Jerry Nadeau (born September 9, 1970) is a former American stock car racer from Danbury, Connecticut. He competed in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series). He started racing in karting before moving up to car racing, driving in the 12 Hours of Sebring, the European Formula Ford Festival and the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Nadeau arrived in NASCAR, the highest and most expensive level of stock car racing in the United States, with a limited budget. He started racing part-time in NASCAR, and finished sixth in the 1996 Formula Opel Euro Series.
He started full-time racing in 1998 and came third in that year's NASCAR Rookie of the Year award. After Nadeau took his first Top Ten finish at Talladega Superspeedway in 1999, he won his first NASCAR sanctioned race in the Winston West Series (now K&N Pro Series West) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He took his first Winston Cup victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway the following year. Nadeau achieved his top NASCAR season in 2001 when he finished seventeenth in points. His racing career ended in 2003 in a car accident during a practice session for a NASCAR race. He attempted a comeback before moving towards mentoring drivers.
Early life and career
Nadeau was born on September 9, 1970 and grew up in Danbury, Connecticut. His parents were Gerald Joseph, a roofer and veteran in the United States Army (1944–2007) and Pauline Cyr Nadeau. Nadeau's ancestors originate from St. John's Valley, Maine. He has one sister, Debbie. Nadeau was educated at Henry Abbott Technical High School and studied Automotive Technology. His family had connections to auto racing; Gerald raced modifieds at the Danbury Race Arena. Nadeau was given a go-kart by his father when he was 4½ years old. Nadeau also worked with his father in the construction industry to support his career. Speaking about his father's role in his career, Nadeau said, "I learned a lot from my dad, Gerry, while I was growing up. He wasn't afraid to yell and get on my toes to do my job because he hated to lose and I hated to lose. He made me the hungriest guy on the race track."
Aged 7, he came first in the eight- to twelve-year-old karting championship held in Bethany, Connecticut. In 1988, aged 18, Nadeau won his first World Karting Association Gold Cup championship. Afterward, he was introduced to Bruce Mac Innes and fellow graduates Walter Bladstrom, Tom Cotter, Bill Fisher, Bob Kullas, Frank Martinelli and Art Regan who gave Nadeau financial support. He defended his karting title for the next two years. For 1991, he took the WKA Grand National Championship. In the same year, Nadeau moved into car racing, by driving in the Skip Barber Eastern Series. He took eight victories and became the Rookie of the Year. At the end of 1991, Nadeau won the $100,000 Barber Pro Series shoot-out, allowing him to race in the Barber Dodge Pro Series.
Nadeau drove alongside sports car driver Gene Felton for the Jill Prewitt team who entered the 1992 12 Hours of Sebring, and retired after forty-eight laps from a differential problem. He also took part in karting events in St. Petersburg, Russia, competing on an ice track and won two out of eight races. Nadeau later stated the experience helped him to develop the skill of not using his car's brakes on slippery surfaces. For 1993, he raced in the Barber Pro Series, where he finished with one win and took fifth in the points standings. Nadeau also drove in the European Formula Ford Festival winning the qualifying race and came second in the semi-finals behind Formula Ford champion Peter Duke. Nadeau secured fourth in the final heat. He additionally took five top four finishes in the Firestone Firehawk Series. Nadeau improved in the Barber Pro Series in 1994 by finishing fifth in the championship with two victories. In 1995, Nadeau took two victories but fell to thirteenth overall in the standings.
Auto racing career
Nadeau entered eight NASCAR Busch Grand National Series (today the Xfinity Series) races for T&G Racing in 1995. At the time, the Busch Grand National Series was considered NASCAR's feeder circuit, a proving ground for drivers who wished to step up to the organization's premiere circuit, the Winston Cup. It is comparable to Formula One's relationship with Formula 2/Formula 3000/GP2 Series. He originally signed to run fourteen races in the season. Nadeau moved to North Carolina that year on the advice of public relations worker Tom Cotter, and was on a budget of $200. He often went to Hendrick Motorsports to receive tips. Nadeau failed to qualify for his first career NASCAR race, which took place at Richmond International Raceway. Later that year, he finished twenty-first at Hickory, twenty-ninth at New Hampshire, nineteenth at Myrtle, twentieth at the Milwaukee Mile, thirty-first at Lucas and did not qualify for the races at North Carolina and Homestead.
