19-year-old Rajah Caruth will compete in his first NASCAR race in the Xfinity Series at Richmond Raceway this weekend. Caruth will become only the third Black driver currently racing in a major NASCAR series.
The HBCU student will be driving a Virginia State University-themed car with the number 44 on it. The car will be decked out in Virginia State’s orange and blue color scheme and represent all the proud Trojans out there.
Virginia State University is sponsoring the car managed by Alpha Prime Racing in the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway on Saturday. The race is the first of several that Caruth has signed with Alpha Prime Racing for this upcoming season.
The sponsorship is a huge step for HBCUs and minorities in the racing community.
“At VSU, we are known for being a conduit for greater trailblazers. That’s why we are pleased to support our fellow HBCU student who is expected to make history this weekend,” said VSU President, Dr. Makola M. Abdullah. “We take pride in providing a pathway to greater for our VSU students and we expect that the VSU sponsored car #44 will be Mr. Caruth’s literal vehicle to continue on his road to greater successes.”
The young Washington D.C. native and Winston Salem Ram will be embarking on a journey in the world of racing that not many Black people have entered. While the racing community is starting to become more diverse with the likes of Bubba Wallace and others, There still aren’t many Black faces in the sport.
Caruth’s involvement in NASCAR will serve as another step to increase Black involvement in a sport that has had its share of controversy when it comes to inclusion. Historically, the fans at NASCAR races and events have been very proud of old southern traditions such as waving the confederate flag. This certainly doesn’t depict all fans of NASCAR but this demographic does have a significant presence in the sport’s fan base.
As the sport continues to try to diversify its audience, the need for people like Caruth will be crucial not only for NASCAR but for all the Black children at home watching him that may have an interest in racing. He could easily become an inspiration for Black people looking to enter the sport.
The race is set to take place on April 2, at 1:30 pm at Richmond International Raceway.