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Gerald G. Gradl, retired professional race car driver

June 9, 1935 — Jan. 20, 2015

Gerald G. Gradl, of Amherst, a retired professional race car driver and owner of Jerry Gradl Motors, died Jan. 20 at a hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he had been spending the winter. He was 79.

Born in Buffalo, Mr. Gradl attended Hutch-Tech High School. He began racing jalopy stock cars at age 16 in the former Civic Stadium and founded the Jerry Gradl Motors dealership in 1954.

He was stationed in Korea with the Air Force during the late 1950s. He met the former Carol Voss at a Dodge dealership on Bailey Avenue in the late 1960s and they were married soon after.

In 1970, he founded Shadracks, a nightclub with locations on Broadway and in St. Pete Beach, Fla. Mr. Gradl also served on the Board of Parking for the City of Buffalo during the 1970s.

Among his racing awards were the jalopy championship at Civic Stadium in 1956, the street stock car championship at the Poconos in 1983 and first place in the world series of asphalt stock car racing in 1986 at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Debbie Morabito and Deanna Saxon; three sons, Gerald, Garrett and Geoffrey; 10 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday in Dietrich Funeral Home, 2480 Kensington Ave., Amherst.

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