The following year, Nadeau moved to M.P.H. Racing and planned to run ten races in the Busch Series in 1996, in combination with a full season in the Formula Opel European Union Series Championship; he would only run two races in the Busch Series, finished thirty-ninth in both races and did not qualify at Darlington. In Formula Opel, he drove a partial season, running in thirteen out of seventeen races for six teams and finished sixth overall, the highest for an American driver. He later declined a move into the Formula 3000 series, opting for a return to NASCAR. In November 1996, Nadeau and Barber Dodge Pro Series driver Tony Renna represented the United States in the EDFA Nations Cup held at Donington Park which won the silver medal, and finished behind Germany.
After returning from racing in Europe in 1997, Nadeau moved to the Winston Cup Series, and signed a five-race contract with Precision Products Racing to replace Morgan Shepherd in the #1 R+L Carriers/Cruisin' America Pontiac Grand Prix. During the first races, Nadeau was Shepherd's spotter, and worked on maintaining Shepherd's car before the races. Nadeau also built his own cars for ARCA and Busch Series events. Nadeau made all five races, including a ninth-place qualification at New Hampshire International Speedway, but failed to finish higher than thirtieth and was let go at the end of his contract when the team's sponsor expressed no interest in retaining him. In five races, he had no Top Ten finishes, two Did Not Finishes (DNF), and finished fifty-fourth in season points. He also took part in one race in the Busch Series at Talladega Superspeedway but failed to qualify. He made his first appearance in an ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series (now ARCA Racing Series) car, and finished fourth and second in the races he entered. Nadeau's performances during the season had caught Bill Elliott and Dan Marino's eye and they offered Nadeau the chance to become their second driver.
Nadeau started his rookie season in 1998 with Elliott-Marino Racing driving the #13 Ford car, owned by Marino and sponsored by FirstPlus Financial. After sixteen races, and missing one race due to food poisoning, he was released from his contract in July. One week later, he was signed to Melling Racing to drive the #9 Cartoon Network car. Melling and Nadeau used the second half of the season to development a consistent program in preparation for the 1999 season. He had no top 10 finishes, seven DNF's, an average finish of 24.2, and had two results in the top 20. Nadeau finished 36th in the Winston Cup points standings for that season and was third in the NASCAR Rookie of the Year Award. Nadeau entered his first and only race in the Craftsman Truck Series (now the Camping World Truck Series) at Phoenix International Speedway finishing twenty-seventh.
The following year, Nadeau stayed with Melling, and clinched his first top ten finish at Talladega. In the first half of the year, Nadeau announced that he would leave Melling after the season ended. Two weeks after securing fifth at Watkins Glen, he substituted for the injured Ernie Irvan to drive the #36 M&M's Pontiac at MB2 Motorsports for the remainder of the season. In thirty-four races, he had two Top Ten finishes, and finished thirty-fourth in season points. In that year, Nadeau won his first NASCAR sanctioned event in the Winston West Series (now K&N Pro Series West) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
For the 2000 season, Nadeau was hired by Hendrick Motorsports to drive the #25 Michael Holigan Chevrolet car, replacing Wally Dallenbach, Jr. That year, Nadeau won his first NASCAR Winston Cup race in the season's final race at Atlanta Motor Speedway after passing Ward Burton seven laps from the end. Nadeau led 155 laps and won by 1.3 seconds. He became the first driver from Connecticut to win in the series. He finished the 2000 season with five Top Ten finishes, nine DNF's, and an average finish of 23.1 in thirty-four events; Nadeau finished twentieth in the Winston Cup points standings for that season.
The following year, Nadeau stayed with Hendrick Motorsports. He nearly clinched victory in the season closing race at Atlanta, finshing fourth after running out of gas midway through the final lap. In thirty-six races, Nadeau achieved ten Top Ten finishes, eight DNF's, and an average finish of 21.1. He finished seventeenth in the Winston Cup points standings that season. During 2001, Nadeau took part in the DIRT Motorsports Series with R&C Motorsports, and co-founded the Tom and Jerry Racing Team with Tom Cotter, which fielded USAC Sprint Car Series driver Tony Hunt.
