CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CHARLOTTE SPORTS LIVE) – While most 20-year-old college students look forward to the next social gathering on weekends, Rajah Caruth spends his weekends on the track.

Growing up in Washington D.C., Caruth fell in love with NASCAR thanks to one of Disney’s most well-known characters.

“Obviously, Lightning is like really cool,” Rajah Caruth said. “Actually, okay yeah, probably Lightning McQueen. Ka-chow.”

Fast forward to 2018, and that’s when lightning struck for Caruth. At 16 years old he started his racing career in the virtual eNASCAR Ignite Series on iRacing. Caruth knew that was the route he had to take to get to where he is now.

“Really that was my only shot at pursuing this career,” said Caruth. “Growing up in DC and not having any connections whatsoever. I put all my eggs in that basket basically and fortunately it worked out.”

Caruth would climb the ranks of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program before making his debut in the Xfinity and Truck series in 2022. All of this while being a full-time student at Winston-Salem State. It’s a challenge that he knows will be well worth it in the long run.

“It’s not easy at all but there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing just to give myself more options for once I’m done driving, which is hopefully a long time from now,” Caruth said. “Winston Salem was always the number one for me just because they had the motorsport management program. But also, being in North Carolina and being at an HBCU, it was a perfect storm for me.”

As he embarks on his first full-time season racing in the Truck Series, Caruth will represent a legend in the No. 24 truck for GMS Racing. The Wendell Scott Foundation is sponsoring Caruth for part of the season, something he’s extremely grateful for.

“There is no one else that I’d rather represent and no family or group of people that I’d rather be responsible for performing for on the racetrack,” Caruth said. “I’m really thankful for this chance, and it means a lot to me, especially with all of the things his family has accomplished in the sport, and I can’t wait to add to that legacy.”

Caruth is certainly well on his way to doing so. As one of five African American drivers currently competing in NASCAR, he’s an inspiration to the next generation. He has some sound advice for those kids who may one day follow in his footsteps.

“If it’s what you want to do, you’ll do whatever it takes,” Caruth said. “Whether it’s late nights, early mornings, and those following each other. Even the things you don’t want to do, no task is too tedious, and no work is too annoying, so you have to do whatever it takes.”