Mario 1 (2)
Mario Gosselin, his father Damien Gosselin and daughter Megan sit atop the No. 36 pit box. (Image from DGM Racing)

Family and Determination Drive Mario Gosselin for Relevancy in Xfinity Series

By Dustin Albino

DGM Racing is built on family and friendships. So much so that the acronym “DGM” stands for Damien, Germain and Mario, the Gosselin tribe. 

Mario, of course, is the team owner of DGM Racing. His father, Damien, was in the automobile business while Mario was growing up, buying and selling used cars. He also had a repair shop called DGM, so the younger Gosselin kept the tradition, opting to use DGM as the team’s name.

Oftentimes, Gosselin could be found by his father’s side growing up in South Florida after moving to the United States from Canada. That’s where he found his love for cars.

“I was probably two feet tall and my hands were all dirty and I had tools in my hands,” Gosselin recently told of his childhood.

Seeing Damien’s passion for cars stood out to Gosselin. At 6 years old, he began turning wrenches, helping his father’s small auto company. 

Gosselin is known in the NASCAR garage as a DIY type of guy, and that’s because of his childhood.

“My dad has always been a hard worker, so I guess I would have to attribute it to him,” Gosselin said. “I have a really close relationship with my dad. It’s just in the family.”

Mario And Damian (2)
Mario and Damien Gosselin at a local short track. (Image from DGM Racing)

With his love of cars, Gosselin wanted to be a part of racing in some capacity. In 1988, while living in Fort Lauderdale, he went to his local racetrack and helped put together racecars.

From there, it was off to the races. 

Gosselin made his first start as a competitor in 1991 while running late models. Admittedly not knowing anything about racecars, he started to get the hang of it after running super late models. 

Come 1994, Gosselin made a one-off start in NASCAR’s Southeast Series. But his breakout year came in 1997, when he competed in the Hooters Cup Pro Series. The Canadian driver won five races en route to the championship. He went on to win five races apiece in 1998 and 1999, sprinkling in an Xfinity Series start at Myrtle Beach Speedway, placing 16th in his debut. 

Unfortunately, Gosselin could only run select races due to funding. Straight up, it was tough for him to catch the eyes of a bigger team owner on the national level. 

“We could only run what we could afford,” Gosselin said. “Obviously, these one-off, two-off, three, four races per year, it’s hard to be competitive against the guys that are doing it week in and week out. We just rolled up our sleeves and did the best we could.”

That’s been the motto of Gosselin since he began racing. It wasn’t until he was 38 years old that he was able to piece together a full-time Camping World Truck Series deal in 2010. That year, he finished 16th in the championship standings, with his solo top-10 result coming at Martinsville Speedway (ninth). Just a handful of months prior, Gosselin finished a career-best sixth at Talladega Superspeedway in a part-time role. 

For Gosselin, those moments stand out. 

“We were probably three car lengths from the win, even though we finished sixth with how Talladega is,” Gosselin said of a personal high moment in NASCAR. “Martinsville was a very good day as well. 

“We were always very limited on funding at those races and the ones that I drove. That’s what led me to becoming crew chief and put guys that had sponsorship in. The financial side, I just couldn’t bear.”

So then why continue down the ownership path? 

“This sport that we do, it’s in your blood and in your mind,” Gosselin said. “It’s something that you want to do it. A big part of it might be the challenge. I’m going to do this somehow and you just figure out a way to get to the track.”

Since 2014, DGM Racing has been a mainstay in the Xfinity Series. Road course ace Andy Lally gave the team its first top-10 finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on a rainy summer afternoon in 2016. The No. 90 car even paced the field for three laps. 

Meanwhile, Alex Labbe became the first driver to run a full season under the DGM banner in the Xfinity Series during the 2018 season. That relationship with Gosselin stemmed nearly a decade in advance, as the two families knew each other through the car business.

Labbe credits Gosselin for his racing career. 

“He’s been pretty much my racing mentor since I got into stock cars since I was 15 or 16 years old,” Labbe said. “Mario means a lot to my racing career because he’s always been a phone call away whenever I had a question about setting up the car. Everything I’ve learned in racing comes from Mario.”

During Labbe’s championship-winning Pinty Series season in 2017, he wanted Gosselin as his crew chief. The duo found instant success, winning five of the 13 races.

Not only are they a successful pairing, but also close friends. 

“I’ve been talking to him every week for the past 10 to 12 years,” Labbe said. “We’ve got a pretty special relationship, and it’s pretty cool I won my championship. The first year I was running Pinty’s, he couldn’t commit because he was running a lot of Xfinity stuff. 

“The second year, in 2017, I really wanted him by my side. I wanted him to help me up there because we had a good deal going with Can-Am. We had money to run the full year, and I knew we were missing a big piece of the puzzle: We needed a really good crew chief and somebody I could lean on and trust 100%.”