Nadeau raced for four teams in 2002. He started the season by competing in eleven events for Hendrick Motorsports. He had his only top 10 finish of the year, taking eighth place at Bristol Motor Speedway. In early May, Nadeau and Hendrick Motorsports agreed to terminate his contract, citing a lack of performance. He was hired by MBV Motorsports to fill in for the injured Johnny Benson, Jr. for three races, while Joe Nemechek took over Nadeau's former seat at Hendrick Motorsports. Afterward, Nadeau drove for Petty Enterprises at Sonoma where he came close to winning his second Winston Cup race, finishing thirty-sixth after his car suffered a broken rear-end gear. He subsequently drove one race for Michael Waltrip Racing at Chicagoland Speedway.
For the rest of the season, Nadeau was hired by Petty Enterprises to drive Steve Grissom's #44 car, although Nadeau injured his ribs and shoulder from an go-kart accident. He was advised by team owner Kyle Petty to rest, and Grissom replaced Nadeau for the rest of the season. He had competed in twenty-eight out of thirty-six races, with one Top Ten finish, seven DNF's, and an average finish of 27.4. Nadeau finished thirty-seventh in the Winston Cup points standings for that season. He partnered sports car driver Anthony Lazzaro with the Rand Racing team in the Rolex Sports Car Series to finish first in the SRPII class at Daytona International Speedway, and in the Busch Series, he finished twentieth at the fall Charlotte race,
Nadeau started the 2003 season as the driver of the MB2/MBV Motorsports #01 United States Army Pontiac, and quickly had a fourth-place finish at Texas. On May 2, 2003, during a practice session at Richmond International Raceway for the Pontiac Excitement 400, Nadeau was leading the practice session when he suddenly swerved to avoid a slowing car, spun in turn one and hit the wall, driver's side first, at high speed. His car then slowly scraped across the wall for 50 feet before sliding to a complete stop. After the hit in the wall, Nadeau responded to his crew before falling unconscious. NASCAR red-flagged the track to cut Nadeau out of his car. Nadeau was airlifted to a local hospital in critical condition, only given a 6% chance of surviving the injuries. Nadeau suffered complete immobility of the left side of his body, a skull fracture, concussion, a collapsed lung and several broken ribs. Jason Keller raced for him at the Richmond race, Mike Skinner, Mike Wallace and Boris Said raced the 01 until the fall Martinsville Race, Joe Nemechek raced in the 01 for the remainder of the season and for the next few years being Nadeau's replacement.
In fall 2003, Nadeau began discussions with MB2 Motorsports boss Jay Frye about a long-term comeback. Frye gave Nadeau a test at Concord Speedway, where Nadeau was unable to feel his car's brake pedal. He also suffered a loss of stamina in his test. Because of the effects of his accident, Nadeau had to learn to walk, and experienced slurred speech. He undertook physical therapy five times during the week, which was later reduced to three when his condition improved. While Nadeau received a small financial settlement from NASCAR, it was not enough to pay for all of his rehabilitation, so he sold his large house near Lake Norman and moved to Davidson. Nadeau also suffered from depression due to the loss of his racing career.
MB2 Motorsports entered into a partnership to create a recovery driving program for Nadeau which included competing in the Nextel Cup, the Busch Series and ARCA events in 2004. During that year, Nadeau served as a karting instructor at the Lime Rock Park, and returned to NASCAR as a spotter for Busch Series driver Todd Szegedy. He worked with the Clay Andrews Racing Busch Series team as a mentor for rookie David Gilliland in 2006, who went on to win the Meijer 300 and earned a ride with Robert Yates Racing later that season. He raced in the Old School Racing Champion’s Tour in 2008. For 2011, Nadeau became a mentor to truck series rookie Jeffrey Earnhardt, son of Kerry and grandson of Dale. In 2012, Nadeau began involvement with the B.R.A.K.E.S. program in Lake Norman, North Carolina, which teaches children how to drive. In September 2013, Nadeau received a sports award from the Danbury Old Timers.
