Schrader grew up in Fenton, Mo., and at the young age of three, his dad, Bill, tied a cable from his go-kart to a post in the backyard of their Midwestern home. Schrader would go round and round in circles. When the go-kart ran out of gas, Schrader would ask his dad to fill it back up. Then he would start going in circles all over again.
Schrader’s love of racing has only progressed over the years. At one point in his career, Schrader was running in excess of 100 races each year. In recent years, Schrader has cut that number back to about 90 races a season, but he still climbs in that race car every time he has the chance.
For the past 20 years, Schrader has focused on racing full-time in the Nextel Cup Series. However, he also drives for his self-owned team in a variety of series including the Craftsman Truck Series, the NASCAR Grand National West Division, the NASCAR Auto Zone Elite Southwest Series and the ARCA Series. Schrader also finds time to stay close to his roots as he also races at various dirt tracks throughout the Midwest each year.
Driving and owning his own team isn’t Schrader’s only connection to racing. For the past nine years, he has also been co-promoter for one of the 3/8-mile dirt tracks where he grew up racing – I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo.
Schrader’s career started at local dirt tracks just like the one he now owns. Before getting behind the wheel of a stock car, Schrader raced all over the Midwest, driving mostly open wheel cars.
He won in every division he raced, including two USAC championships. Schrader won the USAC Silver Crown championship in 1982, and he followed that up by taking top honors in the USAC Sprint Car division in 1983.
Despite his success in the open wheel ranks, Schrader wanted to find a permanent home in a stock car circuit.
His big break came in 1984 with the help of car owner Elmo Langley. Schrader rented Langley’s Fords for three races in 1984 before running out of money. By being smart on the race track and careful with the equipment, Langley allowed Schrader to run two extra races that year. By the end of the season, the cars were still in one piece and Schrader had gotten his first taste of the big show.
He wasted no time making his case for a full-time ride in the Winston Cup Series. Car owner Junie Donlavey was impressed by Schrader’s talent, and he decided to take a chance on the young driver. Donlavey’s hunch paid off as Schrader scored three top-10 finishes en route to Rookie of the Year honors for the 1985 season.
From Donlavey Racing, Schrader moved to Hendrick Motorsports in 1988. Schrader earned all four of his victories in nine seasons with the Hendrick Motorsports organization from behind the wheel of the No. 25 Chevrolet. During his nine seasons with Hendrick, Schrader accumulated 15 poles, 54 top-five and 110 top-10 finishes. Schrader also scored his career-best Cup points finish – a fourth-place finish in 1994.
Then in 1997, Schrader moved to the fledgling Andy Petree Racing. In three years, Schrader claimed five poles and 25 top-10 finishes.
Schrader drove for MB2 Motorsports from 2000 to 2002, where he posted seven more top-10 finishes.
In 2003, Schrader moved to BAM Motorsports and the No. 49 Dodge. In his two-and-a-half seasons behind the wheel of the No. 49 Schwan’s Home Services Dodge, Schrader has added five top-10 finishes to his resume (through SearsPoint on June 26, 2005).
Over the past 20 years in the Nextel Cup Series, Schrader has collected a total 640 starts and more than $25 million in earnings. He has four wins to his credit in the Nextel Cup ranks (Talladega, 1988; Charlotte 1989; Atlanta, 1991; Dover, 1991) as well as 64 top-five and 181 top-10 finishes. Schrader has also led the field to the green flag on 23 occasions during his career.
Schrader’s record behind the wheel of his Schrader Racing entries is just as impressive.
He has claimed 25 victories in a variety of series since Schrader Racing were formed in 1987. The Schrader Racing team has also won 17 races with other drivers at the helm. And these numbers don’t begin to include the numerous time Schrader has taken top honors at dirt tracks.