Thursday, December 10, 2009

2010 Announcement!



INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 10, 2009) – AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport announced today it has signed driver Charlie Kimball to the team’s 2010 Firestone Indy Lights lineup.

Kimball, a 24-year old native of Camarillo, Calif., ended his 2009 rookie campaign with a ranking of 10th in the Firestone Indy Lights standings. Kimball posted two top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 15 starts.

Kimball is the second driver signed by the team for 2010. Englishman Martin Plowman was announced as an AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport driver on Oct. 10.

An announcement regarding the sponsorship program for Kimball’s entry will be made in early 2010.

Kimball launched his single-seater career in 2002 and has raced in several international series since then, highlighted by a five-win effort in the 2005 British Formula 3 Championship. At that time, Kimball established himself as the first American to win a British Formula 3 race in 13 years. Two years later, Kimball was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and is the only driver in the history of the Indy Racing League to compete with the disorder.

Kimball made one previous start for Andretti Autosport at Zandvoort in 2008 as part of the team’s A1GP effort under the Team USA banner.



“We’re excited to bring Charlie on board with AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport for 2010. He is a great guy and a driver that has a lot of potential. He was a pleasure to work with at Zandvoort back in 2008 and we’re looking forward to watching him develop next season.”


“We’re looking forward to working with Charlie next year. AFS/Andretti Autosport has been privileged to win the last two Firestone Indy Lights championships. We’ve seen the competition rise each year since the inaugural race in 2002, and Michael and I would very much like to set our place in the history of this series with a third-consecutive title.”


“I’m very excited to be joining AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport for 2010. This is a great step for me to take and I want to thank Gary and Michael for giving me the opportunity to drive for them. I learned a lot about the Firestone Indy Lights as a rookie this year and am looking forward to leveraging that experience into a run for the championship in 2010.”

- END -

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 Interview

Here's an interview copied from Enjoy!

Interview with Charlie Kimball
dinsdag, 08 december 2009 11:13

There are a lot of fast guys, all over the world. Most of the drivers that are well known are coming from Europe, but there are also some very fast guys coming from the United States of America. Charlie Kimball is a fast American guy, living his American dream. Unfortunately, not every thing is gold in his life. Diagnosed with diabetes Charlie Kimball had to struggle to make his comeback, but during the last seasons he is fit as hell. spoke to Charlie Kimball in an exclusive interview.

Charlie KimballCharlie, you are a talented American driver and most of our visitors will know who you are. But could you please give a short introduction about yourself to the visitors that do not know you?
Well, I started in go-karts in 1993 as a way to spend time with my dad on the weekends. I then got into a Formula Ford at the age of 16 and have worked my way up through the junior formula ladder system. I spent time in Europe after graduating high school in 2003 before moving back to the US this year.

How did you get involved in racing? Have you always wanted to become a racedriver yourself? Did your parents always support you?
I got involved in racing, because I grew up watching it. My dad is a mechanical engineer and worked in both Indycars and Formula 1. When I was exposed to racing first hand, I really fell in love with it.

You have started your career, like many other drivers, in karting. Did you enjoy your period in karting and do you think karting will be an essential step in the career of a race driver?
I did really enjoy my time in karting and feel that it taught me a huge amount about racing. I still use the lessons I learned in karts to this day. While it may not be a requirement for successful racing drivers to spend time in karts, I do believe it helps a tremendous amount.

You have raced in different formula cars throughout the years. You have started with Formula Ford and also driven in Formula 3. During 2009 you drove the Indy Lights. What are the main differences between those cars? Which car, do you think, is the most exciting to drive?
The biggest difference between all the cars is the power and the weight. There are some cars that brake better than others, the World Series by Renault cars were amazing with their carbon brakes, and others were great handling cars, the Formula 3 car with a good set up was unbelievable through a fast corner. The Formula 3 car is a very good all around car and rewards a lot of different driving talents. The Indy Lights car is very exciting on an oval. Overall, I have enjoyed each car I’ve raced for their various strengths.

Kimball celebrating his victory in Formula 3Every race driver has good and bad moments during his career. Being diagnosed with diabetes is probably one of the bad moments in your career. Or, what are really the best and worst moments in your career?
Getting diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes was probably the most shocking moment in my career for sure! The nice thing about the diagnosis was that it answered a lot of questions about my performance in 2007. It also helped me get back to full health and get back in the race car. Some of the best moments in my career include winning the Formula 3 Euroseries race at Zandvoort in 2006, getting to race at Monaco in 2007 and racing at Indianapolis this year. While there have been tough moments, moments of doubt and indecision, the rewards from racing always outweighs them.

During your career you have made the step from the USA to Europe and in 2009 you came back to the USA to drive Indy Lights. What are your expectations based on your further career?
My future career expectations are to contend for the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights championship and from there move up, either into Indycar with an eye to winning the Indianapolis 500 or to Formula 1 or GP2. My experience in Europe would be extremely beneficial if there were opportunities to race in F1.

If you could change your life with another racedriver for just one day, who will be the one you are changing with?
I am extremely happy with my life as a racing driver. If I could, I would love to be Valentino Rossi for a day. I never foresee myself riding, let alone racing, motorcycles, but Rossi is an absolute maestro on the bike. It would be fun to be that good on something so different to my racing.

Kimball driving Indy LightsAlthough the racedriver is the one that really scores the results, there are always a lot of people on the background that also have a big influence on the results and career of a racedriver (sponsors, mechanics etc.). Is there a special person in your career that you would like to thank, and why is that person special to you?
I have been very lucky to have a strong family behind me throughout my career. My dad has always lent sage career advice, my mom has always supported me and my sister has been invaluable when it comes to marketing. My sponsors this year, Novo Nordisk, have been great about getting my story out there and being very supportive of me. The fact that they make the 2 types of insulin I use, is just an added bonus!

Many people think that the life of a racedriver is all fun and just a dream. But if you take a look to the ‘inside’ of racing, what is the hardest part of being a race driver?
There are a lot of difficult parts to being a racing driver, but I would say the biggest one is the struggle to find sponsorship. The cost of racing is so high and the return isn’t always easy to see. Convincing a company to become a partner in your dream is always difficult. But once you do that, you can go back to focus on racing and winning! As it is the off-season at the moment, I am focused 100% on my fitness and training which is never an enjoyable part of the job.

What would you like to say to everyone that is dreaming of a career in racing?
Racing is a very fulfilling sport filled with amazing people the world over. If it is your passion and there is no place you would rather be than at the racetrack, it is a great environment. It takes a lot of hard work to drive or be a part of team, but it is always worth the effort!

Thank you for letting me tell my story and re-use this on my blog!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Anti-NaBloPoMo

So in honor of November being National Blog Post Month, I celebrated the anti and didn't blog at all for November. And while I would like to say this was planned, it wasn't. I got busy and didn't really have anything interesting to say! I am a little less busy now, but still don't have a whole lot to say. There will be some fun and interesting things coming in the next few weeks hopefully, but until then a quick run down on what I have been doing.

I went testing at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama early in November. The track is really fun with a fair bit of elevation change, some fast corners, some blind corners and some hard braking. It is missing a good overtaking place, but that is all. I went quick and am looking forward to going back there in April for the race. Since we didn't race there this year, I am glad I got to see the track before the race weekend.

Since it's the end of the season, I have made a concerted effort to start training aggressively. I have been doing 'two-a-days' 6 days a week. While it is definitely hard work, it isn't killing me like it did a few years back. It is a good reminder to keep up the hard work during the season and then the off season isn't so miserable.

I also got a chance to go to the TCOYD event in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was a great event, lots of good media, great people and a wonderful environment to interact. I then got a chance to spend a couple days out at my aunt and uncle's place in Abiquiu. I loved it! It was really quite brisk and downright cold overnight, but the views were amazing. I got to meet my aunt's horse- talk about a beautiful animal!

Finally, I am getting ready for a ski trip with my friends. We are heading up to Salt Lake City on the 11th and staying for a week! Having never snowboarded in Utah, I am really excited. It will be a great vacation and a nice chance to 'unplug' for a week before the holidays. I haven't been boarding in a few years and am sure it will take me a while to get back in the swing of it. Should be a great time though!

