NADEAU ON SPEED’S NASCAR RACEDAY: ‘STILL WAITING FOR THE LIGHT SWITCH TO TURN BACK ON’
Former NASCAR Nextel Cup Series driver Jerry Nadeau, whose career came to an abrupt end when he crashed during a practice session for a race in Richmond in 2003, suffering head, lung, shoulder and rib injuries, talked with Wendy Venturini for Sunday’s edition of NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED about his long recovery and his future:
VENTURINI: Jerry, does it seem like it has been three years since your accident?
NADEAU: Probably more … it seems like an eternity. I have been stuck in this phase for the last, like you said, three years. I’ve just kind of lost track. You wonder sometimes if it is ever going to get better. But you know it is … I’m functioning. I can talk. I can walk. I just can’t race.
VENTURINI: Do you have any limitations or side effects?
NADEAU: I think the biggest thing is the whole left side of my body is still numb to this day. It has been like that for three years. Really, I guess you can say, as sharp as I used to be.
VENTURINI: As you approach your third year of recovery, do the doctors feel that you are going to continue to improve?
NADEAU: I don’t think it’s going to get that much better. I think …what they are trying to explain to me is that the first two years, two and a half years is when you are as good as you are going to get. And anything after two and half years is going to be small increments. You know, one day it’s like a light switch. Your light switch, right now, is off. One day it will turn back on. Well, I am still kind of waiting for that light switch to turn back on.
VENTURINI: When you look at your daughter, Natalie, do you ever regret your racing career?
NADEAU: Not at all. I don’t regret anything that I did in racing. I mean, that’s why I am able to carry on with life and not have to worry so much about going back to racing.
VENTURINI: Deep down in your heart, do you ever feel you will race in NASCAR again?
NADEAU: Probably not. But you know, I’m 36 and it’s like god why so young? What do I do? I don’t know. There are some days that I feel like I could go out and at least test or do something. I don’t know. That’s hard to answer that one, Wendy.
VENTURINI: Do you finally feel like you can look on the other side of it and say, ‘Yeah, I did overcome it all and I survived it’?
NADEAU: Yes and no. I was busy at the time (of the accident), I was making money. I was doing everything that I had to do. People were happy and then all of a sudden it was like, it all stopped. And I do regret some parts where I got stuck in the trap in racing. I forgot about everything else. I surrounded myself just around racing. And I just cleared everything around me. And then when the wall happened, then I started realizing ‘Wow, there’s more than just racing, there’s life.’
I can’t make anything come back from that accident. All I try to do is make it better … I try to make my life a little better. I used to be so intense with racing and now I’m just going with the flow. It’s not as fun, but it’s not as difficult either. I mean it was pretty difficult in racing. You are always intense and you always have things you have to do, and now I’m just going with the flow.
SPEED, celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2006, is the nation’s first and foremost cable network dedicated to motor sports and the passion for everything automotive. From racing to restoration, motorcycles to movies, SPEED delivers quality programming from the track to the garage. Now available in more than 71 million homes in North America, SPEED is among the fastest growing sports cable networks in the country, the home to NASCAR TV and an industry leader in interactive TV, video on-demand, mobile initiatives and broadband services.