Santerre and Bessey team up with Aubuchon Hardware for 2003.

Harrisburg, North Carolina - Andy Santerre, 2002 NASCAR Busch North Series Champion, has announced he will defend his title in 2003 driving for Bessey Motorsports with sponsorship from Aubuchon Hardware.

Santerre won the 2002 Busch North Series Championship, but was unsure as to his 2003 plans until long-time friend and colleague, Joe Bessey, called with an offer the 34-year old Santerre could not refuse.

"In essence, the structure I raced with in 2002 is not going to change much, just for the better," Santerre acknowledged. "Joe is going to own the equipment, but I am still going to run the shop just as if I was operating my own team. I will continue to work in the shop full time, make management decisions and prepare the race cars, but we will hire a full-time transport driver and fabricator so I won't have to work in the shop alone or drive the race car back and forth to New England every weekend." Santerre continues. "I have the best of both worlds in that I still have the ability to run the race team and prepare the race cars, but I have Joe's experience in racing and in business to draw from and we will have one of the best sponsorships in the Busch North Series with Aubuchon Hardware."

The 2003 season marks the return of Joe Bessey in an ownership role in NASCAR, something he has missed since shutting down his Winston Cup and Busch Series teams in 2001.

"I am looking forward to getting back involved in NASCAR, "Joe Bessey confirmed. "My heart has always been in racing, but I am a Mainer and I love living in Maine. Logistics is the biggest reason I am not still involved with either a Winston Cup or Busch Series team. I have just not been able to break my roots with Maine; I call it home and don't want to leave it. I know that it is a competitive advantage having the shop located in North Carolina and that is one of the reasons this situation works well with Andy. Although I know he misses living in Maine, he and his wife have made a home there and are settled."

Bessey cultivated a relationship with 2003 primary sponsor, Aubuchon Hardware, this past season running two Busch Series events at New Hampshire International Speedway and Nazareth Speedway. He also ran the Oxford 250 and a PASS event under the Aubuchon banner.

"We have had tremendous success with our motorsports program," said Marcus Moran III of Aubuchon Hardware. "Adding a second team for 2003 comes as a natural fit for us. Next year is our 95th Anniversary and in the past we have done different types of anniversary promotions, this year we are planning on celebrating the anniversary by placing an emphasis on our NASACR program. Adding Joe Bessey and 2002 Busch North Champion, Andy Santerre, will bring years of winning experience to our young motorsports program."

Aubuchon Hardware, a northeastern-based hardware chain, has sponsored Carey Heath on the NASCAR Busch North Series for the past two seasons and will continue their sponsorship this season. They will add a second sponsorship with Bessey Motorsports and driver, Andy Santerre, but both drivers and teams will remain separate entities racing with a united purpose - to promote sponsor, Aubuchon Hardware and their 95th Anniversary celebration.

Bessey and Santerre have spent weeks discussing the minute details of their program and have finalized several facets of the program.

Santerre will be switching from his familiar #44 to the Bessey Motorsports #6 but will continue to race Chevrolet Monte Carlos. A couple of Andy Santerre Motorsports sponsors will also make the jump to Bessey Motorsports in 2003 - Castle Hi-Tech Chemicals based in Rochester, New York, will continue their association with Andy Santerre for a second year and long-time sponsor, Everett J. Prescott out of Gardiner, Maine, will be on board for the 2003 season as well.

"I am really looking forward to this season," Santerre admitted. "I feel I have the best deal in the Busch North Series bar none. I get to drive a top-notch competitive race car with sponsorship from committed companies such as Aubuchon Hardware, Brickmill Marketing, Castle Chemical, EJP and Pottle's Transportation. I get to continue managing the daily operations of the race team and will continue to prepare the cars but do not have all the financial worries that come with owning the team." Santerre finishes, "The addition of two employees and Joe as the owner will free up valuable time for me to focus on making the race cars run faster and better so I can defend my Championship.

Aubuchon Hardware currently operates 144 hardware stores and one lumberyard throughout New England and New York.

-jbm-