Andy Santerre called it a “challenge.”
But the Cherryfield native and four-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points champion said he is looking forward to working for former Indy Racing League driver Shigeaki Hattori and his Hattori Racing Enterprises team in the K&N and Automobile Racing Club of America series this coming season after parting ways with Revolution Racing.
Some personnel changes at Revolution Racing left a sour taste in his mouth.
“I loved doing what I was doing [at Revolution Racing] and we were very successful on the K&N side. We had great people, I was able to hire who I wanted to and we had fun,” said Santerre. “But they have new management and they’ve made a lot of changes that I didn’t agree with and that I didn’t want to be a part of. It wasn’t the direction I wanted to go in.”
Santerre spent two years as the competition director with Revolution Racing under NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program and his drivers won six of the 12 K&N series races last season.
“I have no hard feelings toward them. They treated me well. Max [Siegel] bought my [Andy Santerre Motorsports team] and he was fair to me. I want them to succeed, and Jefferson Hodges, who was the competition director on the Late Model side and has taken over for me on the K&N side while also handling the Late Models, is a real good friend and a real good guy. He can call me any time [for advice or help],” said Santerre.
Siegel, the former president of Global Operations for Dale Earnhardt Inc., owns Revolution Racing.
Santerre said five valued and cherished employees were laid off in November, including crew chiefs Dave McCarty and Matt Goslant.
McCarty was the crew chief for Darrell Wallace Jr., and Goslant was the crew chief for Sergio Pena. They each won three races last season. Wallace finished second in points and Pena was fifth. The other two Revolution drivers, Ryan Gifford and Michael Cherry, wound up 10th and 14th, respectively.
McCarty, Goslant and the other three employees have joined Santerre with Hattori.
“We worked closely together last year and this was an opportunity to get everybody back,” said Santerre, whose wife, Sue, will handle front-office duties for the program.
Santerre said Hattori racing will have one full-time team in the K&N Series and another will run a partial schedule, although “I’m pretty confident we’ll have a second full-time team, too. We’re looking for sponsors for that team now.”
They will also have a team that will run a part-time ARCA schedule.
The drivers will be announced later this week, he said.
He couldn’t divulge the names but did say, “I’ve worked with both [K&N] drivers before.”
The 18-year-old Wallace will continue running a full-time K&N schedule this year for Joe Gibbs Racing, and he also will add six Nationwide Series races.
But the 18-year-old Pena is without a ride, and former Santerre Motorsports K&N driver Brett Moffitt, who has finished in the top three in points the last three years in the K&N series, is another possibility if he doesn’t return to Michael Waltrip Racing.
Santerre and Hattori began serious discussions last month and reached an agreement.
He said the job “isn’t much different” from what he was doing with Revolution Racing.
“I’ll be the shop foreman and general manager,” said the 43-year-old Santerre. “Shigeaki got his feet wet in the K&N series last year, liked the series and lined up some sponsors from Japan who wanted to get involved. Shigeaki has been around the sport a long time.”
Hattori ran 10 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races in 2005 for Germain Racing and finished 35th in points.
Hattori Racing will use Toyota engines. Toyotas won all 12 K&N series races a year ago and the top six point finishers drove Toyotas, including the Revolution Racing drivers.