For the first time since 1995, there isn’t an Andy Santerre Motorsports team.
But the Cherryfield native and four-time Busch North champion is busy enough.
Santerre, who sold his inventory to the 909 Group in September, is the competition director for its Revolution Racing.
The 909 Group has taken over the Drive for Diversity program which provides opportunities for minority and female drivers and crew members.
And Santerre oversees the operations for the four drivers under the umbrella of the 909 Group and its Revolution Racing team who are running in the K&N Pro Racing East series. The K&N Pro Racing East series is the former Camping World East, Busch East and Busch North series.
Revolution Racing is co-owned by Max Siegel and John Story.
Santerre’s four drivers are 16-year-olds Darrell Wallace Jr. and Sergio Pena, 19-year-old Mackena Bell and 20-year-old Ryan Gifford. Wallace Jr. and Gifford are African-American, Bell is the series’ only full-time woman and Pena is of Latin American descent and is from Virginia.
“This gives me a chance to run a four-car team to see if I can get the job done and, so far, I have,” said Santerre.
“I don’t have to turn a wrench any more but I make sure all four of them have the equipment they need and I give them advice on the set-ups and the tracks. It works out good,” said Santerre, who knows the tracks from having raced on them.
“They lean on me for rules and regulations and what to expect,” added Santerre.
Wallace Jr. won the season’s opening race, the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 at Greenville Pickens Speedway (S.C.) with Gifford finishing fourth, Bell 19th and Pena 27th.
Gifford was fourth again in the last race, the South Boston 150 (Va.) with Pena finishing 14th, Wallace Jr. 20th and Bell 23rd.
Gifford is currently second in points and Wallace Jr. is sixth entering Sunday’s race, the Goodyear Dealers of Iowa 200 at Iowa Speedway. Pena is 20th and Bell is 21st.
Pena captured the pole at the Toyota All-Star Showdown in Irwindale, Calif., in January and finished second to Sprint Cup driver Joey Logano.
Santerre is enjoying the challenge.
“What I really like about it is the people we have here. We don’t have a lot of people but the ones we have work hard and are very qualified,” said Santerre.
For example, Gifford’s crew chief is former Sprint Cup crew chief Lee McCall. Robert Huffman (Wallace Jr.), Mark McFarland (Pena) and Windham’s Jerry Babb (Bell) are the other crew chiefs and have had long and distinguished racing careers.
Babb is a former Oxford Plains Speedway points champion.
Santerre said he has been “real happy” with the four drivers, who are required to spend at least 20 hours a week working on the cars in the shop, which is located in Mooresville, N.C.
He said Bell has been “hard on herself” but explained that this is the first time she has driven a car this heavy and said it will take a little time for her to adjust. Pena and Bell have the least experience.
He said the fast ø of a mile track at Iowa Speedway should be a good one for his drivers.
“Hopefully win the pole and the race,” said Santerre.
In addition to Santerre’s four drivers, the 909 Group also has six Late Model drivers running in the Whelen All-American Series.
There were 75 applicants for the 10 driver positions and after reviewing their applications, they whittled it down to 30, according to Santerre.
Then they brought in the 30 drivers and tested them on the track before choosing 10, six for the Late Models and four for the K&N Pro Series East circuit.
The drivers and the process that led to their selection will be featured in an eight-part reality series called “Changing Lanes” on the BET network later this summer or early fall.
The last of the one-hour episodes will conclude with Pena’s performance at the Toyota All-Star Showdown.
“It was pretty awesome,” said Santerre.
Wiscasset opens Sunday
Wiscasset Raceway’s Center for Speed opens its season on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Third-year owner Doug White will have a few new wrinkles including a mini-van class that will rotate with two other classes, six-and-eight cylinder enduros and four-cylinder enduros.
“We have to get new people involved in the sport at the introductory level and we need to make it affordable for them,” said White.
These three classes can run normal street vehicles although helmets will be required and White highly recommends a roll cage and other safety features like a five-point harness.
White said the abundance of mini-vans on the road prompted him to think about adding the class this year and he said former Busch North driver Adam Friend of Detroit told him he is “excited” about racing his mini-van.
White has gone to Sunday afternoon racing instead of Saturday night to avoid competing with the other tracks.
“And the good thing about racing Sunday afternoons is it will be warmer and families will get home at a reasonable time,” said White.
Wiscasset will offer racing in the Late Model, Super Street, Strictly Street, Mini-Stocks and Outlaw classes along with a touring trucks class and one of the three new classes.
Saturday racing set at Unity
Saturday night racing will return to Unity Raceway for the first time in several years, according to George Fernald Jr., who leases the track from Ralph and Nancy Nason.
The track had previously published a schedule consisting of Friday night race cards with a start time of 6:30 p.m. Those events have been rescheduled for Saturdays, with the first race beginning at 5:30 p.m.
The events scheduled for this Saturday and for Saturday, May 29, will start at 4 p.m., as previously announced by the track. The Friday night preliminary racing card for the Memorial 300 racing program on May 29 will also run as scheduled, at 6:30 p.m.
The Saturday schedule will enable Unity to end its weekly racing program at an earlier hour and eliminate curfew issues that caused the Friday program to start at 6:30 p.m., which was too early for many fans and drivers on a work day.