- September 09, 1970
- United States
- Not Active
Jerry Nadeau is an American former stock car racing driver who competed in NASCAR between 1995 and 2003, participating in 186 races of all three national series. He scored his only Cup Series victory in the NAPA 500 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2000. Nadeau retired from racing after a horrific crash during practice at Richmond International Raceway in May 2003.
Jerry's racing career started with go-karts
Gerald Jerry Nadeau was born on September 9, 1970, in Danbury, Connecticut. His father Gerald, a US Army veteran, had some experience in stock car racing, so young Jerry was also interested in car racing. He got his first go-kart at the age four.
Year be year, he progressed in the karting competitions until he won his first World Karting Association Gold Cup championship in 1988. In the following two years, Jerry defended his title. In 1991, he added the WKA Grand National Championship title.
Car racing debut in 1991
In the same year, he debuted in car racing, participating in the Skip Barber Eastern Series. After winning eight races, he became the Rookie of the Year. At the end of the season, he won in the shoot-out competition to get the money for Barber Dodge Pro Series in 1992.
Sports car racing debut at 12h of Sebring
In March 1992, Nadeau participated in 12 hours of Sebring, sharing the #65 Chevrolet Beretta with Gene Felton. They retired after 48 laps.
Jerry was a regular in the Barber Pro Series until 1995, finishing in the fifth place two years in a row, in 1993 and 1994. In 1995, he won both Barber Pro Series races he entered, but he switched his focus on stock car racing.
NASCAR racing debut at Hickory in 1995
Nadeau moved to North Carolina and joined T&G Racing to drive the #15 Ford in the NASCAR Busch Series. He failed to qualify for the Richmond race in March, so his first race was at Hickory Motor Speedway on April 15. He finished 21st in his NASCAR debut. Later in the season, Nadeau's best finish was 19th place at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Second place in the 1996 Formula Opel Nations Cup
In 1996, Jerry was still combining single-seater and stock car racing. He competed part-time in the European Formula Opel Lotus championship, participating in thirteen races with six different teams and finishing sixth in the points. At the end of the season, in November 1996, Jerry Nadeau and Tony Renna represented Team USA in the Formula Opel Nations Cup, taking second place behind the Germans Pierre Kaffer and Norman Simon.
Return to America and stock car racing in 1997
In the 1996 Busch Series season, Nadeau had only two appearances in the MPH Racing's #59 Chevrolet. For the 1997 season, Nadeau declined a move to the Formula 3000 and returned to NASCAR, expanding his schedule to five races in the Winston Cup Series. He was driving the #1 Pontiac for Precision Products Racing. He qualified ninth at New Hampshire, but his best result in the race was 30th place. He also took part in one Busch Series race at Talladega Superspeedway but failed to qualify. He made his first and only appearance in the ARCA Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway, finishing fourth and second.
First full NASCAR season with Bill Elliot and Dan Marino
Nadeau's performances caught the interest of Bill Elliott and the famous football quarterback Dan Marino, so they hired Nadeau as a driver for the 1998 Winston Cup Series season. In his first full-time season, Nadeau was driving the #13 Ford for Elliott-Marino Racing in fourteen races, then switched to #9 Ford of Melling Racing. Nadeau's best result was 15th place at Watkins Glen and he finished third in the Rookie of the Year contest. In October 1998, Nadeau entered his first and only race in the Truck Series, driving Buddy Morrison's Chevrolet at Phoenix International Speedway and finishing 27th.
Step by step, Jerry reached top 5
In 1999, Nadeau continued to drive Harry Melling's car in the Winston Cup Series and scored his first Top 10 result in April at Talladega Superspeedway, finishing eighth. In August, Jerry was again successful at Watkins Glen and finished fifth, which was his first Top 5 finish. Two weeks after Glen, Nadeau replaced the injured Eddie Irvan in the MB Motorsports #36 Pontiac and raced in 12 events.
First and only NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory
During the year, Nadeau won his first NASCAR sanctioned race in the Winston West Series (now K&N Pro Series West) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The first Winston Cup victory followed on November 20, 2000, in the season's finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
In the 2000 season, Nadeau was driving the #25 Hendrick Motorsports' Chevrolet. Before his maiden victory, Nadeau had four Top 10 finishes, including fourth places at New Hampshire and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In the last race of the season, at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Nadeau led 155 laps and won by 1.3 seconds ahead of Ward Burton. He became the first ever driver from Connecticut to win the race in the premier NASCAR series. Jerry finished 20th in the points at the end of the season, which was his best season to date.
Carrer-best NASCAR season in 2001
Even better season results followed in 2001, when Nadeau finished 17th in the points, still with #25 Hendrick's Chevrolet. He achieved ten finishes among Top 10, including second place at Dover and third place in the spring race at Atlanta. In November's race at Atlanta, Jerry led 41 laps and he was close to victory until he ran out of fuel on the final lap. He managed to reach the finish in the fourth place.
During 2001, Nadeau took part in the DIRT Motorsports Series with R&C Motorsports. He was also a co-founder of the Tom and Jerry Racing Team with Tom Cotter, which entered USAC Sprint Car Series with the driver Tony Hunt.
Four cars in the 2002 Winston Cup season
In 2002, Jerry started the season in the #25 Chevrolet but later he drove three more cars - #10 MBV Motorsports Pontiac, #44 Petty Enterprises Dodge and #00 Michael Waltrip's Chevrolet. The most successful period of the season was the first part when he finished eighth in the Food City 500 at Bristol. At Sonoma, Nadeau was close to victory with Petty's Dodge. He led 20 laps but the car suffered a broken rear-end gear on lap 107 (of 110) and he dropped to 34th place.
Class victory at the sports car race at Daytona
In October 2002, Nadeau had a one-off appearance in the Busch Series, driving the #54 Chevrolet for Bristol Motorsports at Lowe's Motor Speedway and finishing 20th. Nadeau also recorded one race outside of stock racing in 2002, participating in the round of the Grand-American Road Racing Championship at Daytona. In the 250-mile race, he partnered Anthony Lazzaro in the #7 Lola B2K/40 of Rand Racing/Risi Competizione. They finished 6th overall and first in SRP II class.
Good start of the season before Richmond's crash
For season 2003, Nadeau had an agreement to drive the #01 Pontiac Grand Prix for MB2 Motorsports. In ten races, his best result was fourth place at Texas Motor Speedway. On April 27, at California Speedway in Fontana, Jerry finished 14th. It turned to be his last NASCAR race. A week later, at Richmond International Raceway, Nadeau crashed during practice session for the Pontiac Excitement 400 race.
Richmond's crash almost killed Jerry
While driving at full speed, he swerved to avoid a slowing car, spun in turn one and hit the wall. Nadeau was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition. Luckily, he survived, but had to learn to walk and experienced slurred speech. In the fall of 2003, Nadeau tested a car and it became obvious that he was unable to return to the NASCAR competition.
Video : A report about Jerry's near fatal crash
In 2016, Jerry is working as a driving coach
When completely recovered from injuries, Nadeau started to work as a karting instructor at Lime Rock Park and returned to NASCAR as a spotter for the Busch Series driver Todd Szegedy. In the following years, he mentored some drivers, such as David Gilliland and Jeffrey Earnhardt. Nadeau is also involved in the B.R.A.K.E.S. program, which teaches children how to drive.