On December 11, 1999, Nadeau married long time girlfriend Jada Blanchard in the Bahamas. Together, they had a daughter, Natalie Kate (born February 17, 2003). One year after Nadeau suffered his accident, the couple divorced. In 2012, Nadeau remarried to Maryana, a Ukrainian.
Motorsports career results
(key) (Bold - Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics - Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)
Winston Cup Series
|NASCAR Busch Series results|
|1995||T&G Racing||15||Ford||DAY||CAR|| RCH
|1996||M.P.H. Racing||59||Chevy||DAY||CAR|| RCH
|1997||Precision Products Racing||01||Chevy||DAY||CAR||RCH||ATL||LVS||DAR||HCY||TEX||BRI||NSV|| TAL
|1999||GTS Motorsports||90||Chevy||DAY||CAR||LVS||ATL||DAR||TEX||NSV||BRI||TAL||CAL||NHA||RCH||NZH|| CLT
|2002||Team Bristol Motorsports||54||Chevy||DAY||CAR||LVS||DAR||BRI||TEX||NSH||TAL||CAL||RCH||NHA||NZH||CLT||DOV||NSH||KEN||MLW||DAY||CHI||GTY||PPR||IRP||MCH||BRI||DAR||RCH||DOV||KAN|| CLT
Craftsman Truck Series
|NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series results|
|1998||Reher-Morrison Racing||9||Chevy||WDW||HOM||PHO||POR||EVG||I70||GLN||TEX||BRI||MLW||NZH||CAL||PPR||IRP||NHA||FLM||NSV||HPT||LVL||RCH||MEM||GTY||MAR||SON||MMR|| PHO
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- Callahan, Terry (August 31, 2000). "NASCAR WCUP: Racer Jerry Nadeau will have a 'racing birthday'". The Auto Channel. Auto Channel, Inc. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
- "Abbott Tech's Hall of Famers reflect all walks of life". The News-Times (Hearst Corporation). April 27, 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- "Jerry's Bio". jerrynadeau.com. JN Racing, Inc. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
- "Nadeau upsetting form on rookies". Las Vegas Sun (The Greenspun Corporation). May 7, 1998. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau: Driver Bio". Pennsylvania 500. TBS Superstation, Inc. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
- Tamayo, George (January 26, 2000). "SBRS: Jerry Nadeau Thanks Those Who Were There For Him". Motorsport.com. Motorsport.com, Inc. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
- Burt, William (2004). NASCAR's Best: Top Drivers Past and Present. Wisconsin: MotorBooks International. p. 130. ISBN 9781610591201.
- Hembree, Mike (2009). "Then Tony Said to Junior..." : The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told. Chicago, Illonis: Triumph Books. ISBN 9781617492051.
- "Jerry Nadeau". DriverDB. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau 1995 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series Results". Racing-Reference. USA Today Sports Media Group. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
- "Nadeau gets Busch ride". The Hour (Chet Valiante). January 6, 1995. p. 15. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
- Smith, Marty (October 25, 2012). "Nadeau: 'It's almost like I lost my life'". ESPN (ESPN Internet Ventures). Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- Caldwell, Dave (August 13, 2000). "AUTO RACING; Nadeau Peeks Out From Gordon's Shadow". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- Heuschkel, David (May 10, 1996). "Nadeau At Home In Loudon". Hartford Courant (Tribune Publishing). Retrieved January 25, 2015.
- Cannon, Melanie (November 3, 1996). "Valvoline Team USA Takes the Silver at Nations Cup VII". Team USA Scholarship. Team USA. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
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- "TOTALLY NASCAR COUNTDOWN: Nadeau took long road to No. 18 in the countdown". Fox Sports. Fox Broadcasting Company. June 6, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- Adamczyk, Jay (July 22, 1997). "Past News, July 1997". Jayski's Silly Season Site. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau's 1997 Winston Cup Series driving statistics". NASCAR. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Archived from the original on November 22, 2005. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau 1997 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series Results". Racing-Reference. USA Today Sports Media Group. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau 1997 ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series Results". Racing-Reference. USA Today Media Sports Group. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- "Past News - May 1998". Jayski's Silly Season Site. ESPN Internet Ventures. May 30, 1998. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. USA Today Sports Media Group. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau 1998 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Results". Racing-Reference. USA Today Sports Media Group. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- Coble, Don (September 4, 1999). "Irvan retires from racing". The Augusta Chronicle (Morris Communications). Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau 1999 Winston Cup Series driving statistics". NASCAR. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Archived from the original on September 12, 2006. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- NASCAR Online (May 8, 1999). "Las Vegas's Orleans Big Boost for Jerry Nadeau". motorsport.com (Motorsport.com, Inc.). Retrieved January 29, 2015.
