Charlie Kimball is my diabetes hero

I have been an auto racing fan for over 40 years--actually, I am much more than a fan, in fact. I have been on the inside of racing since 1969, participating as a turn marshal, starter, pit crewman, driver, announcer and racing writer. I am currently active as both an announcer and racing writer. I also have diabetes, so I was fascinated to learn about Charlie Kimball, an IndyCar driver who has type 1 diabetes. In fact, Charlie is the first diabetic to be licensed to drive Indy Cars.

Charle Kimball races with type 1 diabetes

Charlie started racing go-karts at nine years of age, and worked his way up through amateur racing in open-wheel cars starting in 2002. I did some amateur racing myself some years ago, before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. So I know a little bit about the concentration involved in driving a race car, and the stresses it puts on the body.

After success driving a Formula Ford in US amateur racing, he began competing in Europe in 2003, eventually moving into the Formula 3 series. Charlie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2007 and hospitalized, which caused him to miss the last two races of the season that year. However, the following year he was back in a race car, continuing his upward progression in the sport. He returned to the US in 2009 to drive in the Indy Lights series, which led to a ride in the IZOD IndyCar series in 2011 with the powerful Ganassi Racing team.

Charlie drives with a wireless glucose monitor which gives him and his crew real-time blood sugar readings. He also has an onboard drink bottle with sugar water in case he needs a glucose boost. His car is sponsored by Novo Nordisk, a manufacturer of diabetes medicines. Charlie stars in TV commercials for Novo Nordisk’s FlexPen insulin delivery system, and raises diabetes awareness among race fans with the “Race with Insulin” tour at tracks where the IZOD IndyCar series races. Charlie qualified 14th for the 2012 Indy 500 with a four-lap average speed of 223.868 miles per hour. He was faster than both of the senior Ganassi drivers, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, both of whom are past winners of the 500.

So for competing in an extremely difficult and dangerous sport and giving hope and support for people with diabetes, Charlie Kimball is my diabetes hero. I will be cheering him on when the green flag drops on the Indy 500 on May 27.

About Roger Diez

Roger Diez was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in September 2008. He subsequently lost 40 pounds and is now happy to share he is off medication and controls his diabetes through diet and exercise.

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