Oh, and I am writing this post from my new laptop- a Mac. I have converted and for the most part, I am extremely happy with it. There have been a few headaches, most of which have been me over-thinking the problem. Things really are more user friendly on a Mac. But then any new computer would be a huge upgrade from my 4 year old Thinkpad!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The City of Brotherly Love

I am currently on a plane headed to Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. I will be attending and speaking at the ePatient Connections there tomorrow. I will be talking about how, as part of my partnership with Novo Nordisk, I use Twitter to interact with fans, other people with diabetes, and other interested parties. There was a lot of ‘chatter’ online earlier this year about the RacewithInsulin page. Getting to talk about it to healthcare professionals, influential health bloggers, and healthcare social media organizers will be a lot of fun and a great chance to talk about what I love to do. One of the big reasons that we started tweeting was that I was already using twitter, I enjoy the ability to quickly update friends, family, and fans on what I am doing/ where in the world I am/ how my race weekend is going, and I felt it might be a good way to connect with other PWD’s (people with diabetes) in another forum. I have enjoyed connecting with people all over the country that ‘follow’ me on twitter and come to autograph sessions or speaking events because they saw it on twitter. Keep an eye out for my tweets from the conference on both RacewithInsulin and my personal twitter, CharlieKimball.

I know that I haven’t been doing a great job keeping my blogging up to date and to be fair I don’t have a great excuse. I have been doing a lot of behind the scenes preparation for my 2010 race season. I am hoping to return to the Indy Lights Championship and fight for race wins and the title all year. Taking all that I learned this year and applying it from the first laps next year, I believe the results will be strong from the first green flag. I even got a chance to go testing last Thursday at Kentucky Speedway. It was good for me to turn some laps there away from a race weekend because during the race there this year, I hit the wall on the first lap avoiding another spinning car. To go back, be reasonably quick and have a productive test day exorcised those demons. Also, getting back in the car helped me get over being grumpy.

Grumpy, you say? Why yes, even I get grumpy. It is pretty standard that after the last race of the season I get very grumpy. It is a big let down at the end of the year and I definitely need to catch up on sleep, relaxing and touching base with friends. I haven’t quite accomplished all of those things yet (as you can guess by the fact that I am on a plane again after spending all of last week in Indianapolis and a busy weekend at home….but I digress). Doing a couple hundred miles at over 180 miles an hour in a racecar worked wonders on the end of year letdown though! I came home smiling and in very good spirits. I am hoping to get a couple more test days in the books before the winter sets in and I have to focus on my physical training program. I spend the winter trying to build fitness and then the season trying to maintain it. As a result, the first few days of ‘two a days’ destroys me and it is all I can do to stay awake past 7 at night! Once I get used to it, I get a big influx in energy. And all that exercise helps me manage my blood sugars a bit more.

And I will finish with a couple ‘Throttle Linkages’:

I use my iPhone to help keep the diabetes monster at bay and not slow me down.

Friday, October 16, 2009

2 Year D-Versary

Today, October 16th, is my 2 year anniversary of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I was going to write a really nice, longer blog post about the diagnosis, the doors that diabetes have opened for me, the neat people I have met in the diabetes community and that while I would give it back if I could, I am enjoying the things it has allowed me to do. I had planned to write more than that until the Dodgers game was so good. Until I found the Angels game on TV and until a fierce low snuck behind me and threw my plan off. I do find it ironically apropos that a low would affect my plan on my D-versary. Meh.

At least I get to go to Wood Ranch for dinner tonight. I am so looking forward prime rib and the Oreo cookie dessert. I may have to take photos of the dessert. I love it that much. Glad I went swimming this afternoon. And that's probably where the low came from.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Homestead Recap

It seems I have been starting all of my recent blog posts with apologies about being delinquent with keeping up to date. So I am NOT going to do that here. I am not going to say how busy I was during the race weekend with meetings, events and racing. I am not going to say how I totally unplugged on Sunday and went for an airboat ride in the Everglades before spending the afternoon by the pool. I am not going to say that my to do list on my desk has been growing faster than I can accomplish anything. I WILL say that I am going to do my best to recap my Thursday night practice, Friday's race events and then my thoughts from the Indy Car race Saturday afternoon.

Thursday night's practice was very important because the conditions were the most like the race. The temperature was still really hot even though the hour long practice started at 6PM. In the first few laps, I knew the car wasn't perfect. The team and I made lots of changes to the car and ended the session in 10th place. I was pretty sure we finished the session with a better car than what we started it with. Then it was time for a quick debrief, dinner and an early night back at the hotel. We had a nice early start on Friday with another practice at 8AM.

Morning practice went well and we did a new tire run that confirmed we had made significant progress with the car in the evening practice. My time on new tires was done completely on my own and with no tow. When I did the time, it was good enough for 7th and I was confident we could be within the top-6 in qualifying. Since most people went quicker at the end of the session running in a pack, I dropped to 12th by the end of the session.

Going into qualifying, we were pretty confident with our set up and as a result, we went reasonably aggressive. It really paid off! My warm up lap was pretty quick and my first timed lap was exactly the same. On my second lap, I had felt the car scrub the front end in turns 1 and 2. I made a small adjustment in the cockpit coming up to 3 and 4. As I got to the exit, the car moved at the rear and I had to slide up the track to catch it. As a result, my second lap was just over a tenth of a second slower. I still ended up 5th on the grid, my best oval qualifying and the team's best oval qualifying position as well. It also equaled my best qualifying from Watkins Glen.

I was pretty excited for the race as I knew that if I could convert my qualifying position to a top 6 result, I had a good shot at 8th in the championship. And for it being my first year with a new team with the added challenge of ovals thrown in, I would have been pleased with a top-10 in the points. Anything higher would just be a bonus. Then the race started and I got really busy trying to keep the car under me! The set up wasn't good from the green flag and while I worked really hard with the tools I have in the cockpit, I couldn't make it too much better. I did get in front of the set up for about 5 laps and I passed a couple of cars. Then the tires were done and, as my spotter said, I had my dancing shoes on and started doing the moonwalk! I ended up finishing the race in 13th place which was very respectable considering the car and how hard it was to drive. I still ended the year 10th in the points standings and with a huge amount of experience.

On Saturday morning, I spent a couple of hours starting the Miami-Dade ADA Step Out to Fight Diabetes. It was a lot of fun and a great event. I really enjoy the chance to meet kids with diabetes, their parents, friends, and other supporters that help them fight diabetes day in, day out. It helps to remind even me that I am not alone in this!

Then it was back to down to the track to watch the Indy Car season finale. Heading into the last race, there were three drivers who could win the championship and they had qualified 1-2-3. It was going to be a very interesting race. And believe it or not, but it stayed green the whole race! It turned into a very exciting battle between pit strategy, on track speed and the ability for the top-3 to work through traffic because by the end of the race, everyone but the championship contenders had been lapped. When the checkered fell, it was Dario Franchitti who won the race and the championship. He didn't take the lead until 4 laps to go as he had been saving fuel the whole race so he didn't have to make a final pit stop for a 'splash' of fuel! Standing in pit lane watching the race and seeing the two different strategies develop was very neat and a lot of fun to watch. As I told someone later- it was a true barnstormer. And congratulations to Dario, Chip Ganassi and all at Target Chip Ganassi Racing. With Dario's win and Scott Dixon's third in the race, they finished 1-2 in the championship. I think that's the first time in IRL history.

Here are links to two articles from the last week:
Miami Herald
Information Week

To wrap this last race recap up, I want to thank my team for all of their hard work this year. Kane Williams, Dave, Dave, Don, Mike, Chris, Trey, Tracey, Daren, Bob, Cuz, and everyone else at Palm Beach International Raceway. And my spotter, Chris Wheeler, for keeping me out of trouble on the ovals. Without your endless hours, this year would not have happened let alone be successful and fun. I also have to thank your families, wives, girlfriends, fiances and friends for being so understanding and supportive. My 2009 season was great for me in so many ways and I can't wait to get back on track in 2010. There are lots of things happening behind the scenes and I hope to be able to announce things in the coming weeks- so stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Finale Already?

