Born in Belo Horizonte, Matos came to the United States in 2002 after karting in Brazil and began competing in Skip Barber Formula Dodge, winning the championship in 2003.. In 2004, he moved up to the Star Mazda Series and in 2005 he won the Star Mazda championship. In 2006 he moved up the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Series where he drove for the Sierra Sierra team and captured one victory on his way to 4th place in the points .
Matos won the Champ car Atlantic title in 2007.
In 2008 he won the Indy Lights title on his rookie year, he also won the 24 Hours of Daytona in the GT3 category driving for the Mazda Factory backed team Speedsource.
In 2009 Matos graduated to Indy Cars and won the Rookie of the Year title in the category and was also the fastest rookie in the 2009 Indy 500 qualifying.
Matos competed in the ultra competitive Stock Car in Brazil from 2013 to 2016, winning a race and finishing 3 times on the podium.
In 2017 Rafa returned full time to compete in the USA in the Trans Am category.
Matos is currently a two-time champion of the category, having won the title in 2018 and 2021, having in his record 18 victories, thus being the second highest number of victories within the traditional category.
Titles and awards:
-2003 Skip Barber National Champion
-2005 Star Mazda Champion
-2007 Champ Car Atlantic Champion
-2008 Indy Lights Champion
-2008 24 Hours of Daytona winner ( GT3 )
-2009 Indy Car Rookie of the year
-2009 Indy 500 Fastest Rookie of the year
-2013 Finished 3rd place Daytona 24 hours in LMPC class( prototypes)
-2018 Trans Am Champion (TA2 class)
-2021 Trans Am Champion (TA2 class)