DRIVER Nadeau has new outlook on life
Escaping death in a race crash, he is focusing on his family and future.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR driver Jerry Nadeau is moving to another home. But unlike some of his Nextel Cup competitors, Nadeau is down-sizing to save money.
Nadeau, critically injured at Richmond International Raceway last May, is switching residences from Mooresville, N.C., to nearby Davidson.
The reason? Nadeau is thinking about his future and his wife and young daughter.
"I get a certain amount of money from my insurance," Nadeau said Monday. "But I couldn't retire on it."
Nadeau, who probably won't drive in any races this season, was in Charlotte for the UAW-GM Motorsports media tour, hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway. As part of the MB2 Motorsports team, he hopes to resume a full racing schedule in 2005, but there's no guarantee he will.
"I'm lucky to be alive," said Nadeau, 33, who slammed into the wall on the driver's side at Richmond and suffered head, lung and rib injuries. "The last eight or nine months, I've thought about my life, and I know there is life after racing. I've got a beautiful family, and if I never race again, I can always say I did it."
Nadeau, who drove 10 races last year in the No. 01 U.S. Army Pontiac, admitted his head was "just not right" yet. He also suffers from weakness in his left side and a tingling in his left arm and down his body.
"It never goes away," Nadeau said of the tingling. "You guys don't know how it feels if you've never had a brain injury."
Nadeau, whose only victory in NASCAR's premier series came at Atlanta in 2000, has enjoyed a solid relationship with MB2 through the years. He drove part-time for the team in 1999 and filled in for an injured Johnny Benson for three races in 2002. But he understands that drivers get paid to race.
"When I get better, I'll come back," said Nadeau, who has done some go-karting and a little testing for MB2 since the wreck. "But I can't say I will be with the team for the rest of my life."
This year, veteran Joe Nemechek will drive the No. 01 car. Nemechek, who drove the car in the last four races of 2003, will have Chevy power.
"I'm excited about 2004," Nemechek said. "I'm getting to learn how things are done at the team."
But I'm proud to be representing the U.S. Army. I met a lot of wounded troops from the Gulf War in the hospital, and I want to win for them."