I am here in Homestead, Florida and am getting ready for the last race of the season. The last race?!?! Where the heck did this year go? Last thing I knew, I was here in Homestead in February scrambling to pass my rookie test and putting together a ride for this year, plus working really hard behind the scenes to work out all the details that a new season brings. And now this season is nearly over? I want to say that my 2009 racing season has been swallowed into an abyss of airports, hotel rooms, airplanes, racetracks, rental cars and snippets of days off. But that's not exactly true. Yes, I have traveled a lot this year and yes I have stayed in some awesome hotels (and some not so awesome hotels). I have had some easy flights and some flights I was very very happy to just stumble off the plane in one piece. I have had some really nice rental cars that I enjoyed driving (usually for only a day or two) and some rental cars that were shaking themselves to pieces under me (usually for the longest stay in one place!). And I have had some incredible days off- hiking in the back country of Ventura County, driving through the Finger Lake district in upstate New York, relaxing by a pool in Orlando, Florida, jet-skiing near Homestead, mountain biking in Sycamore Canyon and road biking down the PCH.

But the best days of this year have by and far been at the racetrack. I have really enjoyed the opportunities I have had this season, the results I have worked so hard for and the chance to bring my European racing experience to bear on my first season back home since 2003. It has been so neat racing in front of friends and family across the country. The two races in California were amazing having huge support in the grandstands and I can't wait to go back next year.

Now, it's time for the last race of the year. It is my last opportunity to go out and prove that diabetes doesn't have to slow you down! I am really excited about racing here since I have tested here for a few days and I know that the car is going to be competitive from the first laps. I have practice tomorrow evening from 6-7PM and then Friday is a rich and full day with practice at 8AM, qualifying in the heat of the day at 12:15 and then the race starts at 6PM ET. The race is going to be covered live on Versus TV and streamed live on

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BIG Catch Up!

I know I haven't blogged in over 2 weeks. My Web Site Angels would not be impressed. So here goes with a major recap.

My last blog was from the Indianapolis Colts game. I wanted to write a recap of the Pittsburgh ADA Expo as well. Pittsburgh was amazing! I had only been to the city once before and there was a lot of snow on the ground when I was there. Luckily the weather cooperated a lot more this time. I was staying in a hotel right next to the convention center which is right next to the river. Out of my hotel room window, I had a pretty good view of the steel bridges and flowing river as well as the surrounding hills. But it wasn't the view that brought me to Pittsburgh. It was the local ADA's Diabetes Expo. Diabetes Expos are events that bring a lot of information about diabetes into one venue. There are booths with health screenings, product information, Divabetic makeover programs, inspirational stories, kid's zones, and workout equipment. All of it is completely free to the public and is targeted to inform, empower and help people dealing with diabetes- type 1's, type 2's, pre-diabetes, family members and friends. Alongside all of this was me standing next to a racecar signing autographs, answering questions and taking photos. I was there from 10-3 and we had almost 1100 people come by and say hello! It was really a neat event and a lot of fun. At the end of the Expo, I got a chance to walk down by the river, see the Pittsburgh Pirates stadium as well as Heinz Field (home of the Pittsburgh Steelers). Then it was off to Indianapolis and the Colts game.

The following weekend, I was in Detroit for another ADA Expo and with it being my first trip to the Motor City, I was very excited. There is so much automotive history and industry in Detroit, I felt I was in hallowed territory. Once again, I was by the showcar and took lots of photos and signed lots of autographs. I got to meet some extraordinary people with incredible stories. And with the car history in the area, there were a lot of people very familiar with Indy racing, the difference to Nascar and the race at Belle Isle. There were a few less people than in Pittsburgh, but it was still a very busy day. I was fighting through a pretty strong cold and so when I got on the plane home, I went sound asleep!

After Detroit, I spent the whole following Sunday on the couch watching football and TV. I was kept company by my dog, Kona. Although I did have to kick her out in the 4th quarter when her snoring was louder than the announcers. The rest and relaxation did wonders for helping me to beat my cold and get back to full speed. Good thing too as that Thursday, I was back on the road flying out to New York City. There was another Diabetes Expo on Saturday and I had some meetings in the City on Friday.

Before my meetings though, I had the opportunity to meet a sporting icon. I got to have breakfast with Billie Jean King. Billie has battled with type 2 diabetes and does a lot of outreach work with my sponsor (and insulin producer) Novo Nordisk, the Be the Face of Change exhibit as well as her own World Team Tennis program. As she lives in NYC, it was a great chance for us to meet each other. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Billie Jean King is one of the most down to earth, positive, easy to interact with people I have ever met. Factor that into all that she has done in her career in tennis and then her life after it, makes her larger than life!

After breakfast it was back to a meeting (not really exciting enough to write about!), lunch and an hour in the gym. It had been a while since I had done a serious weight lifting workout and my muscles were sore for the next three days. I have been training, but doing a lot of cardio workouts. Running and cycling mainly. Saturday was spent at the Javits Center in NYC at the ADA Diabetes Expo. Once again, it was really big! The biggest yet in fact. We had nearly 1200 people through the booth and I even had a chance to go up on stage and speak for a few minutes. Such great events and a whole lot of fun. There are some truly amazing people out there with diabetes!

Now it is back to office work and training. I went cycling yesterday and am going mountain biking in Sycamore Canyon this afternoon. It is a beautiful day here in Ventura County and I plan on enjoying it as much as possible!

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Game

So I was in Pittsburgh last weekend for a Diabetes EXPO with a showcar and had a great time. I plan on writing a full recap to that before this coming weekend's showcar event in Detroit! However, it also meant that since I was planning on being in Indianapolis today, I would travel to Indianapolis on Sunday morning. Also, as it was opening Sunday for the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts were playing at home, I had never been to a football game and Lucas Oil Stadium is such an imposing part of the downtown Indianapolis skyline, I decided I would go to the Colts game. And so I picked up a ticket and headed into the stadium. And WOW! It is really, really big. I could have sworn that the field was smaller than normal, but it was just that the stadium was so large! They had the retractable roof open and it was a perfect afternoon at a football game. I really enjoyed myself and it was a great introduction to a live NFL game. I can't wait to go to another. I would love to see the Chargers play in San Diego, or the Broncos at Mile High Stadium. And after having visited Pittsburgh on Saturday, I want to see the Steelers play at Heinz Field. It really was a nice break from my hectic schedule and busy lifestyle.

Here's a photo from kickoff:

And the final Scoreboard:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Busy Day, Busy Race, Great Result!

Yesterday was a very busy day for me at the Chicagoland Speedway. The Firestone Indy Lights had everything on one day (kind of like Iowa- but that one was because of rain delays). Our practice was from 9:30-10:30, qualifying starting at 1:30 and then the race at 5:15. Chicagoland is a really fun track to race the Lights cars on because while it is a 1.5 mile, D-shaped superspeedway, the banking is high and the back straight has a bend in it. This means that it is reasonably easy to run two and even three wide through the corners flat out. And side by side racing is exactly what everyone got to see! But practice first.

We started practice with the first intention being some running in clean air (not around other cars) to get used to the set up, get up to speed and learn the line. I also spent some time running the high and low grooves so I was comfortable in both places. Then, because the car was handling well on my own, it was time to find some traffic. I had to rely heavily all day on my spotter, Chris Wheeler, to get me in a pack of quick cars and then give me all the information I needed about what was going on around me. The spotter stands right up at the top of the grandstand and talks through everything he sees on the radio to me. All of the spotters are up in the same area and so they talk amongst themselves. This means that if I see something I don’t like on track, I can let the other driver know through my spotter to their spotter. But usually before I can say anything on the radio, Chris has already informed the series tech official or the other driver’s spotter! Working in traffic in practice was a lot of fun and in the hour long session, I ran more laps than I would in the race. I got out of the car a little dizzy, but with a huge grin on my face!

Then it was a mad dash to get ready for qualifying. We didn’t feel we had the right gears in the car, so the mechanics made hay and got those changed. Then it was some quick set up adjustments and on our way. My mechanics time was especially short since I would be 2nd in line for qualifying. On an oval qualifying, it is the aggregate time of two laps done completely by yourself. You get one warm up lap and then it the clock starts. At Chicagoland, we went straight out onto turn1 and put your foot down. You only lift off full throttle after you have seen the checkered flag. I was reasonably happy with my run, but knew that if we had more time to prepare, we could have done more to the car and gone a bit quicker. I ended the session in 11th which I wasn’t too worried about since it was going to be pack racing and there would be plenty of laps to move forward.

