Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nadeau Has an Army of Supporters

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nadeau Has an Army of Supporters

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports writer

DAYTONA BEACH -- In other spots on earth -- jungles, deserts and mountains -- the colors might blend into the landscape. But amid the neon-like setting of the Daytona International Speedway garages, Jerry Nadeau's clothes actually make him stand out.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is wearing Bud red. Tony Stewart has on Home Depot orange. John Andretti is covered in Cheerios yellow.

Nadeau is in brown.

U.S. Army brown.

To be accurate, he sometimes wears black. And his clothing is dotted with brighter patches, including a red, white and blue flag near his heart. But the look still is the closest thing around here to camouflage, which in this case jumps out and -- along with "An Army of One" on his chest and "goarmy.com" on his sleeve -- reminds you that this isn't your average corporate tie-in.

"It's a cool sponsor," Nadeau said. "You can buy sneakers. You can buy Budweiser. But you can't buy the experience of the U.S. Army."

Through the years, the Daytona 500 has attracted an interesting mix of sponsors, from Havoline to Hooters, from Valvoline to Viagra. But this is a new one.

One year after the military pumped dollars into racing at a variety of levels -- the Navy in the Craftsman Truck Series, Marines in the Busch series, Air Force as a partial sponsor in Busch and Winston Cup -- the Army decided to step up to NASCAR's big leagues.

It hooked up with a 32-year-old driver from Danbury, Conn., who says his perseverance -- eight years ago, he moved to North Carolina and, while waiting for a break, did odd jobs such as mowing lawns, hanging drywall and driving Winston Cup cars to displays -- can be traced to his father's military background.

Gerard Nadeau, a former driver and mechanic in the 57th Artillery, recalled proudly last week: "I had the best looking jeep in four batteries. …

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