LEXINGTON, Ohio – On Oct. 16, 2007, life changed for Charlie Kimball.
It was that day that the then-22-year-old’s quality of life and blossoming racing career was dealt a blow as he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“I remember that day being pretty dark. And today is pretty bright,” Kimball said after posting his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Aug. 4. “To come five years later and get a race win in what I think is the most competitive open wheel series probably in the world at the minute is pretty fantastic.”
Through the intervening years, consultation and planning with his endocrinologist has allowed Kimball to continue his motorsports career. It’s a matter of how he manages the autoimmune disorder that afflicts about 26 million (and growing) individuals in the United States.
It’s a message he shares through initiatives of sponsor Novo Nordisk. Diabetes awareness and education are main topics of the programs, while Kimball’s resolve of not being slowed by diabetes to pursue his dreams is the message.
“Together, we’ve grown our partnership from a small logo on my suit and talking about having diabetes to a full program,” said Kimball about the global diabetes care company that aligned with Kimball in Firestone Indy Lights in 2009. “The opportunity for me to meet all sorts of great people with diabetes across the country, tell them my story and hear their stories, it reminds me that no matter how good or bad a day I have at the racetrack it’s more important than just me in the race car.
“It’s nice to be able to come back from that (diagnosis), rebuild and find a whole incredible community to be a part of.”
He’s also the newest member – the fourth this season – of the Indy car winning driver community. Kimball, who started fifth in the 90-lap race in the Honda-powered No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chip Ganassi Racing car, played out a three-stop strategy designed by race strategist Tom Wurtz and race engineer Brad Goldberg to perfection.
He overtook eventual race runner-up Simon Pagenaud on Lap 73 and went on to become the ninth different winner in 14 races this season.