After the morning’s practice, I was really comfortable with how competitive my car was going to be in the race. I had a good jump and when the green flag flew, the pack formed! It was a little bit chaotic into Turns 1 and 2 but things settled down as we headed to 3. Then in the middle of Turns 3 and 4, Anna Beatriz, who was trying to pass me on the outside, moved down on me and pushed me onto the apron (the flat, non-banked dirty bottom of the track). I had to get out of the throttle massively and catch the car from spinning. As a result, I lost all my momentum and fell out the back of the 16 car field. I caught my breath, restarted my heart, and set about chasing down the pack. I wasn’t a long ways behind and soon I had caught the group with a massive run in the draft. I passed about 3 cars in one go and was looking to keep moving forward when I saw contact ahead of me, wing parts flying around and the yellow flag came out. We got to turn 1 and Pippa Mann spun ahead of me. I stayed low and was fine. At that point, I had moved back up to 12th or so. Then as we restarted, the #5 car of Mario Romancini blew his engine and I moved past him.

Then it was back into the pack until after about 30 laps, there was big contact in turns 3 and 4 involving Mike Potekhen, Anna Beatriz and the innocent James Hinchcliffe. The three of them made big contact and I was lucky to avoid the spinning cars and all of the debris. When we got restarted, I had a good restart, but had to lift heading into turn 1. As a result, I lost the draft of the lead pack and dropped behind the lapped Mann. I then drafted off her and ran some very fast lap times to catch back up to the front group. I then had about 20 laps to find a way to move forward through the tight group. I got a few big runs on the group of 7 cars, but got balked each way I went it seemed! When I had a run on the outside, someone else went high. When I went low, another car went before me! I still picked of Martin Plowman as his car faded and crossed the line in 7th, right next to 6th place Sebastian Saavedra. I struggled to crack into that pack and move forward, but I was extremely happy to have finished with the lead group and with a car that was as fast as the leaders. I was comfortable running up and down the track all afternoon and can’t wait to get to the last race of the season in Homestead. Homestead won’t be as chaotic a pack as Chicagoland, but it will still be a fast close race. I have a month off of racing for September now, but will be busy traveling the country to diabetes conferences with a showcar. I am looking forward to blogging about my experiences at those really neat events.

Now though, I am in a car very early on a Sunday morning headed to downtown Chicago for an in-studio interview with ABC 7. Should be fun! Then I get to spend the day in town wandering around, shopping and relaxing before flying home to California this evening.

(Here's the link to the TV interview I was on my way to when I wrote this blog! And I have tried to embed it below.... Just ignore the advertisement before the segment :) )

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Carneros 100

Today's race at Infineon Raceway went very well. The morning dawned very cool with lots of cloud cover and it was even misting at the hotel. For our warm up at 8:30, my engineer and I had made some changes to the car. My first impression was very positive and some of the other drivers struggled with the cool track temperature. There were four spinners on the out lap! We ended the session in 10th, but I knew there was more to come in the race.

I had qualified in 9th, but the #27 AFS car of Sebastien Saavedra had to change an engine before qualifying because he had crashed. When he crashed, gravel got into the belts and a new unit had to be put into the car. Because the engine wasn't out of miles, he got sent to the back. I would roll up to the green flag in 8th, on the outside of row 4. I had a decent start, fought off Plowman and tried to take advantage of moves ahead. I couldn't make any progress though and finished lap 1 in 8th. Then as we came around to finish our second lap, a full course yellow came out for the stranded car of Gustavo Yacaman. It took a few laps for them to clean up the incident and then it was back to green flag racing. I was following Mario Romancini and trying to take advantage oh him being held up by a train of cars. Then after about lap 15, I made a late braking move into turn 5, the second gear right hander after the fast left-right combination of turn 3-4. I then pulled away and up to the gearbox of my teammate Richard Phillipe. I ran most of the race in the back of the train of cars ahead and couldn't make a move stick. There were some overtaking ahead of me, but I couldn't take advantage of the chaos to move forward. Once, as I tried to overtake James Hinchcliffe ahead of me, I had to avoid Romancini trying to pass both of us. We went into turn 11, the last hairpin, three wide and all managed to come out in the exact same positions as we went into it. On lap 34 (out of 40), I was struggling with a slightly sticky throttle pedal, I lost some exit speed and Saavedra, who had worked his way through the field, made a very late pass into turn 11. I ran wide so that he wouldn't run into the side of me and had to settle for 8th. I was pleased to finish in the top 10 and with the progress my engineer and I made with the car over the weekend. The points I got for 8th put me back up to 9th in the points standings. It will be tough to catch 8th with only two races remaining, but I am sure I can solidify my 9th place in the next races.

My family and I have stopped at Harris Ranch in Coalinga alongside the 5 for dinner. It is about halfway home and they do a very tasty steak!

Top-10 and Progress

Today was practice and qualifying at Infineon Raceway. The weather was perfect with sun all day and, unlike yesterday, it didn't get too hot. The Indy Lights first practice was at 9 this morning and I was focused on learning the track, evaluating the car set up and getting ready for qualifying in the early afternoon.

Practice didn't go exactly to plan as I spun off in Turn 2 after about 6 to 8 laps. We didn't have the greatest balance or grip in the car and I was just pushing hard. I lost the back end and lightly brushed the wall. The car was fine, but we did have an electrical problem. The mechanics got the problem fixed and I was back out on track quickly. There were a couple more yellow flags that disrupted the session. My lap time only put me 13th, but I knew that I could go better for qualifying.

My engineer and I worked hard to come up with good ideas for qualifying and we must have done something right! The car was a lot better in qualifying and I could really push the limits. We made the right call on when to put new tires on the car and the yellow flags actually worked in our favor this weekend. I ended the session 9th and I am really pleased to qualify back in the top 10. Watkins Glen and Edmonton are the only other two road courses where I qualified in the top-10 this season. I finished both of those races in the top-5. I am not sure that a top-5 will be possible tomorrow as it is so hard to pass around this track, but I will be doing everything I can to make it happen.

We have a quick 30 minute warm up in the morning to make some more progress and the Carneros 100 rolls off at 11:15 PT. I have a lot of family, friends and sponsors supporting me this weekend and I can't wait to go racing tomorrow!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pre-race in Wine Country

Today was preparation day for this weekend's Carneros 100 at Infineon Raceway (what that actually means is I am racing at Infineon, used to be Sears Point, right near Sonoma, San Francisco, and wine country galore). I had a good talk with my engineer and got some ideas ready to go for the first practice. I will be spending the first few laps getting comfortable with the track and learning the line. Then we will make some changes to the car and hopefully make some forward progress before the qualifying session at 1:30. I am really excited for this weekend as I have a lot of family and friends here and the track looks like a blast to drive. I have driven it before, but it was over 6 years ago! There is a lottttt of elevation change and a good mix of high speed and slow speed corners. The weather looks to be nice, a bit warm tomorrow and really good on Sunday.

You can follow my race day updates on my Twitter or on Novo Nordisk's Twitter set up for me.

Here's the schedule:

Practice: 9-9:45
Autograph Session: 12-1
Qualifying: 1:30-2:10

Warm-up: 8:30-9
Pre-Race: 10:15
Race: 11:15 Carneros 100 (40 laps/ 100 miles)

Now my family are gathering in my hotel room to head out for a group dinner!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Memory Lanes (Interstate Lanes that is!)

This morning (very early in the morning, I might add) I drove up from home in Ventura County to Sonoma. I took the 5 freeway which runs into the south end of the Central Valley in California and hugs it's western edge up towards San Francisco. Once you get into the Valley, the scenery stays just about the same until you turn over to the Bay Area. However, I know the road from my house up to the Lerdo Hwy exit on the 5 very well. See at Lerdo Hwy is a racetrack by the name of Buttonwillow Raceway Park.

