DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Four talented youth drivers have been selected to hone their racing skills as participants in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Youth Driver Development Program after a national talent search in March.
NASCAR and Rev Racing hosted a youth driver combine at GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, N.C., where drivers ages 12 to 16 were evaluated during practice sessions and heat races.
Four drivers were selected to the 2019 class, including Rajah Caruth, 16, an iRacing competitor from Washington D.C., with aspirations of a traditional racing career. Among the new participants are Lacy Kuehl, 12, of Sarasota, Fla., who has experience racing dirt oval flat karts, and Blake Lothian, 16, a World Formula Kart driver from Wellesley, Mass.
Fourteen-year-old U.S. Legends car driver Isabella Robusto of Fort Mill, S.C., returns to Rev Racing having trained with the youth driver development program in 2017 and 2018.
"We were very impressed with what we saw from these drivers at the combine in March," said Jusan Hamilton, NASCAR director, racing operations and event management. "Each driver demonstrated strong potential and we believe will be successful in racing. The four selected stood out based on their abilities both on and off the track, have great experience and left quite the positive impression on our evaluators."
NASCAR Drive for Diversity and Rev Racing seek the highest quality candidates from diverse backgrounds and develop them into successful NASCAR drivers. During the summer, the youth program provides selected drivers with equipment, mentoring and competition experience.
Rev Racing, the competition arm of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Youth Driver Development Program, will put the four drivers in INEX Legend Cars in 2019. Each driver will compete in the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway in June and July, and several other events throughout the summer.
"We have really taken an in-depth look at how we develop and train our drivers at the youth level," said Max Siegel, CEO of Rev Racing. "We’ve seen the program grow over the last 10 years and make a substantial impact in NASCAR. The level of talent and enthusiasm we are already seeing in these young individuals is both promising and exciting. Connecting with drivers as early as possible allows us to have a greater impact on driver development on and off the race track. Our goal is to see these drivers move through the pipeline and into the national series."
The youth development program serves as a stepping stone for drivers to eventually move to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series race cars with the goal of one day competing for a NASCAR national series team.
The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program, a separate program that will host its combine later this year, introduces talent to Late Model Stock cars and offers opportunities for drivers to compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and Whelen All-American Series with the Rev Racing team.
Graduates of the youth development program include NASCAR K&N Pro Series West driver Hailie Deegan, 17, and Rev Racing Late Model driver Nicholas Sanchez, 17. In 2018, Deegan became the first female driver to win a K&N Pro Series race after taking the checkered flag at Meridian Speedway in Idaho. Deegan won her second K&N Pro Series race in 2019, finishing first at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track.
Sanchez raced in last year’s Bojangles’ Summer Shootout with Rev Racing’s Legends Car program and recently completed his rookie season in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
The 2019 class features the following drivers:
Rajah Caruth: In 2018, Caruth raced the Legends ’34 Coupe in the inaugural season of the eNASCAR Ignite Series, NASCAR and iRacing’s youth series created specifically to identify and attract young and diverse talent. He made 18 starts in the eight-week regular season, where he finished second seven times, made the playoffs and advanced to the championship round. Caruth has raced in more than 230 races on iRacing thus far in 2019 with 21 wins and more than1,600 laps led.
Lacy Kuehl: Kuehl has raced in a dirt oval flat kart 32 times with one first-place finish. Notable accomplishments include winning at the Inverness Grand Prix and racing for Diabetic Ketoacidosis survivors. Kuehl would eventually like to earn an invitation to the Maxxis Nationals.
Blake Lothian: Lothian raced nine of 10 races in a World Formula Kart in the 2018 New Hampshire Karting Association (NHKA) Outdoor Series in New Hampshire. His highest finish was third place and he finished the season seventh out of more than 20 drivers. In 2017, he was the NHKA Briggs and Stratton LO206 Senior Champion with seven first-place finishes and three second-place finishes.
Isabella Robusto: A current youth development driver, Robusto competed in the 2018 Bojangles Summer Shootout 10-race series where she finished sixth in the overall points standings. She won Battle at the Big Top at Texas Motor Speedway, a U.S. Legends National Qualifier.