"The Worst Thing In The Absolute World Is When Someone Else Drives Your Race Car"

Here's what I need you to do right now, Jalops. I need you to click on over to ESPN.com and read Marty Smith's heartbreaking but extremely well-written story about former NASCAR driver Jerry Nadeau, who was injured in a racing crash nearly 10 years ago.

In May 2003 at Richmond International Raceway, Nadeau's car slammed into a concrete wall at 121 G's during a practice. The crash gave him a traumatic brain injury which left him feeling numb 24 hours a day and cost him his racing career. More than that, it cost him something that drove his entire life.

"I just don't know what to do now," he said. "I'm literally lost at times. I wake up like, 'Well, what am I doing today?' There are so many times that I forget things. I feel normal. I feel like I'm myself. Sounding OK is one thing. But something's not right. I used to have so much get-up-and-go. Right now I'm just a loaf. I don't know if the injury had anything to do with it, but I'm just not interested in doing anything.


These days Nadeau spends much of his time buying and selling things at online auctions, in some ways trying to recapture the hunt and the thrill that came along with racing. But it's not the same.

For a time he tried mentoring young NASCAR drivers, but he said that being at a racetrack — but not being part of the action — "just hurt me so bad," he said.

"It was hard to go to the track and see all my friends and my team, and seeing someone drive the U.S. Army car just killed me. The worst thing in the absolute world is when someone else drives your race car. My heart was pulled out of my body. I just lost it.

Today, Nadeau says he has grown much closer to his family since he was a young, hotshot driver. He dreams of one day returning to NASCAR, where the cars and tracks have gotten much safer. But he's understandably wary of the proposition, worried that another hit could be his last.

It's worth reading because while much virtual ink is spent here extolling the greatness and glory of racing, we don't always think much about what happens when it goes wrong. That's especially true in a sport like NASCAR, where many fans profess to love big crashes.


Go check it out. It's worth your time. Then tell us what you think in the comments.

Photo credit 2003 Getty Images

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