Story By: MICHELINA FRISS / DIRTCAR – CONCORD, NC – When Mathieu Desjardins was listening to the Super DIRTcar Series race at Can-Am Speedway last season on DIRTVision, he didn’t know the following season people would be listening to him competing in the same race.
With Paul St. Sauvuer’s retirement at the end of last season, he tapped Desjardins to fill the seat of his #37 Big Block and compete full-time with the Super DIRTcar Series in 2023.
“I really want to become a better driver,” Desjardins said. “I want to learn everything I can, and I always said that to be the best driver, you have to compete with the best. Of course, my ultimate dream is to make a living with race cars but it’s really hard for a French-Canadian like me. But I guess it’s a good start.”
Desjardins was born into a racing family and has been around the sport his entire life. He became a DIRTcar Sportsman Modified driver in 2010, competing successfully in Quebec, Ontario, and the United States. He moved up to a DIRTcar Modified 358 in 2016, winning two track championships at Autodrome Drummond. But he still wasn’t done. Although his racing career almost was.
With support from St. Sauvuer, Desjardins found a new path to a dream he thought was vanishing away.
“Paul (St. Sauvuer) and Harold from Les Equipements Harjo sponsored me since 2017,” Desjardins said. “In 2019, I was supposed to quit racing due to lack of money. Harold and Paul decided to give me a ride in 2020 and I won the championship that year. After three seasons together, Paul decided to retire from racing. So, they asked me if I wanted to continue racing with them. We talked about a crazy year in 2023 doing the Big Block Super DIRTcar Series and a lot of 358 races too. I said yes without any hesitation.”
Last year, St. Sauveur brought him stateside to run Super DIRT Week and the final three races of the season at the World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. Desjardins missed the show at Super DIRT Week, but a month later in only his second Series start and second Big Block race on American soil, Desjardins scored his first Super DIRTcar Series win at The Dirt Track.
“It’s really a dream for me to run the Big Block division,” Desjardins said. “In Quebec, we run the Small Block, but it’s just crazy to run the Big Block. I like that a lot. It’s a lot of experience for me to run with Matt Sheppard, Fuller, and all these guys. It’s just crazy.”
While he already has a win under his belt, Desjardins said he still expects an adjustment period to dry, slick conditions of American tracks.
“We are not used to it in Quebec,” he said. “We really have to improve our knowledge of suspension on these kinds of tracks.”
Fortunately, his first matchup will come on a track he is familiar with. The Series will make the lone stop of the season at Can-Am Speedway in La Fargeville, NY on April 15.
“I had success in the past in the Sportsman division, so I know a little bit about what the track looks like,” Desjardins said. “I also listened to the Series race of last year on DIRTVision. It gave me a good idea on how to prepare the car.”
After that, he will follow the Series to matchups in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and throughout New York before venturing back to The Dirt Track at Charlotte in November. Already a racing veteran, he is acutely aware of the commitment level required as a full-time driver.
“It will be a nice experience to travel a lot with my team,” Desjardins said. “For sure, it will be a lot of hours on the road. We have a minimum of four to five hours traveling more than everybody, but it’s ok. We are pretty used to it. It will be a lot of work this summer racing in Québec in the weekend and the Series in the week, but it’s part of the deal and I’m happy to do it.”
UP NEXT: The Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds are back in action Saturday, April 15 at Can-Am Speedway in La Fargeville, NY for a 75-lap, $7,500-to-win spectacular.