With NASCAR celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2023, The Associated Press asked Rajah Caruth, a 20-year-old graduate of the “Drive for Diversity” program and a student at Winston-Salem State, to write an essay on the series and its role in his life:
What does NASCAR mean to me?
To some, NASCAR is people from the South driving in circles. To some, it may be something cool to catch on television. For others, it is something that they were born into, were groomed for or something that they just happen to be good at.
For me, it is none of those. NASCAR is my everything.
What stemmed from my first viewing of Pixar’s “Cars” film in 2006 has become part of my identity and soul. Even before I fortunately got my start as a driver, racing was the first thing I thought about in the morning, the last thing I thought about when I went to sleep, and a majority of what was in between.
As a result of my relatively late start at driving compared to my competitors, I became more than a student of the sport — I became obsessed. I collected all the diecast that my family could afford, I watched every single Truck, Nationwide, and Cup practice, qualifying and race, and watched 2014 onboard videos in class all throughout high school. From the quintessential close finishes and eye-catching liveries, to the fascinating facilities and interesting personalities, I consumed all things NASCAR.
From “NASCAR: The Complete History” by Greg Fielden (to) shows like “NASCAR Now” on ESPN with Dr. Jerry Punch and Ricky Craven and “WindTunnel” by Dave Despain, and even NASCAR stop motions and video game content on YouTube. I grew to love this sport the more I learned and the more I’ve gotten to know the individuals that make it happen.
To have the opportunity to a) race FULL-TIME in the Craftsman Truck Series, and b) drive a Chevrolet Silverado RST with the Wendell Scott Foundation on it is truly special to me. At nearly every opportunity I had in school, I did projects on Wendell and his family. From Black History Month to National History Day projects, I’ve known and learned about the legacy of his endeavors on and off the racetrack for years.
The fact that I am the young Black man who gets to add to that prolific legacy and start my own is tremendous to me, and I cannot wait to show what I’ve got on the racetrack. I welcome the chance to represent the Scott family, my blood family, those who have supported me up to this point and those who look like me, share my background and ambitions. With great power comes great responsibility.
Nowadays, I am — hopefully and God-willingly — on a trajectory that could place me competing against the men that I grew up idolizing on Saturdays and Sundays, and that potential drives me every single day.
The realities, hardships and obstacles of being Black in a predominately white sport all perish in comparison to my adoration, passion and love for it. NASCAR has been all I’ve ever wanted to be apart of since I can remember, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to be one of the best ever.
AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://apnews.com/hub/daytona-500