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!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Watkins Glen Follow-Up

Here's the press release covering my results from this past race weekend:

Fourth Place on the Fourth of July for Kimball

Charlie Kimball achieved his season best finish this past weekend in the Corning 100 Firestone Indy Lights Race held at Watkins Glen. Kimball, who is the only driver in the history of the IRL to race with diabetes, came back from a tough practice session to qualify the Levemir® #35 Team PBIR car fifth on the grid. He then translated that into a fourth place finish in the race. The result moves Kimball into the top-10 in the championship battle.

The race weekend at Watkins Glen in upstate New York started out in a promising manner as Charlie Kimball was looking forward to returning to road courses and to a circuit where he had tested. The practice session on Friday morning immediately got off to a poor start when an electrical problem kept the 24-year old racer in the pitlane while Team PBIR tried to get the car to fire up. After about half the session, Kimball was able to take to the track and get to work developing the car set-up. Unfortunately, after coming back into the pits to make a set-up change, the team were unable to get the car to re-fire, ending Kimball’s session after only 5 laps. He still managed the 13th quickest time (out of 20 cars).

“It is a shame to have lost all of that track time,” said Kimball afterwards. “We had some set up changes to try before we head into qualifying. Now I am going to be a bit blind.”

Working through the afternoon, the team were able to solve the car problem before qualifying so Kimball was able to take to the track with confidence to qualify. With fresh tires and determination, the young Californian driver quickly went about establishing pace while still learning the limits of the circuit. Kimball notched up quick times lap after lap and held steady in fourth position. It was only after the checkered flag fell that he was bumped down one place by championship leader JR Hilderbrand.

“What a great result in qualifying!” exclaimed the Camarillo, California native. “I know I got pipped by JR right at the end there, but 5th is still the best qualifying result of the year. From there, a podium is not out of the question.”

On Saturday morning, Kimball had the opportunity to take to the circuit for one more session to work on race set up with full fuel loads. During the practice, Kimball continued the team’s testing program and proved their pace. Kimball set the fastest time of the session, proving the #35 car deserved its qualifying position.

Later that afternoon, on the 4th of July, the Firestone Indy Lights field gridded up for their 100 mile race with Kimball on the inside of the third row. As the green flag was waved and the field accelerated towards the sweeping downhill first corner, Kimball held his position but was pinched on the exit and lost a place to Felipe Guimaraes. Kimball continued to pressure Guimaraes throughout the green flag racing and stayed close through both re-starts. Kimball was promoted back to fifth when James Hinchliffe spun into the wall.

As the final caution came out with four laps to go, everyone knew it would be a sprint to the finish. The green and white flag came out together and the field put the hammer down for one final racing lap. Third place Sebatsien Saavedra fell victim to a hard charging Guimaraes with Kimball pursuing the pair. As Saavedra dropped a couple of wheels exiting turn 6, Kimball closed and looked to the inside of turn 7, “the toe of the boot”. On the exit, Saavedra missed a shift allowing Kimball to draw alongside the AFS car as they approached turn 8, “the heel of the boot”. Saavedra attempted to block Kimball to maintain his position, eventually banging wheels with Kimball. Kimball held firm and won the position holding fourth place across the finish line.

“What a race,” said Kimball afterwards. “We misjudged the track and weather conditions a little, but still had a very fast race car. I can’t wait to get to the next race and fight for that first podium!”

With this third consecutive top ten finish, Kimball continues to lead PBIR to the front of the Firestone Indy Lights field. Kimball narrowly missed out on the fastest race lap, proving both he and the team are worthy competitors in the series just below the Indy Racing League, the pinnacle of US open wheel motorsport.

Kimball heads to Orlando, Florida to continue sharing his story as an athlete with diabetes at the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life conference before heading to Toronto for the next race in the championship July 13th.

And here are some cool links to different articles about this past weekend's race and the team's performance.; Scene at the track; and the race report.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Great Day at the Watkins Glen

Yesterday was race day at Watkins Glen. After qualifying 5th on Friday, I was really excited about the race. I knew we had a decent car and a solid chance for the best result of the year. We also had the chance to improve the car in a half hour morning practice session. After qualifying, we were reasonably happy with the car, but had some changes that we wanted to make. We had originally planned to make the changes to the car in the first practice session but because of a broken battery, we weren’t able to. There is another short anecdote about the battery story at the end of this blog.

So, we had decided on the changes we were going to be making in practice and had a good idea of what we needed to do with the car to prepare for the race. With the race being 30 laps (100 miles) long, there was going to be more fuel in the car than at any other time during the weekend. The practice went very well because the car was pretty good to start with and I was within the top 4 times the whole time. Then with a couple of laps left, I set the fastest time of the practice. That time was only .5 of a second slower than I qualified and I had a full load of fuel on board! It was very encouraging heading into the race. It also made me wonder how much better we could have qualified if we could have made the changes to the car during Friday morning’s practice.

