Disclosure: I participated in the Future of Diabetes Summit hosted by Novo Nordisk. Novo Nordisk paid for my travel and accommodations, but I received no compensation for my participation or any content, including this, that I produce as a result of my participation. All opinions are my own. Please read my disclosure statement.
We had the opportunity to meet Charlie Kimball and ask him a few questions about his diabetes management as well as tour the track and pit. Charlie Kimball receives his sponsorship from Novo Nordisk and his new green and black Tresiba branded car was unveiled the weekend of the Phoenix Grand Prix.
The Phoenix Grand Prix takes place on a 1 mile oval and they drive 200 laps. If my memory is correct, it takes them only 18 seconds to do one lap.
In talking with Charlie, we learned that all racers have one drink bottle in the car. He is allowed a second bottle that contains concentrated orange juice. I think it has something like two or three times the carbs of regular juice.
He likes to start the race with a blood sugar between 150 and 175 mg/dL. He said that he used to start with a higher blood sugar, but over the years he’s become more confident to start the race in a lower range. With a BG of 150-175 he has room to go up or go down.
He wears a DexCom CGM which transmits to the crew in the pit as well as appearing on his dashboard. Can I get Q’s CGM to appear on my dash…or better yet on hers when she starts driving?
The person who changes his inside front tire is trained to give both insulin and glucagon through his suit into his thigh. You would be amazed at how quickly they pull into and out of the pit and I am sure that needing insulin or glucagon would slow down the pit stops considerably.
I know that when Q performs on stage the adrenaline can make her blood sugar go up. Charlie says that the physicality of driving balances the adrenaline. Their cars don’t have power steering!
When asked about his racing number he joked that he’s number 83 because it’s a great blood sugar. In truth, in 1983 his team owners had their best time at Indy in a car Charlie’s father designed.
It was interesting to meet Charlie and see how diabetes impacts him and how he and his team manage it on race day. It’s another example of how, despite diabetes, if you really want to do something you can make it work.
IndyCar racing, just like diabetes, is a numbers game.
You can follow Charlie Kimball on Twitter at both @CharlieKimball and @RaceWithInsulin and learn more at Race With Insulin. And you can see him on May 29 when he races in the 100th running of the Indy 500.