May 03 2013

Managing Diabetes Trackside at the Long Beach Grand Prix

Published by under diabetes,healthcare,news,press

A quick post and a couple of behind the scenes photos of Dr. Anne Peters during the taping of the behind the scenes TV show “INDYCAR 36″ that follows Charlie Kimball on and off the track before the Long Beach Grand Prix.

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Checking Charlie’s meter after practice.

The great part of being with Charlie’s doctor at the track is being in the pits during the race preparation and practice sessions and sitting with his family and friends in the stands during the race.

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Interview with Anne and Charlie back at the trailer.

The “INDYCAR 36″ show airs on Saturday May 4th.

Mark Harmel

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May 26 2011

Off to The Indy 500

Update: Before the street race in Baltimore Charlie Kimball talked with New York Times Wheels writer Roy Furchott about how he drives 200 MPH without having a blood sugar of 200.  

I’m off to the Indy 500 tomorrow to view to 100th Anniversary of the race and to see Charlie Kimball be the first driver with type 1 diabetes to compete in the race. I’ve written about being with him at races before and now you get to hear from him directly in this interview that was conducted at the Long Beach Grand Prix in April.

Charlie talks about how he learned to continue his racing career after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He is interviewed by my wife and his doctor – Anne Peters, the Director of the USC Clinical Diabetes Programs. Together they have worked out a system for Charlie to manage his diabetes while racing.

Additionally, Charlie reveals his emotions when he was first diagnoses with diabetes. He shares how he learned about his condition from other patients and bloggers, plus offers advice for other doctors about how they could work with their own patient athletes.

If you are an athlete with diabetes or help to treat one you will want to view Anne’s extended video on Medscape about how she works with Charlie to manage his blood sugar while racing. (Free registration required).

To get in the mood for the race watch Charlie go for the win in last year’s Indy Lights race at Indianapolis last year. This shows that he is excels on oval tracks as well as road courses.

As an added bonus read about how Charlie is the 2nd Kimball to make history at Indy. His father Gordon was the chief designer engineer of Pat Patrick cars that won the Indy 500 in 1981, ’82 and ’84. He and wife Nancy also get credit for raising a son they can be proud of on and off the track.

(A huge thanks go out to my friend John McBride who had the skill, wisdom and patience to turn my stills and video into a professional presentation.)

Mark Harmel

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Mar 28 2011

Charlie Kimball’s Big Move to IndyCar

Published by under diabetes,healthcare,travel,worklife

Yesterday was the IndyCar series opener in St. Petersburg, Florida and the first race that Charlie KImball ran in the big league series.  I’ve written before about him developing type 1 diabetes while he was racing in Europe and how my wife worked with him to manage his diabetes in the race car well enough to combine with his talent to drive into the premier US open-wheel auto racing series. The race was won by Ganassi teammate Dario Franchitti.

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Charlie squeezing into his seat before the race

Having safely driven through a crash-fill start today Charlie worked up to 11th place before he had an unplanned connection with the turn three wall after a pit stop. The Indy Light series, where he raced the prior two years doesn’t have pit stops, and the high-speed action of changing tires and refueling was one of the many new challenges in this race. He learned the hard way today how much he can push the car with the mixture of cold tires, a full tank of fuel and racing adrenaline.

The race was run on a mix of city streets and an airport runway at a track familiar to Charlie from his Indy Lights experience. That series served as a great training ground for his move into IndyCars. There is a list of important changes that Charlie needs to master, but the race environment is very familiar.

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Pre-race fist bump with proud racing engineer father Gordon Kimball

One constant is the trackside presence of his father Gordon who serves as Charlie’s low-key manager while maintaining an active motorsport engineering and avocado-farming career. Charlie’s mother and girlfriend often join them at the track as well.

This was my first time at the St. Petersburg race, but the street course track felt familiar to the Long Beach race last year. Unlike the transition from minor league baseball to the pros where there are different stadium sizes and crowds, the Indy lights and IndyCars series are run on the same tracks on the same days.

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Charlie talking in his pit control center after qualifying

In many ways this felt like Charlie’s third year in the greater IndyCar series instead of being a rookie a new racing world.  The encouraging part about the day was how well he performed while on the racetrack. He stayed out of early trouble as other drivers took themselves out through crashes plus he made on-track passes.

The rookie mistakes, like the one he made today will pass and he will progress to finishing races and being a competitive force while being an ambassador for diabetes.

Mark Harmel

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Dec 17 2010

The Insulin Powered Indy Car

UPDATE: Charlie Kimball signed with championship winning IndyCar team Chip Ganassi Racing. “Charlie Kimball orchestrated one of the biggest rookie IndyCar driver signings in recent history”, says Speed’s Marshall Pruett.

