being in the racing community, learning to move in this space was a task, but I adjusted. From the jump, and as I’ve become even more rooted in the industry, I’ve been welcomed with open arms and treated fairly.

Unlike most, your start in NASCAR was utilizing simulators and building your network through digital connections. Can you describe that process, and what disadvantages/advantages do you feel came from it?

RC: It was my only chance to become a racecar driver, considering my age, location and lack of connections in the racing world. Getting my foot in the door was thorough and tedious but highly worth it. One summer in high school, I had a summer job and track and basketball workouts while balancing competing in the eNASCAR Ignite Series, which consisted of many late nights and early mornings.

When my dad and I would go to races when I was 12, 14, and 16, I’d hand out business cards and give elevator pitches to team owners and executives, crew chiefs and team members and even drivers. Once I was fortunately able to get behind the wheel, the journey began. It took over a year for me to bridge the gap between racing virtually and racing in real life. While it was a disadvantage at first due to being behind in experience, now I feel that my background in sim racing is my superpower.


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What was the feeling when you drove a physical race vehicle for the first time?

RC: It was a weird feeling. A little part of me was in disbelief, reminiscing about the years of dreaming to get my foot in the door. However, most of my mindset was figuring out how to get going as fast as possible. It took a while. I stalled the car over 10 times, my first time driving a manual, but I got the hang of it.


What is the Craftsman Truck Series, and how did it feel to finally make your dream of competing come true?

RC: The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is one of NASCAR’s top three national divisions. Although my endgame is the Cup Series, NASCAR’s premier level, it is a blessing to have made it to this series so far. I am excited for my future days of hopefully being a perennial Cup Series contender. 

In the Xfinity Series, you drove a standard race car. Do you have a preference?

RC: I found competing in the Xfinity Series enjoyable, as the cars have different handling characteristics than anything I’ve had to drive. With over 600 horsepower and little downforce, it takes a lot of finesse and preciseness to instrument the vehicle to its potential.

Can you give us some insight into the mission behind NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Development program?

RC: My time in D4D was essential in my path to being a driver; they taught me from ground zero what it takes to be a race car driver. From being present in the race shop with the team, how to carry yourself as a sportsperson, handling media obligations, and even the work-life balance. It set some key marks for me to conduct myself by.

You are currently enrolled at Winston-Salem State University, majoring in Motorsport Management. How do you feel learning the business of the industry has helped your driving career, and how do you plan to use it after you graduate?

RC: Learning the business side of racing has given me a bit of perspective on the sport and made me even more thankful to be a driver. I see all the things that make the wheels turn and how many different individual roles have such a significant impact on and off Raceday. After I graduate, my degree will help me give back after my driving days are complete.

What is your ultimate goal within NASCAR?

RC: I want to be the best racer that I can be but also pay my dues and leave the sport better than it was when I first arrived on the scene, for those who do and don’t look like me alike.


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How do you feel knowing you represent diversity within NASCAR?

RC: I honor that responsibility, which I deeply cherish, as it is authentic to who I am as a person away from the track.