"I'll be back": Jerry Nadeau

LOUDON, N.H. - Winston Cup driver Jerry Nadeau, who suffered a serious head injury during a practice crash at Richmond International Raceway earlier this season, made his first visit back to the track this weekend at New Hampshire. Nadeau met...

LOUDON, N.H. - Winston Cup driver Jerry Nadeau, who suffered a serious head injury during a practice crash at Richmond International Raceway earlier this season, made his first visit back to the track this weekend at New Hampshire.

Nadeau met with NASCAR media and appeared fit. He used humor to offset some of the horrors he has encountered during his recovery. Among the obstacles Nadeau has had to face, is a loss of feeling on the left side of his body, and side effects from his head injury. They included a slight slurring of speech, and some vision problems.

"I feel like I'm cross-eyed, but I'm not," said Nadeau. "My mind is playing some tricks, and it's just a matter of making it better and that's what I'm waiting for."

Despite the ordeal Nadeau has gone through, and the cloudiness he still endures due to his brain injury, one thing is perfectly clear to him: a desire to return to NASCAR Winston Cup racing.

"It's just a matter of time," Nadeau said. "I think I'll know when I'm ready. It's more of a mind thing. Physically, I'm fine. I've just got to wait for the brain to heal, and I'll be back."

Nadeau left the hospital on June 6th, but continues outpatient therapy sessions that include physical, occupational and speech treatments. The sessions are designed to help Nadeau relearn many of the day-to-day motor functions he used to take for granted.

"You've got to teach your brain basically what you used to do," Nadeau said. "It's like training a dog. You've got to tell them, 'Go potty here.' I'm just basically going through the whole procedures of getting myself better."

Dr. Jerry Petty, a North Carolina neurosurgeon, is pleased with the progress Nadeau is making after suffering three areas of bruising on his brain after the accident.

"He's made tremendous progress," Petty said.

Until the time when Nadeau can return to the track as a competitor, he is placating himself by turning the track in a go-kart.

"Yesterday, we did a 45-minute session in go-karts and I was the only one that lasted," said Nadeau. "So I think my endurance is pretty good. You have physical therapy and occupational therapy, which is where they work on your upper body. There's mind therapy, speech therapy.

"It's not just about talking. It's about things that can make you think. It's like card games, stuff that makes you think. There are a lot of things in therapy that really help. I'll read a newspaper and then they'll ask me, 'what did you read? What is the topic?' There are a lot of good things that come out of that."

When asked what he has learned most through this difficult time Nadeau responded with his usual wry sense of humor, "I have a hard head!"

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jerry Nadeau