- NASCAR Online (February 1, 2000). "Jerry Nadeau and Michael Holigan Plan to Prove Themselves". motorsport.com. Motorsport.com, Inc. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- Newberry, Paul (November 21, 2000). "Jerry Nadeau Wins NAPA 500 Race". Associated Press. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau 2000 Winston Cup Series driving statistics". NASCAR. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Archived from the original on November 21, 2005. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- Hinton, Ed (November 19, 2001). "Gordon Earns 4th Cup Title". Sun-Sentinel (Tribune Publishing). Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau 2001 Winston Cup driving statistics". NASCAR. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Archived from the original on November 20, 2005. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- Torres, Andrew (January 11, 2001). "Nadeau set to play in the DIRT". motorsport.com. Motorsport.com, Inc. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
- "Nadeau Sprints Into Ownership". Motor Racing Network. International Speedway Corporation. November 27, 2000. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
- Courchsene, Shawn (May 9, 2002). "Nadeau, Hendrick Part Ways". Hartford Courant (Tribune Publishing). Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- Fryer, Jenna (May 20, 2002). "Nemechek hired to replace Nadeau at Hendrick". Lawrence Journal-World (The World Company). Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- Leon Moore, David (June 24, 2002). "Rudd's unlucky run ends as Nadeau's upset bid sours". USA Today (Gannett Company). Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. USA Today Sports Media Group. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- "Nadeau to drive Petty's No.44". Spartanburg Herald-Journal (Halifax Media Group). July 24, 2002. p. B1. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- Smith, Marty (October 18, 2002). "Petty advises Nadeau to sit out rest of season". NASCAR. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Archived from the original on December 13, 2002. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau's 2002 Winston Cup Series driving statistics". NASCAR. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Archived from the original on November 20, 2005. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- "Daytona II: Rand Racing race summary". motorsport.com. Motorsport.com, Inc. July 5, 2002. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau's 2002 Busch Series driving statistics". NASCAR. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Archived from the original on January 9, 2005. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- SPEED News (Television production). SPEED: Fox Broadcasting Company. May 2, 2003.
- "Nadeau's condition improves". Autosport. Haymarket Publications. May 6, 2003. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- Pearce, Al (August 6, 2003). "By The Numbers...". Daily Press (Tribune Publishing). Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- Associated Press (July 21, 2004). "Nemechek signed to replace Nadeau". Athens Banner-Herald (Morris Communications). Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- Bernstein, Viv (May 16, 2004). "AUTO RACING; A Driver's Long Way Back". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- Fryer, Jenna (February 12, 2004). "Nadeau under caution". The News-Times (Hearst Corporation). Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- "Nadeau back at the track". Autoweek. Crain Communications Inc. July 21, 2003. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
- O'Brien, Marty (April 25, 2013). "NASCAR driver Jerry Nadeau has moved forward 10 years after career-ending accident". Daily Press (Tribune Publishing). Retrieved January 28, 2015.
- "MB2 teams with rivals to aid Nadeau". Autosport. Haymarket Publications. October 14, 2003.
- Courchsene, Shawn (June 11, 2004). "Action At Stafford To Improve Racing". Hartford Courant (Tribune Publishing). Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- Newton, David (February 21, 2007). "Gilliland's life-changing moment building to 500 debut". ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- Team Release (January 19, 2011). "Nadeau Hired as Rookie Earnhardt's Driver Coach". NASCAR. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- "Danbury Old Timers to honor NASCAR's Nadeau". The News-Times (Hearst Corporation). September 17, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- "Jerry Nadeau Ties the Knot". motorsport.com. Motorsport.com, Inc. December 16, 1999. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jerry Nadeau.|
- Jerry Nadeau driver statistics at Racing-Reference