There are those that say that the reason fans watch car races is to see the crashes. I was always more interested in the racing – and now that I know a driver I certainly didn’t like to see Charlie Kimball upside down on the track like he was at Chicagoland Speedway last week.

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This was a crash I didn’t want to see

Fortunately the cars are built with a strong driver’s cockpit and Charlie walked away with only memories of a “wild ride down the backstretch” and some soreness. (You can see the wild ride just before the 3 minute mark.)

A better memory is watching Charlie celebrate his second place finish in Sonoma the previous week.  It was an exciting race, one that we thought could have been his first Indy Lights victory.

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Better to see Charlie Kimball celebrating his second place finish than upside down

The Sonoma track is a wonderful winding road course with elevation changes that I was able to experience first hand in a pace car ride piloted by Charlie where he alternated between rocketing through the turns and turning his head to chat with passengers in the back seat. We knew we were in for a ride as we entered the car and Charlie told us not to worry about the odd burnt brake smell emanating from the Honda Accord.

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Charlie with his full attention on the racetrack

This pace car ride was only part of a dream weekend in Sonoma that started with dinner at the Andretti winery. We sat one table over from the owner, legendary driver Mario Andretti as well as having the opportunity to chat with team owner Michael Andretti. An added bonus was the front row seat to the introduction of all the Andretti Autosport drivers that include Michael’s son Marco, Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Charlie’s Indy Lights teammate Martin Plowman.

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One of the few times my wife wasn’t grabbing Charlie’s continuous glucose monitor

I got this combination up close and back-stage view to world of racing when my wife Anne Peters became Charlie’s diabetes doctor (more of the back story in a previous post). This opened up the winery dinner, pace-car ride, plus viewing the races from a mix of the hillside Andretti team hospitality compound and down in the pits. A bonus is socializing with the Kimball family, team sponsors and getting special tours explaining the similarities and differences of the Indy Lights and Indy cars by team mechanics.

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Charlie Kimball is a spokesman for diabetes on and off the track

Amazingly much of this is possible because of Charlie developing type 1 diabetes three years ago. He is now a leading inspirational athlete that speaks at a number of diabetes events about how he controls his blood sugar during the race and generates press attention as the series travels from racing circuits across the country.

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The final good luck fist-bump before qualifying

In the end, once the novelty of a driver with type 1 diabetes wears off what will matter is how well Charlie does on the track. He is currently 3rd in the driver’s standings and is gunning to move up to a major-league Indy team next year.

Charlie finished 6th in Kentucky on Saturday and the final race is in Homestead, Fl on Oct. 2nd. The Indy Lights qualifying and races can be viewed on-line at

I know that I’m enjoying the ride.

To see how Charlie manages his diabetes you can watch this WGN report that was produced at the Chicago race that shows where he stows his glucose increasing orange juice and how his continuous glucose monitor works.

Mark Harmel

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Feb 06 2010

don rickles as the superbowl flower voice

Published by under diabetes,news,portraits

Update: Trailers for the Toy Story 3 movie have been released today. You can hear Don as Mr. Potato Head in the clips.

The battle for your attention has begun. It’s Superbowl ad season, and only one ad has caught my attention so far. It has a talking flower and more importantly the voice of Don Rickles.

Watch the behind the scenes video teaser that has too many flowers and not enough of Don. But it’s worth look for the quips from Don anyway.

Behind the scenes video

A nice touch is the playing of Don’s bull fight theme

Like many, I grew up knowing Don as wacky characters in the Annette & Frankie beach movies and his appearances on the Tonight Show. He fell off my radar until a couple of years ago when he became a patient of my wife and agreed to be involved in her Conquering Diabetes book.

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"Diabetes can be controlled, provided you don't pass out every-time you prick your finger."

This gave me the opportunity to meet him in person and visit his house for a portrait session. After his initial joke where he asked the guard at the gate to turn me away, I discovered the secret to how he gets away with all of his insults. Deep down he’s a warm and loving guy.

When he’s not voicing a flower or Mr. Potato Head, Don still actively performs on stage where he is aggressively engages with his audience. (He’s in Vegas on Feb. 20 & 21st). What’s fascinating is how much he can get away with while bringing up the hot button issues of race and religion. He can insult people and make both the audience and the individual laugh. Balancing on that fine line of insult and compassion is what I think is his real talent.

It’s still a treat to pick up the home office phone and unexpectedly have Don on the other end of the line. He’s not always joking, but he is always kind. I honor my collection of memorabilia from his 80th birthday party and I look forward to Don and Barbara’s 45th wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks.

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Memorabilia from Don Rickles' 80th birthday party

I hope that Teleflora will be sending plenty of flowers to their anniversary party. And with Valentine’s Day coming up: Get up order some flowers you Hockey Puck! Keep Don famous so that he can keep us laughing for another 80 years.

