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.

CharlieChicago The Insulin Powered Indy Car

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 http://www.indycar.com/fil/.

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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