AUGUSTA — Rosey Gerry might be the ideal auctioneer to hawk race car memorabilia. He works fast, has more energy than a Mopar engine and never runs out of gas.

Gerry put his considerable talents to work Saturday to raise money for the Maine Vintage Race Car Association and the Maine Motorsports Hall of Fame. The event raised more than $6,000 that the association will use to preserve and honor the state auto racing history, but for Gerry and most of the people who ponied up that money for various figurines and fenders, it was all about the ride of the auction.

“It went very well,” a more subdued Gerry said afterward. “It was fun. That’s what it’s all about. Are they going to remember they spent $300? No, they’re going to remember that they had a hell of a good time.”

The live auction, held in addition to the two-day silent auction, was part of this weekend’s 28th Annual Northeast Motorsports Expo and Trade Show, which wraps up Sunday at the Augusta Civic Center. The third annual live auction, held Saturday, included the best 60 items the vintage race car association gathers throughout the year, said Jon McMullen, the association’s vice president. The items included gear donated by the 20 or so Mainers who work for a Sprint Cup team on NASCAR’s top racing circuit.

“They always want to support the history of Maine racing,” McMullen said.

The money will be used to support association activities, most notably keeping the mobile museum on the road. McMullen said the association hopes to erect a permanent museum someday, but until then the mobile museum is a rolling display.

“It’s kind of expensive to take care of that,” he said of the mobile museum.

McMullen, who grew up in Scarborough, where he continues to live, has spent much of his life at the track, including, at one time, as a racer.

“I grew up a mile from Beech Ridge (Motor Speedway),” he said. “I’ve always been involved in racing.”

Though both have a love for the sport, neither Gerry, a founding member of the Wicked Good Vintage Racing Association, nor McMullen has much of an interest in gathering collectibles. The same cannot be said for the dozens of people who gathered for the auction. Gerry said there were a few serious collectors, including one man who made the roughly five-hour drive from Houlton; but for the most part, the men and women who laid their money down were just looking for a piece of racing history.

“A lot of guys just want to have something for their garage,” Gerry said.

Many of the items sold for less than $100, but there were notable exceptions. The top earner was a 1970s-era full-face helmet worn by Maine driver Ralph Cusack, who later became a track owner and promoter.

“You aren’t going to go to Walmart and get one of these,” Gerry said.

He worked the crowd as friend and fellow auctioneer Ethan Yankura, of the Owls Head Transportation Museum, who periodically switched places with Gerry at the auctioneer’s lectern, took over the bidding. Yankura, with Gerry’s help, developed a bidding war for the helmet that, at one point, was spurred on by Gerry dropping to his knees in front of a nervous bidder and begged him to “please!” continue bidding.

In the end, the helmet netted $625.

One of the hottest items was a side panel from a car driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr., one of the most popular NASCAR drivers. The fender, donated by a Mainer who works for Hendrick Motor Sports, brought $400. McMullen hoped it would bring in at least double that amount.

“I could have gotten $1,500 on the Internet,” he said.

But Gerry, who apparently could sell a drowning man a glass of water and make him feel good about it in the process, stopped just short of twisting arms to keep momentum going. He fixed his eyes on competing bidders, apparently boring holes through the backs of their heads, and expected them to keep his gaze. With Yankura at the podium, Gerry skulked through the aisles like a tiger, waiting to pounce on any hint of interest. On occasion he even resorted to sitting in people’s laps to coerce a higher bid. Not only did the tactics earn more money, but everyone, including those being pressured, found it impossible not to laugh.

Gerry, behind the podium, built a crescendo of enthusiasm for a door panel off a ’57 Chevy. The crowd began to cheer as the bidding soared past $300 on the strength of a bidding duel. Gerry shifted from bidder to bidder, urging each to spend just $10 more.

“When you wake up tomorrow and that’s not at the foot of your bed, you know how sorry you’re going to be,” Gerry asked of one hesitant bidder.

The panel finally went for $550.

Gerry, a former professional auctioneer who now donates his services to nonprofit organizations, said the hope is to keep the bidders calm. He said some auctioneers use alcohol to loosen up the crowd. Gery has always preferred humor.

“I’d rather make people happy,” Gerry said. “Humor helps people relax.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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