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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Charlie Kimball prepares to practice Wednesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Thursday, May 23, 2019 1:00 am

Kimball driven by diabetes advocacy

Racing 12 years since receiving diagnosis

ELIZABETH WYMAN | The Journal Gazette

Indy 500

Where: Indianapolis.

When: 12:30 p.m. Sunday

Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (oval, 2.5 miles)

Race distance: 500 miles, 200 laps

Last year: Will Power led 59 laps in winning the 102nd Indy 500


INDIANAPOLIS – It's been 12 years since IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball was diagnosed with diabetes at age 22. He became the first known person with the disease to win a Verizon IndyCar series race, and, for the 11th year, Kimball's teaming up with Novo Nordisk to continue advocating for the 100 million American with diabetes.

“The more I meet people within the diabetes community the more it inspires me,” Kimball said.

“If it's a family, ... the mom talks about getting up every three hours, every night of her life since her son was diagnosed with diabetes to check their blood sugar. If it's with a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) like the Dexcom G6 or a traditional finger stick. If it's an adult who's had diabetes for 60 years and they remember checking their blood sugar with a stick in urine, and now they're wearing the same CGM as I am.”

The 34-year-old will race five times this season for Carlin. The No. 23 Fiasp car, which Kimball will start from the 20th spot in the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, once again will be equipped with a steering wheel that has a continuous glucose monitor, tracking his blood sugar at all times.

Fiasp, a Novo Nordsik insulin brand that Kimball uses every day, is plastered all over his white, black and yellow Chevrolet. It's all part of his Race With Insulin program, which encourages diabetes awareness.

“I've used Novo Nordisk insulin and delivery devices since the day I was diagnosed back in 2007, and the relationship with them has been really rewarding for me,” Kimball said. “As a driver with diabetes and the first licensed driver with diabetes to qualify for and race in the Indy 500, being able to share that message to the racing community, bring that diabetes community to the racetrack, so to speak, has been incredible.”

Kimball also disclosed that Fiasp would also be on his car for the DXC Technology 600 at the Texas Motor Speedway on June 8.

The Camarillo, California, native makes it a point to interact with children and adults withdiabetes, saying he draws from their experiences to motivate him.

“I met a guy about six months ago at an event,” Kimball said. “He was 63 and he had diabetes for 50 years, and he just ran his first marathon. Stories like those inspire what I do on the racetrack, because I draw energy and excitement from them.”

While Kimball's continued advocacy work through racing is nothing new, he does have one new addition to his racing team – his 7-month-old daughter, Hannah.

“It's really special. Being a dad, I'm finding out is some of the best stuff in the world,” Kimball said. “Being able to come home to her no matter a good or bad day at the race track in the car or not, she's always there with a smile for me.”

In 2018 on Bump Day, the Kimball family announced they were expecting, tabbing it Baby Bump Day. Kimball said he's always had the dad jokes before even becoming one.

“This year in our qualifying photo we had the Kimball full row of three,” he added. “I can't wait to show her this place and what it means to me. If I'm still driving when she's old enough to understand or not, the fact that I've had my history here and she's been able to experience it – whatever the future holds – is very neat.”