Birthdate: September 9, 1969
Hometown: Danbury, Conn.
Resides: Davidson, NC
Family: Daughters: Natalie, Jordyn
MOST MEMORABLE ACHIEVEMENTS: $100,000 Skip Barber Big Scholarship Winner, Winning the NAPA 500 in Atlanta
Racing Hero: My Dad and maybe 5 late drivers
Greatest Influence: My Dad and about 20 people who helped me get my career started
Hobbies: Kids and Iracing
Favorite Movie: Any new movie
Jerry Nadeau was born in Danbury, Connecticut. He lived a half-mile from Danbury Race Arena where his father, Gerard, ran modifieds every Saturday night until the track closed to make room for a mall. Jerry got his first go-kart at 4-1/2. By the time he was a teen-ager, he was touring the country racing go-karts and winning championships.
He moved on into open-wheel cars and eventually to road racing, earning a spot in the Skip Barber Formula Ford Series, where he won eight out of twelve races in 1991. That same year, he was rookie of the year in Formula Ford and traveled to Europe to race in the prestigious British Formula Ford Festival. At a race at Sebring, Fla., he met Tom Cotter, a former public relations man at Charlotte Motor Speedway who now owns a PR firm. Cotter advised Jerry to move south if he wanted to pursue a NASCAR career, so Jerry moved to Charlotte and ran seven Grand National races in 1995-96 before sponsorship options dried up.
Jerry went back to Europe, racing in the Formula Opel European Series in 1996. He ran 13 races all over the continent, flying over and back from Charlotte on some weekends. On one trip he flew to Luxembourg, stayed with a director of the series and borrowed one of his cars to drive to races in Italy, Austria and Germany before coming back. "I don't think I'd want anybody to do that same thing I did because I don't think they could hack it," Jerry said. "It was tough. There were times I cried myself to sleep at night wondering if I was ever going to make it in NASCAR."
He passed on a chance to stay in Europe to race Formula 3000 cars, a possible entre to Formula One, and came home to chase his NASCAR dreams. He and Cotter wrote letters to dozens of teams and got one reply, from Winston Cup car owner Richard Jackson. Jerry went to work for Jackson's team and wound up working as a spotter for driver Morgan Shepherd. Jerry got Jackson to give him a car for two Automobile Club of America races at Charlotte in May of 1997 and Jerry finished fourth and second. A few weeks later, Shepherd and Jackson parted ways and Jackson offered Jerry the ride. He made his first start at Michigan on June 15. In his first practice session in a Winston Cup car, he was second fastest behind Jeff Gordon.
In 1998, driving for a team owned by Bill Elliott and Dan Marino, he then moved to Melling Racing after 14 races. The season was a learning experience for rookie Nadeau. In mid-July, he was released from the team, but was hired by Melling Racing to pilot the No. 9 Cartoon Network Ford the next week. The Melling team used the last half of the season to develop a consistent program and prepare for 1999. Nadeau posted a career-best fifth-place finish at Watkins Glen International in August. He also posted the second-fastest speed in qualifying at Dover Downs International Speedway in September. His talent caught the eye of many in the NASCAR garage, including representatives from Hendrick Motorsports.
When he signed to drive the Michael Holigan Homes-sponsored car from the Hendrick shops for 2000, Melling hired another driver after 22 races that season and Jerry completed the year subbing for the injured Ernie Irvan in the No. 36 Pontiacs.
With a victory in the 2000 season finale driving the #25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Jerry Nadeau silenced critics and satisfied car owner Rick Hendrick. Jerry drove the #25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy from 2000-2002, Jerry left Hendrick Motorsports after the first 11 races of the 2002 season.
Jerry then Filled in for injured Johnny Benson for three races at MBV Motorsports, drove a car owned by Michael Waltrip for one race and competed in 13 races for Petty Enterprises. Jerry was only a few laps away from winning the race at Infineon in the #44 Dodge when he lost the rear gears. Jerry Missed the last five races of season due to injuries – two fractured ribs and a separated shoulder – sustained in a go-kart accident. Best finish was eighth at the April Bristol race.
In 2003 Jerry became a father to daughter Natalie, and was back with MB2 Motorsports in the #01 Army Pontiac where he raced in the first 10 races of the season and scored a 4th place finish at Texas. On May 2, 2003 during practice at Richmond International Raceway, Jerry was involved in an on-track incident that left him with a traumatic brain injury, four broken ribs, a fractured vertebrae and a collapsed lung. He spent time in a medically induced coma and didn't regain full consciousness for three weeks. He would not race again, and was divorced the next year.
In 2006 Jerry worked with Clay Andrews Racing and driver David Gilliland on a consulting basis in the NASCAR Busch Series. David Gilliland earned his first Busch Series win at Kentucky Speedway on June 17th 2006. Not only was it the first win for David Gilliland and the newly formed Clay Andrews Racing but it was also a return to victory lane for Jerry. The event marked Jerry's final race as an official consultant for the team and he continues to consider future possibilities.
In 2007, Jerry's hero, his father Gerald, passed away after a short bout with thyroid cancer. “I was in Sebring doing some testing, it was going well and I felt like I never left racing,” Nadeau said. “I got a phone call and some doctor told me that my dad had thyroid cancer. I was told he would have no more than three months to live. “I was with him for a month in the hospital and then back home with hospice. He lasted another month. So, that was tough.”
In 2011, Jerry became a mentor to truck series rookie Jeffrey Earnhardt, son of Kerry and grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr. The following year, he would marry a lovely Ukrainian woman he met online, Maryana, and they would later have a daughter, Jordyn, in April of 2015.
In 2012, Nadeau began driving with the B.R.A.K.E.S. organization started by drag racer Doug Herbert, whose two teen boys were killed in an auto accident. The B.R.A.K.E.S program teaches teens how to drive in challenging scenarios, a topic Jerry knows a little something about.
In September 2013, Nadeau received a sports award from the Danbury Old Timers.
At the end of 2015, Jerry was invited to Japan to drive in a Toyota event at Fuji Speedway with Ron Nelson Driving Connections. “I gave rides in a Lexus LF8, which is a sporty, fast car. It was me and a couple of other good drivers from IMSA and IndyCar and we were doing 180 mph giving rides. That was my first time ever doing a ride and drive program and I f***ing loved it.”
In his free time, Jerry enjoys spending time with his daughters, Natalie and Jordyn, and racing on a simulator that he has built in his shop.