DGM Racing prides itself on being a close unit. After all, it’s built on family and friendships.
Behind the scenes sits Michelle Gosselin, co-owner of DGM Racing. And while many might think she married into a racing family, that’s not entirely the case.
“Just grew up around it,” she recently told Jayski.com. “My dad grew up around it and that’s what we did on the weekends as a family. There’s pictures around somewhere.”
Learning from her father, Mike McCrary Sr., Michelle learned the ins and outs of a racecar. Her father, brother Mike McCrary Jr. and stepmother all raced themselves at local Florida tracks in a few different racing series’. Even Michelle competed and won races herself.
But it wasn’t until after graduating from high school that Michelle found her footmark in the racing world. Virtue of her father, who said he would be interested in selling race tires at Lakeland International Speedway and Auburndale Speedway, Michelle was plugged in to be the person in charge of Florida Race Tire.
It wasn’t exactly her idea.
“My dad took on the deal and he really didn’t want to do it because he raced,” she said. “He pretty much got me started in the [racing] business selling tires.”
While selling tires, she wound up selling car parts, as well. When Michelle was a kid, Mike Sr. had a wrecker business and an automotive repair shop. That’s where she learned how to work on automobiles and mount tires.
What began as selling tires at her local tracks Lakeland and Auburndale turned into selling tires for the USA late model series, Hooters Cup Series and Hooters Pro Cup Series. That’s where she met Mario Gosselin at Lakeland, exactly 30 years ago in 1992.
When Michelle began dating Mario, some of his competition got upset, believing his team was getting special treatment.
She said, “There were other racers that thought, ‘Oh, he’s getting special tires, that’s why he’s doing so well.’ We went to a track in Anderson, South Carolina and [the track promoter] said, ‘Alright, you think his tires are special? Here’s Mario’s tires, you can race them and Mario go in (to the trailer) and pick your own out.’ Mario went out there and still beat the guy on the guy’s tires that were pulled out for him specifically.
“In racing, you’re always going to have a crybaby. Really, there was no advantage.”
Eventually, Michelle would sell her tire business and began to help Mario at the track on a regular basis. She became the team’s tire specialist, drove the trailers to the race track (she had her LCD from when she owned the tire business), helped with shocks and anything else to help prepare the car. She even stood atop the spotter’s stand to spot Mario.
“She was probably the best spotter I ever had,” Mario said. “She knows the sport; it’s how she grew up. From day one when she was a little kid, she’s been around racing, so she understands it as well or better than most.”
The duo won an estimated 50 races together, as well as multiple championships.
Pointing out that she and Mario are competitive and passionate people, she fully supported his first attempt into NASCAR in the late 1990s before trying again a decade later. And since 2014, she’s been there every step of the way with DGM Racing in the Xfinity Series.
Given that DGM is an underfunded team, Michelle wears multiple hats. She’s the one in charge of communication between the team and NASCAR. She’s listed as the owner of the No. 36 car. She also handles paint scheme and roster submissions. And guess who schedules the team’s travel? Yup, it’s Michelle.
“A tremendous amount,” Mario said of how much Michelle contributes to the team. “Like everyone on the team, everybody does about the amount of three people’s jobs at a normal team. Our team is a little unique because, when we go to the racetrack, we have people coming in from 10 different directions. We have crew members from all over the place, while most of the bigger teams that are based in North Carolina, all of their employees leave from the same place and go to the same place. With our three teams, we have people coming from all over the place.”
Even still, Michelle can be seen from time-to-time atop the spotter’s stand, spotting one of the DGM drivers on a rare occasion. Her latest venture is becoming a crew chief for a race, as the team didn’t have one for Dexter Bean last spring at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
With the help of Mario – who was crew chiefing Alex Labbe’s No. 36 car – and Dan Pardus, she guided the No. 90 Chevrolet to a 17th-place finish (Dean’s best result in five 2021 starts).
“In the family business and the racing business, whatever needs to be done you just jump in and do it,” she noted. “If we didn’t have a crew chief, I would sit on the box and whatever. It’s pressure because you don’t want to run the car out of gas and you don’t want to make the wrong adjustments.”
Whenever there was an upcoming pit stop, she would speak to Mario on a different radio channel or text back and forth to see what the right strategy call would be. Of course, she also went off what Bean was saying.
“I feel like I had more confidence in her ability to pull that off than she had in herself,” Mario said. “I think the biggest part was it was something she had never done and never been responsible for. It’s a lot. The whole race outcome, basically, has a lot to do with what you do in the pits with what calls you make.”
In the grand scheme of things, being at the racetrack on a weekly basis allows Michelle time around her family. The Gosselins’ oldest daughter, Megan, 22, has been brought on to work with the team full time. Meanwhile, Madison, 18, helps out at the shop despite attending college at the University of Central Florida.
“When I was growing up, my dad took us to the races and it kept us close,” Michelle said. “It kept the kids out of trouble, and I think it’s the same with my kids. It’s great because they jump right in and they know everything about the business. They don’t have as much experience as Mario or I, but they know what it takes to make it happen and they’re not scared to jump in and help out.”
The Gosselins’ lives revolve around racing. They’re content with that problem.
“Racing is our life,” Mario stated. “Not only is it a family business, but it’s our life. It’s not like a lot of normal race teams where at 4:00, 4:30 or 5:00 we turn the lights out, go home and do something else. Even when we do go home, we’re still talking about racing, talking about the week, the next day or whatever is coming up. I guess our Monday morning meeting happens at the dinner table every night.”
DGM Racing happens to operate out of Michelle’s old tire shop in Lake Wales, Florida. The Gosselins also celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on Tuesday, Jan. 11.