Mark Harmel


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Jan 02 2010

why all this talk about diabetes & what’s a knol?

Published by under diabetes,healthcare,process

Update: Is your resolution is to treat your diabetes better this year? I have great a place to start. My wife wrote an excellent primer on how to treat Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. More on her background and the Google Knols can be found below. Happy New Year!

This is normally the time of year (originally published on June, 6, 2009) that I attend the American Diabetes Association Convention. It is a great opportunity to network, check out the convention displays and visit agencies in the host city.

You may have noticed that a number of my posts (like the recent one on Charlie Kimball) have references to diabetes. Its not that I have diabetes – my connection comes from being married to Anne Peters, a leading diabetes doctor. We met on assignment. I was asked to take a clinical research photo for UCLA Medical Center. The photo illustrated how the patient data was entered into a laptop and uploaded to the drug company from all the different research sites every night. It was used in a big fund-raising brochure that helped raise money to fund the new UCLA hospital.

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The first clinical research photo and Anne's book cover

That first photo eventually led to a Las Vegas based Elvis wedding and working together on her “Conquering Diabetes” book. I shot the cover and a number patient portraits that were paired with their stories throughout the book as well as overseeing the development of the promotional website.

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Patient portrait of Olympic sprinter Gary Hall, Jr.

This experience opened the door with Abbott Diabetes Care where I initially was asked about taking photos for the website that would announce the launch of their Navigator Continuous Glucose Monitor. A lunch meeting at the 2006 ADA Convention began with the usual discussions about what to shoot and budget and then spun-off into the territory of developing concepts. After an interesting brainstorming session back in their Alameda headquarters the project took a surprise turn. Instead of taking photos for the Navigator project I was asked to put together a team to convert an existing brochure to a website!

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The home page of the Navigator website

There was the expectation that the Navigator would soon be approved by the FDA and a launch site was urgent. I had a resident expert in my wife (who was conducting clinical trials with the device) and I assembled the experienced team of copywriter, Roger Poirier and art director, Lon Davis. I suddenly became a creative director interacting with my wonderful client Steve Bubrick and extrapolating from my years of communication experience to steer the web project, a direct mail piece and bike rider cars for Team Type 1 (I finally was able to take some photos for those).

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Ballerina Zippora Karz demonstrating drawing insulin into a syringe

In 2008 Anne was asked to be one of the charter contributor to the Google Knol project. The original seeding of the Knols came from experts in their field to differentiate them from Wikipedia. They have since become more broad based and similar to Squidoo Lenses. Both her Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes Knols were given the Top Pick Knol Award.

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Video blogs produced for Medscape on diabetes topics

The most recent project with Anne has been producing video blogs for Medscape that have become popular in the professional community. These were supposed to be easy to produce reports and we were given Flip cams to shoot the spots. After I managed to get one of the early Canon 5D MKII cameras that also shoots HD quality video, we switched over to create the 35mm film look that the camera gives. A recent episode on “Treating Diabetes During the Economic Crunch” (free registration required) has content that crosses over to the general public as well.

I recently completed a test using this camera to work out the kinks to use it in a daytime TV promotion, but I’ll save that for a future post.

Mark Harmel


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Nov 18 2009

drive fast – stay healthy with type 1 diabetes

Update: AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport Signs Charlie Kimball to 2010 Firestone Indy Lights Lineup. This was the strongest team in the series in 2009 and should lead to a good 2010 for Charlie.

Parade Magazine talks about Charlie Kimball racing with diabetes and our shared “Charlie’s Angels”.

I’m excited to have my own driver racing at Indianapolis this weekend. Now Charlie Kimball wasn’t always my driver. He was a recent discovery – or more precisely he discovered my wife to become his diabetes doctor. The Camarillo resident was over in Europe racing in the Formula 3 Euro Series when he was hospitalized after becoming ill in England. He had developed Type 1 diabetes and consulted with my wife, Dr. Anne Peters. She has worked with other top athletes with diabetes including Olympic swimmer Gary Hall, Jr.

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Intense focus before his qualifying run at the Long Beach Grand Prix

She worked with him first on managing his diabetes to stay healthy and then progressed to helping him manage his blood sugar while driving. In addition to gauges that monitor his car’s performance you can see his continuous glucose monitor mounted on his steering wheel. The condition that once threatened to end his racing career has now helped him to land major sponsors as he returns to racing in the Indy Lights Series. He even has a new green Levemir paint scheme on his #35 car.

