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Diabetes Won't Slow Down Racer Charlie Kimball

The pro Indycar driver didn't let a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis end his career.

Like most type 1 diabetics, Charlie Kimball has a typical morning. He wakes up, brushes his teeth, showers, then gets dressed. Before having a breakfast possibly including toast and eggs, he'll test his sugar level, then inject himself with insulin before actually starting his breakfast. He'll inject himself before every meal, as well as monitor his glucose levels. By 7:30 AM, he's already at work, which happens to be on a track.

But Kimball doesn't have the typical diabetic life—he's a professional racecar driver. The first diabetic IndyCar driver to qualify and start for the Indianapolis 500. Kimball always had racing in his blood, but more from a technical standpoint. His dad was a mechanical engineer that worked on racecars. Born in England but raised in California, racing helped Kimball bond with his dad. “It was a way for my dad and I to spend some time together on the weekends, and he enjoyed the racetrack having worked in racing."

The defining moment came when Charlie turned 16. “For my 16th birthday, rather than my parents giving me a car, they gave me a two-day practice in the formula ford. After the test, I was convinced that was the right way to go.” His parents didn’t quite agree, it took eight months of convincing for them to let him try racing, and even then they were adamant that “Bs didn’t race.” Charlie had to maintain straight As throughout high school, which managed to get him into Stanford University’s Mechanical Engineering Program.

However, according to Kimball “Racing, motorsports had really gotten under my skin and into my blood" and he couldn't give up his dream of becoming a racecar driver. Thanks to a two year deferral from the university, he was able to put a hiatus on attending Stanford and attempt to race full-time. With support from his parents, at age 18 Charlie ventured to Europe to check his merit.

"I think my parents wanted to test me a little bit so they sent me to Europe to see how committed to racing I was. Living on my own with no friends, no real support system, in England, culture shocked, really competitive aggressive racing. Coming from California and going back to England, it was a good opportunity for them to evaluate if I was doing this for fun, or really loved racing and wanted to continue to pursue it." He didn't do too badly: as a rookie he had several wins and 10 podiums.

By 2005, he was the first American in 13 years to win a British F3 Race. Kimball wasn't just pursuing his dream at being a racecar driver, he was succeeding in it." I met some incredible people and been to some amazing racetracks around the world. And that experience was like none other," notes Kimball.

NEXT: A frightening diagnosis >>



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