Ultimately, that success led to Labbe running the full Xfinity schedule in 2018, finishing 17th in the championship standings, with multiple impressive outings, such as an 11th-place result at Bristol Motor Speedway. 

“I think we surprised a lot of people in 2018,” Labbe said bluntly.

During the same season, Josh Williams broke onto the scene, running 20 Xfinity Series events for DGM. The duo had a friendship dating back to Williams’ ARCA Menards Series days, running Josh Williams Motorsports. On a handful of occasions, Gosselin was his crew chief out of good will. 

Of Williams’ 115 Xfinity Series starts, 114 of them have come for DGM. And though a multitude of those at the beginning were start and parks, it’s what needed to be done to take the next step. 

“A lot of times, we would race one car and start and park the other one just to make money to buy tires for the primary car,” Gosselin stated. “You don’t wake up in the morning dreaming about going to start and park. You dream about that day that you did enough start and parks where you’ve put enough money into the bank so you can buy four sets of tires and go run a race.”

Since 2018, DGM has been a competitive mid-pack Xfinity Series team. Last season, Williams put together six top-10 finishes, while Labbe contributed five more. The duo finished 14th and 15th in points, respectively. 

This year, each driver has one top-10 finish apiece. That’s slightly disappointing for the team owner, knowing there’s work to be done. 

“We’re very fortunate to have both [Alex] and Josh,” Gosselin said. “They’re super talented, but they’ve also been around racecars their whole lives and they know every part of the car and what makes it go.”

At the same time, Labbe and Williams feel the same about Gosselin. Because of him, they’re flourishing in the Xfinity Series. 

And Gosselin’s work ethic out of his Lake Wales, Fla. race shop is contagious. 

“Mario is one of the hardest working people,” Williams said. “This man is non-stop. He really puts a lot of effort into motorsports in general. 

“At our level, there’s no way there’s any other team owner out there doing what Mario is doing. It doesn’t exist. This guy is loading cars, leaving, pulling cars down, setting stuff up for next week, getting the hauler ready, working on the haulers. This guy is literally doing everything. I don’t think there’s another owner out there that is like that in a top-tier series like we are now.”

When in the garage, Gosselin can be seen pushing tires around on a dolly, turning wrenches underneath the car, repairing brakes and gears: All the essentials of making DGM go. He’s also the full-time crew chief for Labbe’s No. 36 car.

Mario And Josh Williams
Josh Williams and Mario Gosselin working on the splitter of a DGM Racing car in 2018. (Image from Josh Williams)

And though he enjoys wearing multiple hats, working until 2 a.m. and getting back to the race shop at the crack of dawn is a grind.

It’s this passion that pushes the drivers to excel for their team owner. 

“He takes care of everything that is related to DGM Racing,” Labbe added with a chuckle. “When he says something, you listen to him and know you’ve got to listen because he’s a great leader. Everybody looks up to him on the team and they know he’s done it all. Everyone can rely on him.”

Frankly, Gosselin isn’t someone who looks backwards, as he’s always focused on what’s ahead. In some cases, DGM is in the best position it’s ever been in, regarding driver and financial commitments. 

And with just six full-time employees, add DGM to the teams that do a lot with a little.

Gosselin said, “We’re maxed out with what we can do. We’re trying to expand our shop now and put some people into place. I just want to be able to up the performance. From zero to now, you always try to get better equipment, more equipment, shop, whatever. Every year, you put in everything you’ve got. I put in everything I’ve got to get to where I’m at now.”

But the drivers themselves are just grateful to compete for Gosselin. 

“Mario has done a lot for me when I didn’t have the tire funding that I might have needed,” Williams said. “He’s stuck his neck out a couple of times and has said we’ll get through it. We’re getting bigger and bigger and beating more people. Our sponsor deals are getting better and Mario has always been there to support us and give us the opportunity to use this platform and try to put more logos on these cars.

“Our sponsors love Mario to death. He’s just a family guy. He’s no different from me and you sitting together and talking now. He’s a down to earth fellow and he’s done a lot for me. I’ll forever be grateful for what Mario has done for me to this point.”

The Xfinity Series competes at Daytona International Speedway on Friday evening, which is just a couple hours northeast from the team’s race shop.

And, oh yeah, remember Gosselin’s father, Damien? He can be seen at the race shop almost every day during the week doing anything from putting gears in, to cleaning lug nuts. He’s 85 years old. 

Mario And Damian Working On Car
Damien seen working on the No. 90 DGM Racing Chevrolet earlier this year. (Image from DGM Racing)

The path forward isn’t clear for Gosselin, but he isn’t worried about it. 

He said, “We’ve accomplished a lot for a small team with the resources we have. We’ve overachieved by a bunch.”