Buttonwillow is a great track, especially for testing. However, it holds an even more special place in my heart because it is the racetrack where I turned my first laps in a race car. I remember that day very clearly. I had been racing in the go kart in Santa Maria the weekend before my Monday- Tuesday test day at Buttonwillow. As a result, my dad and I drove straight over to Buttonwillow and headed out to the track early on Monday morning with the go-kart trailer in tow. It was a nice day- cool in the morning, but the sun was shining and it soon warmed up to be perfect testing weather. I helped my dad unload the go karts so he could work on them during the day and then I got focused on learning what I had to differently to drive a racecar as compared to a go-kart. I remember my first few laps being a bit of a blur but soooo much fun! I came into the pitlane the first time and told the team (and my dad who had borrowed a radio) that 'that was the most fun I have had in my life. Ever. Period!' Apparently, my smile was big enough to see well before I had taken my helmet off.

There were a few other big impressions from those two days of testing. The first was that I needed to really work out if I was going to start racing cars. By the afternoon of Tuesday, I was exhausted! I know I had been racing the go-karts all weekend, but still I remember taking a nap in the car during the second afternoon while the team made some changes to the car. I also remember that the mechanic who strapped me into the car (Big Mike) got the belts so tight that I was sore for a week. I have never had a mechanic be able to strap me into the car that tightly since! The Buttonwillow Ranch brought lunch out the track and we went there for dinner on Monday night. The food was pretty tasty. So if you are ever cruising along on the 5 near Buttonwillow and are getting hungry- stop in for a bite. Although it has been quite a few years since I have eaten there, so no guarantees! The final thing I remember from that first two day test of my racecar career is that I was fast. I ran a lap of 1:06.5 (it might have been a .4) and that was one of the quicker laps the team had seen around that configuration of Buttonwillow. That fact really helped me convince my parents that I should pursue a racing career. Well my love of racing all helped I'm sure. As I drove past Buttonwillow, the Buttonwillow Ranch, the Lerdo Hwy exit and the Buttonwillow buildings next to the freeway, I remembered that first test in a car (and the thousand of miles of testing I did there after that first test).

I spent some time at Infineon Raceway (the site for this weekend's race) today doing a TV interview and then headed out to my hotel for the weekend. Since I have a lot of guests and family coming up this weekend, we have organized a group of rooms at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country. They have been really good about shuffling room reservations around and when I arrived were extremely hospitable. The hotel is beautiful and I am really looking forward to the rest of the weekend. Not to speak of the racing! But that is for tomorrow's blog. I don't drive until Saturday so tomorrow is just a prep day.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


So this post is a short one to apologize for my delay in posting anything. I have been pretty busy and when I have had time off, I am working hard to relax and enjoy what is left of summer. Since last weekend was my only weekend off in August, I went to the beach, surfed, kayaked, swam, hung out, and then went to a big BBQ on Sunday. Sunday night I was in bed by 8:30 and asleep by 8:40! I don't think I have gone to sleep that early since I was 10.... (I don't count jet lag).

I head up to Sonoma for this weekend's Carneros 100 at the Infineon Grand Prix early on Thursday morning. I have a TV interview at the track for an evening news show in San Francisco around midday. And tonight I get to talk with the DJ's on ESPN Radio San Francisco about the weekend's race! There are a lot of my family, friends, supporters and sponsors coming this weekend. It should be a lot of fun with great weather, great racing and hopefully a great result!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mid Ohio Practice and Qualifying

Today was practice and qualifying at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course in Ohio. Practice went alright, but not perfectly. The track was really cool and slippery to start with and it took a long time for the tires to come up to temperature. When the tires did come in, I was fighting the car more than I should have been. I ended the session in about 11th or so. We had some ideas on what to do with the car before the qualifying session.

Between practice and qualifying, a rain storm came through the area and thoroughly doused the track. It would be a gamble on whether the track would dry out, stay wet, or be somewhere in between! As it turned out, it was a pretty simple call. After the first 15 minutes of qualifying, the track was dry enough for slick tires. I came in and we put the first of my two sets of new tires on the car. I was running laps on the slippery track that when I did them put me in the top 5. As the track was improving every lap, by the time I had finished each lap, I had been dropped down the order to 10th or 12th. This sequence went on until I stopped with about 10 minutes left to go and put the second set of new tires on the car. The tires were just coming in and I was getting ready to put a strong qualifying time in when a full course yellow flag came out for a couple of cars off course. Unfortunately, the timing was less than ideal as my second set of tires were going to be an improvement on my first set. As a result, I was classified in 12th. Starting on the outside of row 6 will present a challenge tomorrow, especially on the start. We have made some big changes to the car for the morning and I am sure that we will have good pace in the race. Hopefully I can make some passes and move up the order!

The weather looks good for tomorrow and it may even be a lot hotter with more humidity than we have seen all weekend. It should be a perfect day for a race!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Getting to rock and roll at Mid-Ohio

After my tough race last weekend in Kentucky, I am really looking forward to getting back onto a permanent road course. The last time I raced on a non-temporary road course it was the 4th of July and I had a solid 4th place result. Coming off a poor showing last weekend at the Kentucky Speedway, the team and I could use another top-5. Last weekend, we sat around waiting for the track to stop leaking water and then for it to dry up again after it rained on Saturday afternoon. Then we had a quick practice on a very dirty track and straight into the race. I started 11th because of entrant points. I moved high into Turn 3 on lap 1 to try to get past my teammate. As we got to the apex, Gustavo Yacaman ahead of me on the high side as well spun. When I lifted and tried to turn more to avoid him, the back of my car came around and I slid up into the wall. My day was done. It was very frustrating after standing around for a day and a half. But moving forward I am excited about Mid-Ohio.

I raced here in 2003 in the US Formula Ford 2000 championship and finished 2nd to my teammate. Having some track experience will help me get up to speed quickly and tune the car for what the track needs. Mid-Ohio is one of the stalwarts of American race tracks. It presents a lot of different challenges throughout the lap. There is a lot of elevation changes and a variety of technical corners. Here is a lap rundown:

The pit straight is pretty short and leads up to a very interesting sight picture. Turn 1 is a fast left hander with the turn in point just at a bridge over the top of the track. With the concrete bridge abutments, you can't see the exit as you approach the entry of the corner. Then it is the second longest straight on the track uphill up to the 'keyhole.' The keyhole is a long right handed corner that drops away significantly on the exit. The exit is critical though as it leads to the longest straight on the track. It is downhill most of the way with an easy flat bend in the middle. Then it is into a section of linked corners that lead almost the whole way back to the pit straight. Turn 4 is a right hander that has some camber at the apex and exits up the hill directly into turn 5. Turn 5 is a slow 180-degree left hander over the crest of the hill. The exit is difficult because it falls away downhill pretty aggressively and so traction is a problem Turn 6 is a 90-degree right hander that leads directly through a flat out kink into the entrance of 'Thunder Valley.' The entrance to Thunder Valley is a 3rd gear right hander with a big crest at the apex. Once again you can't see the exit of the corner when you commit to power. After the crest, the track falls away and the wall close in to narrow the sight picture. You go down into a valley and then climb back up before a fast left hander to exit 'Thunder Valley.' As you come out of the fast left hander, you drop over a crest into the 'Carousel'. The Carousel is a long right hander that leads you into a quick left kink back onto the pit straight. It is a busy, technical and very fun lap. I can't wait to drive it tomorrow!
(Photo from 2003 USFF2000 at Mid-Ohio- Thanks RacePix!)

Firestone Indy Lights Mid-Ohio Schedule:
Practice: 8:30-9:15
Qualifying: 11:30-12:15

Race:10:15 (40 Laps)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Rained out in Kentucky

There isn't a lot to talk about in today's blog. I was hoping to give a recap on practice, the changes we made for the second practice, the qualifying simulation, the qualifying result and then how I felt headed into the race tomorrow.

Alas, there were no cars driven on the track today. There was a huge rainstorm that rolled through the area yesterday. As a result, there was a lot of water that kept seeping up through the track today. The water comes up through small cracks and seams in the track and 'weeps' out. As a result, the weepers kept us from running all day. Since they had to cancel the qualifying session, they start all the cars by the car entrant points. Even though I am 9th in driver points, I will start 11th.

Luckily, we will get some practice time at midday before our race. Still, a disappointing day and a lot of waiting around.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Throttle Linkage

Here's a post with some links. I have been getting some good press from a few places for different things. The top-5 in Edmonton helped that as well. I am really excited to be heading to Kentucky Speedway tomorrow and I should have a race weekend preview up in the evening. In my trolling of the blogosphere, I have read lots of witty blog posts with a fanciful story weaving the links into it, but to be honest, I am not that clever! So here goes:

Indy Lights Feature played during Iowa Speedway Race
Old Formula Ford video from Brands Hatch (You can skip this one mom!)
My Gluco Story (Don't forget to vote for your favorite story)
This one just for laughs (and because Snowball has way more rhythm than I do!)

