IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball is showing people across the country diabetes doesn’t have to be a roadblock in their career paths.
Kimball visited with 5-year-old Jaiden Nelson, a 5-year-old Type 1 diabetic from Clarkston who was born without a pancreas, before Sunday afternoon’s IndyCar race on Belle Isle.
Then, Kimball took the track and earned a season’s best third-place finish in Race No. 2 of the doubleheader weekend for a spot on the podium.
Kimball passed his Ganassi teammate, defending series champion Scott Dixon late in the race, then had to hold off James Hinchcliffe on the final lap to secure the opportunity to celebrate with race winner Helio Castroneves and second-place finisher Will Power.
“Scott got a little off line and I was able to get past him,” Kimball said of his pass on Dixon.
Yes, Kimball’s day was impressive, especially since he had to use reverse in Turn 3 of the opening lap to get out of the crashed cars of Josef Newgarden and Graham Rahal.
Kimball, who drives the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet for Ganassi, has visited thousands of diabetics during the past two years. He spent time visiting with Jaiden, her younger brother, 4-year-old Michael Nelson and their parents, Callie and Mark Nelson of Clarkston.
“It’s a lot of fun to meet other diabetes patients and hear their stories because my lifestyle is pretty unique being a racing driver, being in IndyCar, being the one driver with diabetes, but the opportunity to meet and hear other people’s stories and share with them what I do is very fulfilling. It brings a lot of balance because when I’m in the Novo Nordisk car if I’m not first I’m not really happy and that’s the competitor in me. When I come and meet somebody like Jaiden, I know that the fact I’m out their competing for her and her family is a success, it’s a victory.
“I’m trying to encourage them that racing with insulin means you don’t have to slow down, diabetes doesn’t have to slow you down. You can still live your dreams, you can still overcome those challenges and if it’s diabetes that’s the challenge or something else, you can still chase your passions.”
Kimball said Novo Nordisk, his sponsor, makes the insulin and the insulin delivery device that he uses to control his sugar.
“It allows me to manage my blood sugar so that I can do what I do,” said Kimball who said he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 22. “I’m 29 and I’ve never had any issues, diabetes hasn’t affected me in the race car, it hasn’t taken me out of the car from doing what I love doing.”
Yes, Kimball competed in consecutive IndyCar races, 70-lap events against some of the greatest drivers in the world. So, how did it go?
“I finished ninth yesterday and third today … let’s go again tomorrow.”
Kimball moved up to 14th in the standings.