Racers, Teams and Fans Gather For Fun & Charity in Maine
When you mix race car drivers and anything that goes fast, things usually get interesting.  Since New England is covered with a blanket of snow this time of year, the choices for that are pretty limited right now.  However, there is one type of machine that gearheads in the region are very familiar with in the dead of winter – snowmobiles.
So the idea of matching up area short track racers and a few sleds in the well-known snowmobile destination of Rangeley, Maine is just natural.  Do to that in a way that benefits several deserving charities is even better.

That is the entire premise of the Busch North Scene snowmobile ride.  The event is organized by the newspaper’s publisher George Campbell and was held this weekend for the sixth time.  A total of $7,000 was raised for charity and whether they were on a sled or not, everyone had a good time at the event.

“This is a good chance for people who don’t see each other
The Rangley Lake made a good backdrop for the riders.  (51 Photos)
much over the off-season to get together,” said Campbell.  “It was a big success this year.  We drew in a lot of people and raised some money while everyone was having fun.”
“I haven’t gotten to ride much this year because we don’t have any snow,” said Vermont’s Hoar.  “We’d have to go to Massachusetts for that.  I hear that Boston has a lot of that.  Normally, we go all over Vermont and up to Quebec.  We do a lot of riding – probably 1,500 to 2,000 miles a year.  I love to snowmobile almost as much as I love to race.”

Coming from further than Vermont was Santerre, who is from Maine but now makes his home in North Carolina.

“I don’t ride as much as I would like because of the distance,” said Santerre.  “I usually get up about three or four times a year.  I usually go to Aroostook County and I’m doing a charity ride up there on February 12th.  So I’ll get up at least one more time this year.”
Drivers who attended the event included Andy Santerre, Mike Johnson, Brian Hoar, Bill Penfold and Rick Bell.  A few racers who don’t call Busch North their primary home also dropped in.  PASS was represented by Tracy Gordon, Mark Durgin carried the colors of the ACT Late Model Series and short tracker Jay Hull also was there.

In fact, Santerre had to make special arrangements to come up early due to a commitment on Saturday evening in Connecticut.

“I talked to George earlier in the week and said that I couldn’t stay for the event but I wanted to come up the day before and do a little bit of riding,” said Santerre.  “I brought some driving suits up for the charity auction, so hopefully they’ll get some money out of that for a good cause.  I just wanted to be here.  I’ve been here for the last two years and didn’t want to miss it.  I had a good time and got to see everyone, so it was worth the trip.”

The ride’s main attraction was a poker run around the Rangeley Lake.  Wide and well groomed trails allowed riders to venture out for some nice touring.  Then again, these guys are racers and you just couldn’t get that out of their system.
Going fast was also a possibility.  Three figure speeds were common on the large lake just out of town.

“Once you got out on the lake and past the pressure ridges you could really open them up,” said Bill Penfold, driver of the #0 Busch North car.  “You could run about 125 or so.  I’ve got an old ’93 750 Storm.  All that I’ve done is put a set of pipes on it.  That’s it and it’s a 125-130 mile per hour sled.  When you get off the powder and on the ice, they sail real good.  I’ve had it to 128 before. 

This winter has been strange so far in New England.  The urban areas of Massachusetts and Connecticut have been nailed with several large snowstorms while some of the normal snow sport areas have been somewhat barren.
There were a few cautions during the ride.  Here, Jay Hull gets a little help having his sled freed from a small tree after a little extreme riding.
“Trying to keep up with the rest of the Poker riders was a chore,” said Brian Hoar.  “The car, I mean the sled, was a little too tight in some areas and a little loose in others.  My crew chief came with me this weekend to fix it.  Considering all that and a couple of flat tires.  Oops. Wrong sport, it was all good.  We had fun.”
On Saturday, word spread around that Santerre had a few problems with his sled the day before.  Luckily, he happened to be riding with a local snowmobile dealer who is also a racing sponsor and this helped him to continue riding instead of spending his vacation in the garage.

“I was riding with Larry Koob who owns Oquossoc Marine on Thursday night and I broke my sled,” said Santerre.  “He’s a Polaris dealer and I was riding an Artic Cat.  I left it over there that night.  We brought it back to his shop and he gave me a sled of his to ride.  I was riding one of his new Fusions all morning and thinking of going back in the afternoon to pull to the motor down and seeing how bad it was, but when I got back Larry had it all apart and the parts ordered, so by 3:00pm, we were back out riding it again.”

Snowmobiling wasn’t the only part of the event though.  A large raffle and auction was held at the Rangeley Inn.  Some of the most impressive items of the night included Andy Santerre’s Aubuchon Hardware driver’s suit, a Monro Mufflers suit from his
George Campbell ran the auction and raffle ceremonies.
Brian Hoar had the winning bid on one of the more unusual items in the auction, a genuine moose antler.
1998 Busch Series Rookie of the Year campaign, an autographed NFL Super Bowl commemorative ball straight from the office of Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and a Weber grill.

There were also plenty of laughs as fans were treated to three professional comedians making fun of everything held in high regard by locals, from Ricky Craven to snowplows, during their stop in Rangeley.

The most touching part of the evening might have been when a Busch North Scene scholarship was announced and awarded to Mike Penfold, the son of driver Bill Penfold.

“Mike is trying hard and busting his butt to get through college at the Wentworth Institute in Boston,” said Campbell.  “He’s working his way through school and he still has time to try and help anyone that he can.  He’s a great kid and you can’t help but want to see him succeed, so I’m honored that we can help him just a little bit like this.”

Also benefiting from the auction were the Multiple Scoliosis Society, Maine Special Olympics, Busch North Women’s Auxiliary, Racing for Jesus Ministries and the Rangeley Snowmobile Club.

The Busch North Scene ride has become the second largest snowmobiling event on Rangeley’s social calendar and the town has really gotten behind the idea of helping make it a success.

“I can’t believe how much the Chamber of Commerce and the local business have helped out,” said Campbell.  “They have really made this grown through the years.”

Plans for next year’s ride are already in the works for the last weekend in January.  In fact, when Campbell returned home on Sunday afternoon, there was already a message on his office answering machine from a local business that we so impressed by the racers in town that they wanted to increase their involvement with the event in 2006.