Charlie Kimball is someone who takes spins around racetracks at speeds in excess of 200 mph and he’s also someone who takes a positive spin regarding the illness that first impacted his life over six years ago, when he was first diagnosed with Type One diabetes.
“It’s impacted my racing career, but it has in a positive way,” said Kimball, driver of the No. 83 IndyCar Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing. “I have to be so conscientious of my nutrition and my eating and my blood-sugar management that every time I get in the car, I enjoy it a little more and I feel that I am better prepared.
“I think I’m a better athlete because of my diabetes.”
At the North American International Auto Show on the weekend to promote the May 30-June 1 Detroit Chevrolet Belle Isle Grand Prix, Kimball was 22 when he was first stricken with diabetes and admits that originally, it brought this speed demon to a sudden halt.
“I was racing in Europe in 2007 and went into the doctor with a heat rash and came away with a diagnosis of diabetes,” Kimball recalled. “Without any family history of it, it was a pretty big surprise to me.
“I had to learn a lot about what it meant to me as a person, me as an athlete and finally, me as a racing driver.”
Quickly changing gears, he tackled his illness with the same fervor he does a rugged road course like the one on Belle Isle, but gives credit to everyone in his race team for helping keep his diabetes under control.
“It takes the whole team to manage it,” said Kimball whose sponsor, Novo Nordisk, considered the world leader in diabetes management care. “To be able to work with them and continue to develop my management regimen has been really helpful.
“Also, the modern insulin, the tools I use, it’s better now than they ever have been.”