Less than two years ago, Rajah Caruth was just another senior in high school. He took the train every day for class and did what he considered “normal high school stuff.” He had his eyes set on graduation and college.
Professional racing, at the time, stood as a dream.
On Monday, Caruth, now 19 years old, signed with the newly formed Alpha Prime Racing to run a part-time schedule in the NASCAR Xfinity Series next season.
“That’s pretty crazy,” Caruth told NASCAR.com. “It it surreal. I have to, I guess, pinch myself every time I get in an ARCA car or a late model, let alone getting this deal done. I can only imagine this is going to feel even more crazy next year.”
Caruth is set to pilot the No. 44 Chevrolet in the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Martinsville Speedway, Dover International and Richmond Raceway. There’s a possibility he competes in more events, with Pocono Raceway and Kansas Speedway mentioned as options, pending additional sponsorship. Regardless, he will maintain his rookie status.
In addition to his work in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Caruth will continue racing in the ARCA Menards Series in 2022 with Rev Racing as part of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, which he joined in 2018.
“I would not have gotten noticed off iRacing if not for the program,” Caruth said. “We would not be talking right now. I would not be able to race. So, both my family and NASCAR Drive for Diversity have made this possible, even getting to this point. I’m extremely appreciative of everybody.”
Caruth made his ARCA Menards East Series debut on Feb. 8, 2021 at New Smyrna Speedway, where he finished 11th. In his seven starts, he has two top-five and four top-10 finishes. He’s ranked sixth in the standings with one race left — Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 16.
Caruth also participates part time in the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series.
“Overall, I think I feel ready to make the next jump,” Caruth said. “The people around me are going to work as hard as I am to ensure that I do what I’m supposed to do on the race track.”
Alpha Prime Racing co-owners Caesar Bacarella and Tommy Joe Martins will split the remaining seat time with Caruth. Both have history in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, combing for 132 starts, and Caruth anticipates picking up tips and tricks from them as the season progress.
An area of competition Caruth is most curious about is race length. NASCAR races are much longer than ARCA. For example, when both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and ARCA Menards East Series were at Dover back in May, the NASCAR race was 200 laps compared to ARCA’s 125. Caruth did crash out of his event that weekend, but it remains to be the only race he did not finish running. The point is, he’s eager to learn about how to handle longer distances physically and mentally, and he knows he’ll be surrounded by those with firsthand experience and advice.
“It don’t cost a dime to listen,” Caruth said.
Meanwhile, off the track, Caruth remains in school. He is a sophomore at Winston-Salem State University and plans to graduate in 2024. Normal stuff.
“My mom, dad, sister, girlfriend, extended family — they’ve been extremely supportive,” Caruth said. “Even from when I was like 10 or 12 — leaving church early to watch the Cup race on Sunday to skipping school to go to a Trucks race at Dover to leaving the school early during the week to go down to Charlotte for the All-Star Race — it’s really a thanks to … just everybody making time for me to do what I love.”