Fast-food giant McDonald’s and stock car racing behemoth NASCAR are uniting in what they call the Black & Positively Golden Mentors program. The immediate result is a mentorship of Rajah Caruth, an 18-year-old racing newcomer by NASCAR veteran driver Bubba Wallace.
“Bubba Wallace’s star continues to shine brightly on and off the track, and because of that, we’re excited to call him a ‘Golden Mentor’,” said Marc O’Ferrall, a Mississippi McDonald’s franchisee. “Connecting Bubba and Rajah, and the other mentors and mentees is of utmost importance as we aim to positively impact the communities and people we serve at a time when it’s needed most.”
Rajah Caruth, who is also Black, is getting advice from Wallace on how to navigate adversity as he is the lone Black driver in the auto racing sport. Wallace also shares industry insights and gives helpful advice.
“As a McDonald’s racing partner, I couldn’t be more excited about being a Black & Positively Golden mentor,” said Wallace. “Mentorship is important in racing and life, and I’m honored to help elevate young leaders as they pursue their passions and dreams. Golden Mentors is a perfect combination of both and I’m here for it all.”
Born to father Roger Caruth, a professor in the Cathy Hughes School of Communications at Howard University, and mother Samantha Caruth, the assistant director at Sidewall Friends school in the District, Caruth has aspired to be a race car driver for many years. The passion was ignited after viewing Disney’s Cars film in 2006, according to his mother.
“He was obsessed with cars and it became clear to us that he was going to choose this path at an early age, proclaimed Samantha. “We did not grow up watching NASCAR in the home but once we took Rajah to a race at age 12,” she said about his enthusiasm for racing. “His father took it more seriously at first and then I came along. I cringe to see him drive but I know that he is safe while driving on the track after learning of the precautions set in place.”
Caruth, who is a freshman at Winston-Salem State University, received one-on-one mentoring, and as a bonus, Wallace and McDonald’s gave the young driver a $1,000 gift card for racing gear.
“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be mentored by Bubba through this McDonald’s program,” says Caruth. “Bubba shared such great advice about racing and life, and I can’t wait to make him proud this year!”
Rajah continued to make his parents and the community proud. Wallace and Caruth are breaking barriers by having their faces forward in a sport and career path that may not be considered by the average black or brown person.
“There are many people of color who work in the NASCAR arena,” Wallace said. “They just are not seen and we are doing the work behind the scenes to change that.”
As far as advice for mothers of children who dream of being a race car driver star, but not sure if they want their child to take the risk, Samantha says to not be afraid. “We must encourage and push our children towards greatness even if it is a bit scary.”