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In the middle of his steering wheel is a Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor

The second race of their season was on the streets of Long Beach and I was able to tag-a-long with his “race doctor” and visit with him back in the racing trailer and be in the pits as he prepared for his qualifying runs and the race. Sitting with his friends and family in the stands it was thrilling to watch him come down the long straightaway and picking off car after car in the 1st turn passing zone. It was very different than my normal NASCAR fan behavior of rooting for a good race, unlike the die-hard fans of Jr. Nation that cheer for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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Getting ready for the race

This Friday (May 22nd) Charlie will race at Indianapolis –  the most important track in America. As he quotes in his blog, “I have been to ‘big’ races all over the world- Monaco Grand Prix, Macau Grand Prix, Long Beach Grand Prix, a Moto GP race. I have even been to qualifying at the 500 before, but being a part of the whole ‘Month of May’ is a totally different experience.”

To learn more about Charlie you can read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

Charlie also has been the talk of the healthcare blog and Twittersphere after he sent out the first branded tweet under his @racewithinsulin moniker. There was a bit of an uproar at first that has died down to an official review of FDA guidelines on how pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers can use social media.

Mark Harmel


 drive fast   stay healthy with type 1 diabetes

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Oct 21 2009

zippora karz “the sugarless plum”

Published by under diabetes,healthcare,portraits

Update: There is a cover feature on Zippora in the February, 2010 issue of Diabetes Forecast.

Zippora Karz was living her dream of dancing in the New York City Ballet. She was a standout in the School of American Ballet founded by George Balanchine and had been anointed by Jerome Robbins to dance in leading roles in the New York City Ballet.

But something was wrong with her instrument – her body.  As she explains“…I didn’t feel right. I felt more fatigued than I should have and tried to ignore the symptoms that were affecting me daily, from hunger pangs and frequent urination, to a spaced- out feeling in my head. But it was the sores under my arms where the costumes rubbed that threatened my ability to perform. They got so infected I could not lift my arms and forced me to go to a doctor.”

Zippora tells her story as a dancer with diabetes in her new book “The Sugarless Plum”. In it she shares her passion for dance and her struggles to find a doctor that could properly diagnose her condition and balance her treatment with the demands of being a world class athlete.

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Zippora Karz posing on sandstone rock formation near her Malibu home

The diabetes doctor she eventually discovered is my wife, Dr. Anne Peters and Zippora shared some of her story in Anne’s book Conquering Diabetes.

“Next I found a doctor who was very balanced in her approach to diabetes. I went back to frequent blood sugar monitoring and taking injections of insulin, but never right before I went on stage. I always kept my meter right offstage in my dance bag and always kept something to reverse a low blood sugar in it. I was finally learning how to adapt to having diabetes.

As I learned the delicate play of dancing with diabetes I also had to look reality in the face. Dancing was my passion, but was this lifestyle realistic for a person with type 1 diabetes? Part of me felt relieved at the idea of quitting. I was tired. But more than that I had lost confidence in my body and in my dancing. Using diabetes as an excuse felt like an easy way out. I thought long and hard about this and eventually decided if I quit then I would never know the truth. So I stayed with the company and hung in there. I eventually found a way to balance my diet, exercise, and performances. Ultimately, I was promoted to the rank of soloist ballerina of the New York City Ballet where I performed until August of 1999.”

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Zippora preparing one of her daily doses of insulin

Zippora was living and dancing in New York City when she was diagnosed with diabetes.  She had access to many endocrinologists and was very persistent in changing doctors until she found one she could work with to help her manage her diabetes and continue dancing.  Because of her persistence, Zippora has done amazingly well.  She had a successful career in the ballet and is now working as a teacher in Los Angeles.  She has no complications from her diabetes and serves as a role model to lots of young people who have diabetes.

I’ve been fortunate enough to witness Zippora in action a number of times at diabetes camps sharing her story and joy of movement with youngsters learning to live with diabetes. There is a great video of Zippora telling her story at her booksite where you can read some excepts as well.

Mark Harmel


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Mar 15 2009

little pink houses for you and me

The rendezvous location for the Salton Sea trip was in Oceanside. I was there back in June 2007 scouting to shoot Team Type 1 for Abbott Diabetes Care in their quest to win the Race Across America bike race. It was then that I discovered a set of teeny, tiny pink rental cottages by the beach. They didn’t fit into the plan to make rider cards, but I knew that I wanted to go back and shoot the cottages sometime.

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Rider card for Team co-founder Phil Southerland

I picked up Martin at the Amtrak station and we headed down to the beach in the early morning light.

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Little Pink Cottages

These cottages remind me of the great work that Joel Meyerwitz did in his Cape Light book.

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Waiting for the beach towels

As we shot the beach community began to wake up give us the opportunity to include dog walkers, joggers or some odd new exercise contraption into the frame.

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Enter a new exercise gadget

Does anyone know what these contraptions are called?

Mark Harmel

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