Racing with Diabetes

For the very first time in several decades, I wasn’t able to make it to the Indianapolis 500 race this past weekend — that is really a bummer as it had been the historic 100th anniversary of this iconic race.

There was great reason, because I had been attending my youngest cousin’s wedding this weekend, but still it was unsatisfactory to break my six-year streak of attending this big Indy race I’ve grown to appreciate.

Nevertheless, it was exciting to know that others and myself in the Diabetes Community were there in soul and even in name.

In early May, Novo Nordisk shared news that several diabetes advocates, business folk and diabetes organizations would have their names shown on T1D driver Charlie Kimball’s car in the Indy 500. I’m honored to be among the 42 names included!

For those who don’t know Charlie’s narrative: that the thirty-something Indianapolis resident has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2007 at age 22, and since then he’s been proving his lifeless pancreas can’t stop him. Charlie was the first driver with T1D permitted to compete at the Indy 500, and this historic run was his 6th year at the race.

Charlie’s been partnered with Novo Nordisk since 2008, along with his racecars display the company’s logos (largely Levemir, the long-acting insulin Charlie’s been promoting). He goes by @RaceWithInsulin on Twitter.

For this 100th running of race, Novo and Charlie’s racing team (Chip Ganassi Racing) decided to do something particular. They changed up the amount of his car from his conventional #83 — that has meaning to his family as this year was the best Indy 500 finish with a car made by his racecar designer father, and has been also lovingly embraced by the diabetes technician innovation #WeAreNotWaiting motion (every time 83 pops up via Nightscout / CGM from the Cloud, the system exhibits an enjoyable “pedal to the metal” material).

Rather, Charlie was sporting #42 — a number tied to diabetes since it signifies Novo’s brand new Tresiba basal insulin that lasts 42 hours, and also appears to be the racecar quantity of fellow Chip Ganassi driver Kyle Larson, with a cousin with T1D. Larson’s automobile carried Charlie’s name during the Coca-Cola 600 race in North Carolina this past weekend, too.

On his car, Charlie also added those 42 names from the D-Community — including well-known PWD advocates like Kerri Sparling, Scott Johnson, Anna Norton of DiabetesSisters, and Dr. Anne Peters who’s Charlie’s endo, alongside the JDRF and ADA and others such as longtime Novo exec Camille Lee. I can still hardly believe that I was included…

Which makes it much more bittersweet that I couldn’t wait to see that car in person.

Novo created a $4,200 donation to the ADA’s Indiana chapter on behalf of the winning driver after 42 of the 200 laps. The business matched that donation to the Charlotte chapter of the ADA on behalf of this top Coke 600 driver after 42 laps too.

Pretty awesome gestures, Novo, plus a few smart goodwill PR!

We have to presume that this was motivated by the interaction with individual advocates at the first-ever Novo D-advocacy forum hosted by the business that April, where we had the opportunity to meet Charlie and even see him compete at the Phoenix Grand Prix.

Disclaimer: I really started utilizing Novo insulin products shortly after this meeting, which I’d love to take the opportunity here to clarify was a complete coincidence having to do with changes for my insurance formulary; I wasn’t pitched or tricked by anything that happened in the Novo advocacy forum

Type 1 Driver Conor Daly Additionally Accelerating His Career

Charlie wasn’t the only D-peep from the Indy 500, as fellow kind 1 Conor Daly was also on the track again. Conor lives on the northside of Indianapolis and has been diagnosed about a decade ago as a teen.

Conor also appears to be a second-generation race driver, since the son of pro driver Derek Daly (who attained the pinnacle of their sport, competing in Formula One and Indy Cars for well over a decade).

Years ago, Conor’s dad was a guest speaker in the Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana (DYFI) camp I had been attending, at which he shared his kid’s narrative — and I’ve been following Conor’s career with interest ever since.

Additional Racecar Drivers with Diabetes

Another well-known PWD driver is Ryan Reed (@DriverRyanReed), who’s actually been sponsored by Lilly Diabetes at the NASCAR series (different than the open-wheel design of IndyCar racing) for a number of years, and is somebody we’ve had the joy of meeting and speaking to in the past. It seems that for the historic 100th anniversary of the Indy 500 at Lilly’s backyard, the business realized the significance of owning a stake in that race too.  

Ryan Reed and Lilly Diabetes

We are also eager to know about Dylon Wilson, who is from North Carolina and competes at the Whelan all-American Collection of NASCAR.

Dylon WilsonDylon is probably the least-known of those PWD drivers, but continues to be making the news more lately with attempts share his diabetes narrative and how he manages the challenges of rushing.

Dylon is 20 years old and was diagnosed with his 13th birthday back in 2009. Our buddies at Pump Wear had a great Q&A with him earlier in the year, and we connected with Dylon by email to hear details of his BG management and what inspires him.

He tells us he uses Medtronic’s 530G insulin pump and Enlite CGM, and bounces around between distinct BG meters while racing, and he uses Glucerna’s Carbsteady beverages and snacks on race day to maintain his BGs boosted.

“Other racers who have (diabetes) are inspiring to me personally. Nevertheless, the actual inspiration to race comes from the tons of kids that get diagnosed every single day, and have to go through college, and staff sports growing up and having to learn the disorder all at the exact same time with them thinking, ‘Why me?’

“When I’m at the car, and things are not going right, all it takes is me thinking about a little boy or girl that can’t sleep at night since the disease isn’t cooperating… I’ve been through that and I know how tough it is, and that’s what drives me,” Dylon composed in an email.

We are just thrilled to see PWDs competing in high levels of racing, alongside the a number of other sports feats we hear about.

Even though the majority of us don’t have the Sammy Hagar problem of I Can not Drive 55, it’s pretty awesome to see D-peeps such as Charlie, Conor, Ryan and Dylon hitting those 200s around the speedometer while maintaining their blood glucose in check behind the wheel.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For additional information click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a customer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content isn’t medically reviewed and doesn’t adhere to Healthline’s editorial guidelines. For more information regarding Healthline’s venture with Diabetes Mine, please click here.

Composed by on Dec  11,  2017  

Composed by Jun  19,  2017  

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