Meet Rajah Caruth: HBCU Student Who Became NASCAR's Youngest Black Driver

Photo: Getty Images

An HBCU student recently made a big move in his burgeoning NASCAR career.

Rajah Caruth, NASCAR's youngest Black driver, signed with Spire Motorsports last week to drive the No. 71 Chevrolet this season. The deal came after Caruth became a rookie full-time racer in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series last year.

Caruth's team had ceased operations after last season, so his NASCAR future was uncertain until he was picked up by Spire.

“It was pretty special because of all the uncertainty this winter and trying to figure out the best situation,” Caruth told theGrio. “I felt really thankful to have things get close and then come together pretty quickly. I have a lot of gratitude, and I’m just ready for the season to get started.”

Caruth is juggling his NASCAR career with his studies at North Carolina's Winston-Salem State, the first HBCU to have a motorsport management program. The driver said he's on track to graduate this year but getting to that point wasn't easy.

“It honestly gets harder every year because of the demands on the racing side of things,” Caruth said. “Weekly routines, meetings, and making sure I’m in the best mental and physical condition to drive gets more heightened every season. It’s hard to balance for sure, but this is my second year racing full-time, and this is going to be my reality, hopefully, for a good while. I’m just trying to close this chapter and be done with it.”

At a young age, Caruth said he discovered a passion for racing after watching the movie Cars. He landed a spot in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which has served as a launching pad for top NASCAR drivers including Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver who races full-time in the Cup Series.

After he earned four top-10 finishes in the Truck Series last year, Spire Motorsports said they believe Caruth has a "bright future" ahead of him.

“We’ve talked about seminal moments for Spire Motorsports in the past, and I think this is another one of those moments,” co-owner Jeff Dickerson said in a statement. “Rajah Caruth is an exceptional young man. He’s a very talented driver with a bright future. He’s obviously young in his career, but he’s mature beyond his years. You hear people talk about an ‘it’ factor, and when you talk to him and get to know him, it’s pretty obvious he has ‘it.’ “

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