Race Coverage:(some mentions are farther into the story than the headline :))
Racer Qualifying Qualifying Race Coverage
LA Times Blurb on Race

Charlie Kimball and Diabetes Chatter:
Landing Page on my Major Partner's site
Charlie and the Twitter Factory
More Twitter twittering (Couldn't resist! Some neat thoughts from Manny Hernandez)
North o' the Border
Yahoo! Yes, please! (Not sure I understand the Finance link....Health section, yes. Finance? Not so much!)

Next time maybe I will try to create a story. Or maybe I will just the links in an attempt not to embarrass myself.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Saturday from Edmonton (Delayed)

Here's Saturday's race day report from Edmonton. On Monday :). I was just a little tired on Saturday night (read: exhausted and my brain would hardly function to brush my teeth!) and with an early flight on Sunday morning, I wasn't much better yesterday. So rather than ramble on through the fog of fatigue and not make much sense, I though I would wait until I got some rest. And I slept 13 hours last night- so I think that counts as rested.

Saturday was another beautiful day up in Edmonton. We had a warm-up at 8am and it was already well into the 70's and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect day for a race. We had made some changes to the car from qualifying and wanted to see how everything would react with full tanks in preparation for the afternoon's race. We improved the car's handling and I felt pretty confident after the session. I had been in the 3-5th place range all practice and it was only some traffic on my last two laps that moved me down to 7th. Still, either of the Team PBIR cars hadn't been lower than 7th in both practices and qualifying. We were looking strong for the race.

By race time, the day had gotten really hot. It was in the mid to high 80's and the track temperature was right at 110F! 50 laps on the rough, quick track was going to be very physical and quite a challenge for all of the drivers. I was very grateful for the drinks bottle I had in the car. It had a sports drink in it and it helped keep me hydrated (until the bumps knocked it loose from its mounting and I couldn't get any more liquid!). But back to the racing. I had a good start and went into the very open turn 1 in the middle of a three wide sandwich. I got through cleanly and came out in my starting spot of 6th. I was pretty comfortable with the pace of the cars in front of me, and was biding my time. A lot of the race was going to come down to tire wear, temperature and not making mistakes. As the race played out, my Firestones wore out just a bit earlier than 'Hinch' and Saavedra ahead of me. However, they were being held up by James Davison whose tires had gone off a lot more dramatically than anyone elses. We had pulled a big gap from the cars behind us, and when Davison locked up his front tires and slid wide, 'Hinch' and Saavedra snuck through. I then caught Davison very quickly, but couldn't find a way past until lap 38. When I did get through, my lap times dropped three quarters of a second and I pulled clear almost immediately. I had one small scare when I was trying to lap Ali Jackson. I misjudged whether he was letting me through or not and nearly ran into him. I avoided his car but that nearly put me into the tire barrier. I managed to save it, get past Jackson and, because of the gap I had pulled on Davison, keep my 5th place. That is where I would finish and it was a great result for the team as we had two cars in the top 5.

Now I am in Indianapolis for a few days of down time, meetings, training and emails before I head down to Kentucky Speedway on Thursday.

Don't forget the race from Edmonton will be on TV today. The coverage will be an hour on Versus TV at 4PM ET (1PM PT). Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Landed 6th at the Edmonton Airport

Today I had practice and qualifying for tomorrow's 50 laps Edmonton Indy Lights race. I had walked the track yesterday and was excited to see how the circuit actually drove. The first few laps were very very dusty and even at the end of practice, there was dust being cleaned off. However, I managed times throughout the session that put me in the 5th-7th place range. We made some changes to the car to improve a handling issue and were pretty happy heading into the qualifying. I ended up 7th, within a couple tenths of my teammate who has raced here in the past.

As the sun baked the track (and the Indy Cars put a lot of rubber down), I knew that the track I would encounter in qualify would be very different from the morning's practice. Right away, I could see the racing line more clearly with a lot more rubber down. We ran a set of used tires ( the ones from practice) to start with, and then we put on the first set of sticker tires. I made a big improvement on time and when I set that time, I was 5th. Then as people changed tires, I slid down to 9th. We stopped, made a change to the car, and put on our second set of new tires. There was 10 minutes to go in the session and it would be my last shot. I did a couple of quick laps that moved me up to 7th before taking a lap to cool the tires. I had another 4 laps before the checkered and did a time that moved me up to 6th. The next lap, I was pushing hard and nearly clouted the wall in Turn 1. So I backed off to give myself some clean track for my last two laps, figuring others would improve as well and I would get bumped down the order. I did my last two laps, but the best of the tires had gone. I still managed to end up 6th quickest. I am only .1 of a second behind Saavedra in fifth. The top 4 drivers had all raced at Edmonton before. With the rough track surface and the fast flowing corners, having been here before is a big advantage- especially since we only got 1 hour to learn the track. Tomorrow should be a great race. It is really hot and a very physical track. I am sure that people will make mistakes as the tires wear out at the end of the race.

Saturday July 25th:
Warm-Up 8:00-8:30AM
Race (100 Miles/ 50 laps) 2:00-3:00 PM

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Thoughts from Edmonton

Back at the hotel and very much ready for bed! I had a good day here in Edmonton. Went out to the track and saw all the mechanics. I spent a few minutes walking around and getting the feel of the paddock. Then it was time to put my race suit and nomex away and organize my closet. After lunch, my engineer and I went around the track. It is a typical airport track- wide, fast, very rough and with lots of options. The sight pictures are very unique with wide track width down to narrow track with walls in some places. There are some big bumps and significant curbs that you have to use. It was pretty dusty and I am sure that the first practice tomorrow morning will be slippery to start. With the warm weather, the rubber will get laid down pretty quickly.

Here's my schedule:
Friday July 24th
Practice- 9:30-10:30
Qualifying- 1:30-2:15

Saturday July 25th
Warm-Up- 8:00-8:30
Race- 2PM (100 miles/ 50 laps)

Thursday Morning in Edmonton

This post is loooong overdue. I should have written some sort of blog while I was home. However, I got distracted with sleeping, digging through the mountain of paperwork on my desk, my email inbox, catching up on rest, training, getting ready for this trip (3 races/ 3 weeks on the road), sleep and friends. I had a really good time at home though and it was a well deserved break. And by break I mean, I appreciated the chance to clear my desk enough to remind myself (very briefly) what color it is. I did also make sure to take some time for me. I played tennis one evening, went for a bike ride on Saturday morning (thought it would be a short hour ride- turned into 3.5 hour half century!), played beach volleyball and BBQ'ed with friends on Sunday. Heading out for this trip, I was well rested and even had gotten a new gadget to make my travel life easier.

Last Friday I ordered an Amazon Kindle. The Kindle is a really neat e-book. It is about the size of a paperback but a lot thinner and a touch lighter. The biggest difference between a regular book and the Kindle is that I can store a lot of books on the Kindle. Rather than carting around a book, a spare in my backpack and a spare spare in my suitcase, I already have three books loaded onto my Kindle. And if I get nervous about not having enough reading material, I can browse the Amazon site and download more books. The biggest impetus for me buying the unit (it's not cheap- but worth every penny so far!) was running out of books on planes. The last few plane trips, I got 10 minutes into the 3 hour flight and finished the only book I had with me. And the movie playing didn't interest me, and I wasn't tired enough to sleep without reading first and as a result I ended up bored and frustrated. Therefore I figured the Kindle would make my life on the road a little bit easier. When I get on a plane, I am totally out of contact and enjoy the chance to do work if I want, watch movies, nap or read. I really like to read and do a lot of it, so I figured it was a solid investment. Also, you can get almost all of the newest books on the Kindle and rather than 20 or 30 bucks for a hardback- most are around 10. I figure the savings alone will cover my costs within a few months at the rate I read. And I am saving the environment- Go me!

