INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball is living out his dream, racing in the Indy 500 on Sunday. But in order to see that dream become reality, he is overcoming a major obstacle — his diabetes.
Kimball won't let this illness slow him down.
"I always say that when I am driving, diabetes is just along for the ride; it's not in the driver's seat. It may be in the passenger seat and it goes everywhere with me, but it's not driving my life, it's not driving my racecar. So to be able to get in the car and focus on driving is really important to me," Kimball said.
Preparation is key for controlling his diabetes. Fitness and diet go a long way.
"A little homemade pasta salad — that way, when we bake it at home, we know that we aren't getting a lot of extra fat or a lot of extra sugars, or anything in there. So I can really track and count the amount of carbs, both in the bread and the pasta salad for me," Kimball said.
Kimball has to give himself shots of insulin, but he won't need to during the race.
"The length of the needle I use on my flex pin is very, very small, so with the fire suit it would be very prohibitive. The other thing is, driving an IndyCar is so physical — it's why we spend so much time in the gym training and preparing — that my blood glucose tends to burn off so I'm not worried about high blood sugar and needing that insulin to lower it," Kimball said.
He and the team always have a back-up plan as well.
"Most IndyCar drivers have a drink bottle system in the car to stay hydrated. Well my system actually has two bottles, one full of water so I can stay hydrated throughout the race and a second one full of orange juice. There is a valve in the cockpit so I can switch between water and orange juice depending on what I need, and if I need to bring my sugars up," Kimball said.
Kimball doesn't take the platform IndyCar gives for granted; he knows his message can be an inspiration to others.
"Diabetes doesn't have to slow you down. You can still live your dream, and that message is so fulfilling to me, that it gives me good perspective. When I come off the race track, if I finished first or haven't had a great day, the fact that I was out there competing is a victory for so many people," Kimball said.
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