Southeastern student Darian Boesch has mastered the formula for combining his business education and passion for speed—becoming an NHRA World Champion.
From video or pick-up games to art, yoga, or getting lost in the great outdoors, most students have a hobby, a way to unwind and recharge at the end of a long day or week. But Southeastern senior and Ponchatoula resident Darian Boesch has accelerated his hobby to another level.
Outside of his studies, Darian channels his time and energy into racecar driving. At the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Finals held in Las Vegas this past fall, engines and spectators roared as Darian tore across the finish line in his carbon fiber Jerry Haas Camaro SS to become the NHRA World Champion in the Top Sportsman category. This would be an epic achievement for anyone, but for someone only 21 years old and a fulltime college student it’s even rarer.
“For me, it’s the biggest thing you can do in racing,” Darian said of the competition. “Everybody shoots for the world championship. Whether it’s Formula-1, NASCAR, or any other kind of competition, you want to have a world championship and have that big ‘#1’ on everything.”
Racing is in Darian’s blood. His dad, Mario Boesch, began racing when he was close to Darian’s age and introduced him to the sport. Darian began competing in Jr. Dragsters when he was 7, earning 18 championships in that category alone.
“Pretty much my earliest memory is in the shop,” said Darian. “One of our cars was in there, and my dad had just put the motor back in. He fired it up and actually let me crack the throttle a couple of times, so I got to hear the motor rev up… And from there I have not looked back.”
While Darian is mainly the one behind the wheel while on the track, his family is part of his secret weapon for success. In honor of this, their self-funded team is named MKD (Mario, Karen, and Darian) Racing. Mario, a New Orleans business owner who also still occasionally competes with the team, pitches in with tuning the cars and driving the team trailer to all of the events, most of which are at least nine hours away. Since weather plays a significant role in how the cars run, one of Karen’s biggest roles is managing the computer weather acquisitions. “A five-degree temperature difference, or the humidity or density altitude, makes a big difference,” said Darian.
And as for Darian, racing takes much more than just jumping in the car, and for vehicles to be pushed hard and continue to perform at such a top level they take a lot of maintenance. While the fabrication, painting, and motor and transmission assembly are outsourced to professionals, putting the cars together and preparing them for racing on a weekly basis is mostly up to Darian—whether it’s changing out motors, fluids, or various parts and pieces at his home racing garages.
MKD Racing owns and maintains a total of six competition vehicles, including four dragsters, the Camaro, and a Top Sportsman S-10 truck/grudge car.
Darian has reached 235 mph in the dragster and 230 in the Camaro, but in NHRA, there is also much more to being behind the wheel than crossing the finish line the fastest. Competitors must set a predicted finish time and come in as close to it as possible, and if they cross faster than it they lose.
“To do that I’m not actually looking down the track,” explained Darian. “I’m looking at my opponent the whole way. You want to make the race as close as possible. You can use the gas pedal, the brake pedal, the parachutes—anything to get as close as possible without going too fast. Generally my car can go about 230 mph, but I usually cross the finish line at about 205-210 because I’m killing so much ET (elapsed time) to go slower. A lot of times I’ll get to the finish line a foot or two in front of my opponent, which is hard to get that close at 230 mph.”
“Basically, it’s like a 200-mile-per-hour chess match,” he said. “They’re making moves. You’re making moves. It’s all about who can outsmart the other one going that fast. And you have 6 seconds to figure it out.”
Darian and his parents regularly travel together across the country for races, whether it’s Florida, the Carolinas, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, or everything in between. Doing this and preparing the cars—in addition to working for his family’s business—takes a lot of time, but Darian remains on track to graduate in December 2021.
Along with learning how to fine-tune his time-management skills, Darian noted that the support from his professors has been instrumental in helping him to academically succeed. Not only have they been helpful in working with him if he needs to miss a class or turn in an assignment or test early due to travel for a competition, he said that most actually get excited when they learn of his level of racing, even before the National Championship win. Their personal support and the proximity of campus to his home garages have allowed him to pursue his dream of racing, not to mention becoming a national champion, while earning a quality education.
He has also been able to translate what he has learned in his studies into his racing career. “My business administration major has made me think about how to make things function a little bit better,” said Darian. “Some of my management classes, for example, have taught me how to make things run smoother and to cut out parts you don’t need, which has really helped a lot, not just in terms of getting things done better with racing, but also with work. Every little extra you can cut off that will save you time or money helps; it’s so much work, you need every little bit you can get. There’s definitely a lot that I can apply from my classes into this.”
As for work and the future, Darian plans on taking on more with his father’s company when he graduates, eventually running it. But he is far from done with racing. With one World Championship under his belt, he is revved up to keep firing for more, such as winning the World Championship in two different cars in the same year.
“I have a very long future ahead of me in this,” he said.
To learn more about MKD Racing, visit mkdracing.com.