So now I am here in Edmonton for the first of three races on the trot (pardon the English-ism). We have the airport track of Edmonton this weekend, Kentucky Speedway next weekend and then the road course of Mid-Ohio after that. Edmonton is quite a ways north. Like the farthest north I have ever raced, I think. The only place that may rival it is Knockhill in Scotland. But so far the weather here is better than Scotland! (As an aside- I googled it and at 53 degrees North latitude, it is the farthest north I have ever raced- and probably ever been!) I arrived in Edmonton yesterday afternoon, the sun was high in the sky (being so far north), it was warm and I had some time to see the city. We are staying right downtown and so my dad and I walked around. And kept walking. And kept walking. We did a full lap of the downtown area, walked through the 'taste of Edmonton' festival, by some neat buildings, and then decided we would walk up to the racetrack- more commonly known as the city centre airport. I thought it was like two major streets. I may have been slightly mistaken! It was more like 4 kms or 2.75 miles (and by Google maps estimation- 50 minutes walking). Still, even at 8:30 at night, the sun was out and shining and the weather was warm. It was a pleasant night for a walk and I enjoyed the exercise. The sun finally set at about 10 or so and it got darkish. It was still a type of twilight. It is very neat up here and I am really enjoying the city. I did an interview with a local sports radio station and everyone is so friendly and enthusiastic about the race this weekend. The interviewer, Dan, mentioned that the racing gods must bribe the weather gods for good weather as everytime the Indy is in town, the weather is perfect! Here's the link to the page with an audio file of my radio interview. I have noticed that there are a lot of big 4 wheel drive trucks, very few convertibles and a lot of cars have an electric plug hanging out the front of the grill. I asked my dad why he thought the cars had plugs on them. His reply was, "well when it's -40 in the winter, you have to heat the block of the car so it will start." Yes, it is a great place to visit in the summer when the temperature is warm and beautiful. -40 degrees? I'll pass.

Now it's off to the racetrack, work with my engineer on the car set up, walk the track, and get ready for practice and qualifying tomorrow. The schedule is a bit condensed with only 1 hour of practice before qualifying. That means it is even more important to do my 'homework' with the data, track walk and 'mental laps'. More impressions of the track and maybe even the West Edmonton Mall. Apparently it is the biggest mall in North America.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Post Toronto 100 Sunday and Monday

Here is the end of my weekend wrap up blog. (Obviously I am not still on a plane.)

Since the Grand Prix of Germany from the Nurburgring was going to be shown live on Canadian TV on Sunday morning, my parents, my sister and I met in the hotel restaurant for a traditional Sunday morning breakfast. We managed to steal the TV remote and change the channel to the race. It was a great race and I was glad to see Mark Webber win his first Grand Prix. After liberally applying sunscreen, I headed back out to Exhibition Place to watch the Indy Car race. I saw a few people in the paddock I needed to talk to and then it was onto the grid. I talked to James Hinchcliffe, another Indy Lights driver, and thanked him for some really nice comments he made about my racing and managing my diabetes during one of the TV interviews. He thanked me for a pass I had given to him and then it was time for the national anthems, fireworks, a really cool flyover by CAF jets and the green flag. The Indy race was fantastic! There was some really good racing, a couple of bonehead moves and some interesting pit strategies. The Indy Car race had around 5 full course yellow flags in their 85 laps. They had 5 or 6 cars not finish due to damage. To put that in perspective, the Indy Lights race had no yellow flags in 50 laps of racing and had no retirements. That is even more impressive considering that everyone started the race on wet tires, stopped and put dry tires on when the track was still damp and everyone still stayed out of trouble. Congratulations to Dario Franchitti on a hard won race. A special mention has to go out to the two Canadian drivers- Alex Tagliani and Paul Tracy. When they were running 1-2, watching the main grandstand do the wave as they came down the front straight was very impressive. Neither of them got the result they deserved, but they did show why they should be in Indy Car. After the Indy Car race, I fell asleep and took a major nap. Then I headed to downtown Toronto to have dinner at the top of the CN Tower. The CN Tower is a stalwart of the Toronto skyline and the view from up there is seemingly endless. Dinner started in the twilight so I could see how far the city stretched, and by the end of the meal, night had fallen so I could see the Greater Toronto area fully lit! It was amazing. It really gave me some perspective on the whole weekend.

On Monday, I got the opportunity to go to Novo Nordisk’s Canadian headquarters. They had asked me to come tell my story to the employees and I was happy to oblige. I went and spoke with everyone for about an hour. It was a lot of fun and it was neat to interact with more people from Novo Nordisk. At the end of the presentation, they presented me with a beautiful painting by one of Canada's leading painters, David Harrington. It is a numbered print of the Banting Museum with the ‘Flame of Hope’ represented. Sir Frederick Banting developed the theory of utilizing insulin to control diabetes in the house that has been turned into the museum. From what I understand, he was a professor at a university in London, Ontario and the story is that he came up with the idea when he was trying to come up with a topic for a speech at the school. And, now, alongside the house stands a flame that will burn continually until a cure for diabetes is found. I was really touched by the thought and by the history involved in the painting. It was my absolute pleasure to go speak with everyone there and to have been given such a touching gift was truly above and beyond.

Now, back on a plane headed home. Back to the office for a few days, some down time, hopefully some training, and then it’s back north of the border for the race in Edmonton, Alberta.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Toronto 100 Friday and Saturday

I am back on another plane and it seems like the only time I have free from distractions enough to concentrate on blogging is on airplanes headed home from a race or to a race. It also gives me a really good opportunity to reflect on things I have done, things I have coming up and my life in general. My weekend recap is going to be split into two posts- I will get the other one up this evening or tomorrow morning. I didn't want to bore everyone with a novel.

My last post was in preparation for the race weekend in Toronto. I was on an Air Canada plane headed from Orlando and Children with Diabetes to Toronto for the race weekend. Not only was a big race weekend, it was also going to be a big weekend in terms of media coverage for my Major Partner, Novo Nordisk. Novo Nordisk’s Canadian HQ is in Toronto (well in neighboring Mississauga, but still close enough) and so they were going to have guests at the race weekend as well as pitching my story to TV and print media. With two practices and a qualifying session on Friday, a warm-up and the race on Saturday, my schedule was already going to be busy. Throw in multiple media interviews, a sponsor dinner (which I thoroughly enjoyed!), and some crazy Canadian weather and my weekend became almost as hectic as my 'home race' in Long Beach.

Practice on Friday morning went very well. I had a good feeling with the car and ended the session 8th quickest. I had traffic a bit on my fastest lap and thought there was another few tenths of a second in the car. My engineer and I had some good ideas on how to improve the car for the next practice. The biggest thing about practice on a street circuit is that the track changes lap to lap. The dirt gets cleaned up, the rubber goes down, and the line develops in big steps. The lap time changes dramatically through the weekend. In the second practice, my running was disrupted by multiple yellow flags and it was hard to get a good read on the car. However, going into qualifying, I was confident of a solid top-10 starting spot. Qualifying didn’t go quite to plan. I had a lot of confidence on my first set of new tires, but the lap time really plateaud early and I couldn’t go any quicker. After stopping for my second set of new tires, I had the same problem. I did my quick lap time early, but was unable to go any quicker. I matched my quickest time a few laps, but couldn’t make any in-roads on the fastest times. My lap time only put me 13th on the grid and I was really frustrated as I felt I had done a good job driving. I wasn’t sure what was wrong as the set up felt different but hard to pinpoint the problem areas. When we got the car back to the tent after the session, the mechanics noticed that the front roll bar had broken. After hearing that, I understood why the feeling was so hard to pinpoint. We came up with some good ideas on things to test for the morning and then it was off to the mandatory autograph session inside the exhibit hall. After the autograph session, I headed off to dinner with some Novo Nordisk people. We had dinner at a really neat restaurant at the top of the Royal Ontario Museum. When we sat down, the sun was still out and the view out over the city was great. Then as the sun set and the lights came on, the view only got better and better. I thoroughly enjoyed my conversations as well as the food and was feeling much more positive as I headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep before race day.

