CARIBOU – Andy Santerre was the big reason for racing fans to be out on the snowmobile trails in Caribou Saturday, but NASCAR fans were really able to garner great racing souvenirs at an auction Saturday night.
The second annual Santerre Charity Snowmobile Ride was held to benefit the Aroostook Mental Health Services Awareness Program, a sexual assault-rape crisis service in Aroostook County.
The service benefited to the tune of $22,500, more than double the amount raised by the first charity ride in 2005. Last year’s ride raised $10,000.
Chamberlain said that an increase in both the number of participating sledders and the number of items offered at the auction were responsible for the increase in funds raised.
Seventy-two sledders completed the 100-mile snowmobile run from Caribou to Washburn, Mapleton, New Sweden and back to the Caribou Inn and Convention Center. Sledders paid $25 each to ride with Santerre, a four-time NASCAR Busch North champion.
Santerre was riding pole for the ride aboard a 2006 Polaris Fusion snowmobile provided by Country Sports Inc.
After the ride, Santerre signed autographs at the inn for 90 minutes before a banquet and the auction were held.
“It was just fabulous,” Lorraine Chamberlain, director of emergency services with AMHC, said Monday. “It was a nice long day, and people had a great time.
“This was a really, really big hit,” she said. “We were able to create a lot of new awareness for sexual assault services, our number one goal.”
Santerre has pledged ongoing support for the Aroostook County cause.
The banquet was sold out with 230 people attending.
Steve Richard, auctioneer for the Saturday night racing fan extravaganza, sold more than 160 bid packages. The auction itself raised $8,800 for the cause.
Helping out was a $5,000 donation by Grezco Racing, the owner of Santerre’s racing ride.
“That kind of support always helps the cause,” Chamberlain said.
For racing enthusiasts, there was a cornucopia of racing memorabilia that included an autographed Richard Petty Experience Program racing suit, a Dale Earnhardt crew member T-shirt worn at a Daytona 500 race, car race hoods that are hung on walls, banners from the Daytona 500, and a flag flown at the Daytona 500.
The memorabilia also included autographed die-cast model cars from Marc Martin, Joe Nemechek, Bobby Labonte and Randy LaJoie, autographed hats and T-shirts from Michael Waltrip, and Martin Truex Jr.’s new die-cast model car.
“And, we had a lot which had nothing to do with NASCAR,” Chamberlain said. “It made for a great day and evening.”