NASCAR Then and Now: Andy Santerre
For any NASCAR Home Track fan, the name Andy Santerre is a familiar one. From 2002 to 2005, Santerre not only won four consecutive Busch North Series championships, but became the record holder for most series championships.
Following that accomplishment, Santerre continued his racing career in a different capacity, stepping out of the car and into race team management with long-time friends Steve and Peg Griswold. Santerre’s team, with driver Sean Caisse, finished second that year in the Busch East championship.
Then in 2007, Santerre expanded to a two-car team with driver @, who finished fifth in the point standings that year. He’s also mentored other up and coming drivers, including Richard Childress’ grandson @, as well as several Drive for Diversity drivers at @ where he was competition director for two years.
In 2012, in what would be his final year in racing, Santerre worked for Shige Hattori at Hattori Racing Enterprises.
But that year, an offer from his old friends, the Griswold’s, changed his life. They offered him the chance to not only return to his beloved home state of Maine, but also spend time with his family, wife Sue and daughters Sara and Sami.
“The offer I had to move back to Maine as property manager for Steve and Peg Griswold was something I couldn’t turn down. It was a tough decision because Shige Hattori had been so good to us,” Santerre said.
“But Steve Griswold called and he was a good friend that we had raced for. He made us an offer where the timing was right and it was a good chance for us to try to get back to Maine and a normal life. It was all timing.
“I chose the job and being home with the kids. When I was involved in racing, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with them. So, I’m trying to make up for the lost time with them now. And it’s been good. The last two years, I’ve been home every night and it’s a pretty good deal.”
Although Santerre is perfectly content with his new, ‘normal’ life as he calls it, he still keeps his hand in the racing world.
“I do dabble a little bit still in racing with some friends at a local track in Bangor, Maine,” Santerre said. “I help a friend of mine who has a super late model car and races at Speedway 95, which is kind of my home track. I try to provide some technical advice and some things to try.
“I go to a handful of races every year, like at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, which is a NASCAR track. That is my favorite track as well. I keep an eye on what’s going on with NASCAR. I don’t watch every race but I usually know what’s going on.”
For Santerre, his connections to racing are the friendships he has developed over the years. And he particularly enjoys staying in touch with his former racing boss.
“I have so many friends in racing and I’ve built up a lot of relationships over the year that no matter where I live, I’ll stay in contact with the people that want me to,” Santerre said. “I still help Shige Hattori, a race owner that I actually worked for. He still calls me a lot and he’s always looking for advice.
“So, I try to help him what I can from a thousand miles away. It’s good to know that the last person I worked for still counts on me to help out when I can.”
Just as it was when Santerre was racing, juggling driving, crew chiefing, team managing, and mentoring, he is currently a jack of all trades in his new role as property manager. He is currently taking care of three different properties.
“One is a big business complex, about thirty acres. Last summer we built a pavilion and had four concerts to kick off the summer,” Santerre said. “So, I take care of the grounds and buildings where the concerts are. Right now, we’re getting ready for the winter and we’re putting in an outdoor skating arena.
“The building has a roof but the sides are open. It will be a place where families and kids can go to rent ice skates. We’re hoping to have three months of ice skating and that will keep me busy. I’ll have a lot to do to take care of the property and the arena. So, that’s exciting to get up and running for the winter. I also do a lot of carpentry work.
“Anything that is complicated, I’ll hire someone. But I’m pretty much the go to guy for the company. It’s pretty cool.”
The new job does at least have one similarity to Santerre’s old racing gigs. Just as in the past when his wife worked with his race team on logistics and public relations, Santerre still gets to work every day with the woman he married nineteen years ago.
“I’m located in the shop, which is in the same complex where the corporate office is,” Santerre said. “And that’s where Sue works. I work one hundred yards from my wife and her window faces mine. She handles a lot of the financial stuff and when I need bills paid, I go through her. So, she keeps an eye on me all the time.”
The greatest advantage of Santerre’s new life, he admits, is participating in the competitive sport of raising two active daughters. His oldest daughter Sara is involved with the color guard and was recently elected to Student Council.
His youngest daughter Sami is an outstanding soccer player, in fact one of the star players on the team. In one of their recent games, the team won by a score of four to nothing, with Sami kicking all four of her team’s goals.
From enjoying his newfound time with family to having a job with more regular hours, Santerre is at peace and has found his new home after racing. He does, however, still feel the need for some speed in his life.
“I try to get my adrenalin rush from snowmobiling. That is a lot like racing. You put your helmet on and it’s pretty quiet,” Santerre said. “And there is no speed limit. And then I also bought a Camaro that I take the kids out in the summer. It’s a convertible with a V8 and a six speed transmission. So, I get to shift gears and that reminds me of what I used to get to do.
“And that’s about as close as I want to get to the racing world right now.”
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