The weather for Saturday was more unsettled than for Friday with a chance of thunderstorms up until midday. With our race being held at 12:30, there was every chance of a wet race. The warm up was held under dry conditions, even though the sky became more and more threatening the whole session. The changes we made to the car in race prep gave me a lot of confidence and allowed me to set the 9th quickest time. Just as the checkered flag flew on our practice, the skies opened and it started to rain. It began lightly at first and then became torrential with lots of thunder and lightning. The lightning was so close to the track at one point that they had to stop the Indy Car practice session. The whole paddock and track were thoroughly soaked and so we had to make the tough choices on set up for the race. We could gamble that it would stay wet and set the car up appropriately, or we could gamble that it would dry out and run the set up we had practiced with in the morning. With the skies still dark and it consistently drizzling, we gambled for a wet set up. Starting 13th, we could afford to take a slightly bigger risk than other drivers. I knew we had the pace for the top 10, it was just going to take some luck and some solid passing moves. As it was, the series declared the start of the race wet which meant we had to start on wets. If the track dried enough to put slicks on, it would be up to the driver and team to make the call, stop and change tires. After the pace laps, we thought that if there was a crash and a full course yellow, we would stop for dry tires. However, even with the treacherous and changing conditions, everyone behaved themselves and the race stayed green. After 6 laps, the wet tires were pretty thrashed and most everyone stopped for dry tires. I came into the pits on lap 7. My pit stop wasn’t the fastest and when I came out of the pits, I was already a lap down back in 15th place. I caught and passed Pippa Mann for 14th place. My teammate, Richard Phillipe, was running behind me and I was struggling with the brakes into turn 1. With about 20 laps to go (out of the 50 scheduled), I locked the rears into turn 1 and Richard got a strong run on me down the straight. He passed me into the hairpin and that was pretty much all the excitement involved in my race. I finished in 15th, a full lap down on the leaders. When I compared my times from the pit lane, the in laps and the out laps, I was reasonably pleased with my performance. I had solid in lap times and out lap times. I lost over a minute in the pits to the fastest pit stop. My fastest lap time was in the top 7 as well. My sector times were all in the top 8 which was really encouraging for the pace of the car. After the race, I had another couple of interviews and then it was off to dinner, sans sponsors. When I finally crawled into bed, I was completely exhausted!

Novo Nordisk Canada, my crew, my car and me in front of the Toronto skyline and the CN Tower.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Great Experiences among Great Inspirations

I am now on the plane headed from Orlando Florida up to Toronto in Ontario, Canada. I had a race last weekend and have a race this weekend, but got to spend a couple of days near the ‘most magical place on earth’. I stayed at Disney’s Coronado Springs resort where the Children with Diabetes- Friend for Life conference was being held. I went for my sponsor Novo Nordisk as they had a booth there and, because I was coming, they also had a racing car and racing games in the booth. I also gave a presentation to a VERY big room of people with slides about my racing, my diabetes and how I make them fit into my life, my dream, and my passion. I also got to spend some time with friends I have at different companies and with a very cool blogger. But let me start from the beginning.

After the great result in Watkins Glen last weekend, I enjoyed some downtime in Corning (and particularly watching my mom and sister shop in the Corning Ware factory store! Note to guys who are trying to convince wives/ girlfriends/ mistresses/ mothers/ sisters/ chef friends to go to a race: Mention Corning Ware factory store and sales and you will be headed to Watkins Glen to see some racing action!). I also got to see some really neat Corning glass. I stopped into a shop called Vitrix in the Gaffer District of Corning and the whole back of the shop was a glass blowing studio. Here’s the photo of the artists hard at work.

Then Tuesday morning, it was time to hit the road again. Caught a flight to Orlando (via Philadelphia- which has much better food options than LAX- mmmmm tasty Au Bon Pain!) and arrived in the midst of a heavy thundershower. At least it was warm. And Humid. Very Warm. And Very Humid. I got to Coronado Springs and remembered why I love Disney so much. Everything is so clean, so manicured and so prepared. After checking in and dropping my bags off in my room (a solid half mile from the front desk no less!), I met up with my sponsor to run through my presentation in the room where I would be in the morning. I walked into the room and was struck by two things. Firstly, it was A BIG ROOM! With lots of chairs for lots of people! Eeek. After the panic had subsided, I turned aorund and jumped out of my skin. I was already standing there. Well a cardboard cutout of me. I was very surprised to see myself already in the room. They hadn’t told me they were going to have a cutout made (or if they did tell me, I forgot-which is probably more likely) but it looked really good. I had to take a photo with me. We ran through the presentation and made some tweaks to the photos I had. I was very happy to have all racing shots with my helmet on, but they insisted there were some where people could see my face! Then it was back to the room, some final tweaks on the slideshow, send some emails and crawl into the very very comfortable bed.

When I got up in the morning, it felt like the morning of a race. I was out of bed before my alarm, the adrenaline was running and I was ready to go. The nerves at the size of the room from the night before were gone. At 9, with a lot of the seats filled, I started my presentation. It went very well! I seemed to be pretty well received and think I managed to get my point across and tell my story. I had a lot of questions asked- both about diabetes management as well as racing in general. I then signed autographs for just over an hour and took photos with some kids. I had a lot of the parents tell me that I was an inspiration and thank me. But looking at those kids with their multicolor pumps, medical alert bracelets, bright eyes, easy smiles and the willingness to deal with their diabetes for the rest of their lives proved to me that it wasn’t as simple as calling me an inspiration. I look at those kids and am inspired- overwhelmingly so sometimes.

After the autographs and photos were done, I headed back to my room to answer some emails, get the press release distributed, tweet, and check in on some sports scores (Go Lance! And Go Dodgers!). Then I actually got some time off! I put on some shorts and went to sit by the pool. I read a bit, listened to music and properly relaxed for a few minutes. As the clocked neared the opening of the exhibit hall at 6PM, it was back to the conference center, have a Superman moment (change into my race suit in a bathroom), and be ready for the opening of the doors. I had to weave my way through the crowd to get into the hall so I knew it was going to be busy. When the doors opened, the kids rushed in screaming and already having a blast. Novo Nordisk had a show car there in their colors and that was an insta-hit. The kids all wanted autographs and photos with me. The hall was scheduled to be open for three hours and I thought that I was going to be bored by 7:30. Boy was I wrong! I never stopped moving and the first time I checked my watch (fully expecting it to be 7 o’clock), it was 8:35! Such a blast. All of those kids and their parents having fun, learning, hanging out with other people with diabetes, being kids was so cool to see. And since this time I had my race suit on when my cardboard cutout was there, I had to do the mirror image picture!

After the hall closed, a few friends of mine from DexCom and my friends from Novo Nordisk headed to grab a drink, sit down and rest our legs. After ordering my Diet Coke (on the rocks- of course), I was thrilled to see my favorite diabetes blogger. Mrs. Kerri Sparling. And yes she is cool enough to get her own sentence when introduced. Kerri is not only a super cool person but she is also a very influential diabetes blogger that does a great job representing the diabetes community. There is no one I would rather have keeping an eye out and trying to influence change on behalf of me and the rest of the diabetes community than Kerri. She is so high energy, fun, and has lived, fought and beaten the ‘betes for over 20 years. We sat and talked and laughed and all in all had a good time. She had never seen my helmet with the drinks tube before so she wanted a few photos of that. I am sure they will find their way to her blog/ flickr/ twitter one day when she stops to catch a breath. Although I don't think she ever really stops. Or slows down! She mentioned that she follows me on this blog and that makes me way nervous. All in all it was a great trip. And even better, I am on a plane on my way to another race!

I am really excited for the race in Toronto. After last weekend’s results, the team’s confidence and my confidence are at an all season high. We left Long Beach with a great race car and since Toronto is a street race like Long Beach, I am sure we will have a good starting point. I get there midday today and will walk around the track this afternoon. It was pointed out to me yesterday that my ‘tweets’ about walking around the track make people laugh because ‘you are supposed to drive around the track!’ Well yes, but having never driven there, it will give me a good first impression to walk the track, look at all the big bumps and sight pictures.

This weekend’s racing schedule (Eastern Time):

Friday July 10th:
Practice: 8:50-9:50
Practice 2: 12-12:40
Qualifying: 3:10-3:55
Autograph Session: 4:30-5:30

Saturday July 11th:
Pre-Race Practice: 8:50-9:20
Pre-Race: 12:15
Race (50 Laps) 12:30

Follow the coverage of the race weekend on my Twitter or on the Indy Lights site. Also the race will be shown live on

And one last comment about Kerri and her blog- She is cooler than she seems online because she can change a set of brake pads and rotors!