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Rajah Caruth - What The Game Needs

For the past four years, I've been following Rajah Caruth closely, and I've been impressed by him, and it has nothing to do with the wins and losses on the race track. During this timeframe, I've developed a dope relationship with his father, and I will tell you one thing: that apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Rajah Kirby Caruth is black and a NASCAR racecar driver. He isn't the first, and he won't be the last. Many before him forged ahead when the melanin content of their skin erected unfair barriers in the sport. They were celebrated and instilled a sense of pride throughout Black America, but Rajah brings something different to the table. I'm not turning this into a measurement of blackness conversation. It will take some intellect and self-reflection to understand the truth of this article. Understanding that culturally, Rajah brings something to the table this sport has never seen.

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

He represents Washington D.C (Chocolate City) by way of Atlanta (ATL Shawty), two historical epicenters of black culture. This 21-year-old got his start racing on simulators. That pathway alone created many questions and doubts about one's ability to jump from a computer to the track. He is an HBCU student with 3 cuts in his eyebrow and a kinky afro fade. He represents the youthful urban culture that never felt welcome or represented in the motorsport industry, let alone NASCAR. He has a swag that feels familiar to many of us outside racing. Again, I must restate that this isn't a measure of blackness or a cultural class system. African Americans come in all shapes, colors, and sizes and have different things we enjoy. One size doesn't fit all; we are as diverse as the world is big. But what Rajah represents…. It's different... the youthful black urban culture. His sneakers, his swag, the way he wears his hat, his intellect and maturity beyond his 21 years of life, are all so familiar to the outliers of the motorsports world. 

He comes from a fantastic family where both parent's roots are engrained in education. His parent's strength, culture, and intelligence are unapologetic, and it's clear where Rajah gets this from. His parents have supported and nurtured their son every step of the way, being his strength when he needed it. He has a great relationship with his sister, a college student at Temple University, laying the foundation for her own bright future. From my vantage point, the Caruths are the horsepower Huxtables, destroying negative stereotypes about Black America that are the rule in the eyes of many Americans who live in the motorsports space.

Where am I going with this…. From the moment I met Rajah, i called him "TheOne". He might not like it or know I call him this regularly. Still, the point is, in my eyes, Rajah was going to be the driver to inject a culture into NASCAR that it has never seen before. He was going to kick open a door for a culture that enjoys racing but never felt like they were wanted. Yeah, there were black drivers before him, but culturally, this is different. NASCAR will start to see young, black, urban kids following the brand. This won't be like the superficial era of fashionable NASCAR race jackets in the early 2000s; this is true fandom. They finally feel like they have somebody to get behind who represents them. Don't take my word for it; look at the social media comment sections, and you will see the disdain from the traditional NASCAR fanbase and the championing from an opposite fan base. 

Even in his press conference after his Vegas win, he mentioned that he got a lot of underserved flack for what happened at the end of his race at Daytona, and he's right. Historically, Daytona races are like a destruction derby. Crashes and caution-filled races are common, yet he was crucified as if this was the first instance. He acknowledged the obvious result of his racing but was unapologetic about his feelings regarding the criticism. Consistent with how Rajah is unapologetically himself. 

Representation is important. From Elias Bowie, Wendell Scott, Bill Lester, Bobby Norfleet, Bubba Wallace, and others who had the opportunity to compete in Nascar, they are all critical in our history; they all showed Americans that against all odds, blacks can compete and excel in a sport that tolerated them, but never seemed to truly accept them. They all provide me and others with a sense of pride when speaking about their accomplishments. But this one, "The One," 21-year-old Rajah Caruth… is different. This isn't forced or fabricated; this is just who Rajah is. He brings youthful, unapologetic urban energy to this industry on his highest stage… and it's desperately needed!  Rumble Young Man, Rumble! 



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