The race began in almost ideal conditions- high 60’s, a bit breezy (gusting up to 15 miles an hour) and only a few clouds in the sky. Starting 5th, I had the inside line headed into turn 1. I had hoped to box the outside line of cars out and pick up a couple of spots. Unfortunately, I didn’t get as good a jump as the outside row and got shuffled back into 6th. As the race settled down and the pace picked up, I knew I had a good race car as I could close the gap to the cars in front of me without a lot of trouble. However, once I got into the ‘dirty’ air behind the group, I couldn’t keep the pace up to pass them. I was running a solid race in sixth, with the lead group, pulling away from the rest of the field for the first 12 laps or so. Then, headed down into turn 6 (a downhill 3rd gear right hander without a lot of run-off area), James Hinchcliffe spun out of 4th place and backed into the wall. There was a full course yellow while the safety team cleared his crashed car out of the way. On the restart, I held my position and settled back into the rhythm of the race. Then on lap 24 (out of 30) I made a small mistake and dropped behind the group of James Davison (2nd place), Sebastian Saavedra (3rd place) and Felipe Guimares (4th place) by about 10 car lengths. I put my head down and closed the gap back to them, setting a time that would be the second fastest race lap and only .1 off of my qualifying time. Then with 3 to go, a yellow flag flew for the crashed car of Wade Cunningham into the tires at turn 11. I knew that there was going to be a one lap dash for the checkered flag and any chance of 4th place (or higher) would happen on the ensuing restart. I didn’t get the best restart and watched as Guimares passed Saavedra into turn 1. I closed up as much as I could while keeping my teammate for this race, Richard Phillipe, behind me. Then on the exit of turn 6, Saavedra dropped two wheels in the dirt on the exit compromising his run into turn 7. I managed to squeeze a nose under him on the entry, forcing him to run a wide slower line on the exit. It became a drag race up the hill out of turn 7 towards turn 8 with me on the inside. Saavedra missed a shift allowing me to pull alongside, wheel to wheel. In a last desperate effort to keep me from passing him, Saavedra jerked across to the right, making contact wheel to wheel. I kept my foot in the throttle and outbraked him into turn 8. I held the car (not knowing if there was any damage from the contact) through the last 3 corners and came across the line in 4th place! It was a great result for the team as a whole because Phillipe finished in 5th (after Saavedra was handed a penalty for the blocking/ contact move). The points from the top-5 finish move me solidly into the top-10 in points and within striking distance of the top 6 or 7. With the next five racetracks either being road courses or ovals I have driven, I am confident I can continue this strong of good results. Going back to Milwaukee, I now have 3 top-10’s in a row and can’t wait for next weekend’s race in Toronto. It is a street race, a la Long Beach, and looks like just as much fun.

Speaking of Canada, after the battery problem in first practice, the team borrowed a used battery from another Indy Lights team for the qualifying session. A special thanks to them is definitely in order (except I am not sure which team’s battery we ended up using! 3 teams lent us their spares to run). And since, with it being a holiday in the US (4th of July and all) the closest place that had the specific battery we needed was in Hamilton, Ontario….Canada. The drive from Watkins Glen to Hamilton is about 4 and 1/2 hours, plus any wait time at the border. Since the team had all their personnel committed to getting the cars ready for qualifying and the race the next day, my dad jumped in the rental car equipped with a GPS and headed off! He made the trip, sat for an hour and a half at the border control, got the battery shop to wait an hour and half for him to get there, got two batteries and got back to the Glen before midnight Friday night. He then got up early to give them to the team so that the mechanics could fit the new battery for the Saturday morning practice! It was a big effort and it helped to remove one of those niggling worries in the back of my mind when the race started. So firstly, thanks to my dad for making the round trip and then thanks to the battery shop in Hamilton for staying there and having the batteries in stock.

Friday, July 3, 2009

5th on the grid for the Glen!

Today didn't start perfectly this morning. In practice this morning, the car wouldn't start. The dash was going all crazy because of the low voltage in the car. It turns out that the battery had decided to break between the trailer and the pit lane. We managed to get the car started and I did 5 laps. It was very difficult as my dash readout had gone into 'safe' mode and wasn't showing me any information. As a result, I was shifting on the rev limiter, guessing on gears and trying to relearn the track all at the same time. Plus I was worried about the car dying on me during the session. However, even with those limited laps, when I did the lap time I did, it was fifth quickest. I ended the session 13th, but was very pleased with the car. Once we had found a battery to replace the broken one, we were ready for qualifying. We had planned to make three or four changes to the car during practice to improve the set up. As a result, we were going into qualifying a bit unprepared.

Even with the problem in practice, qualifying went very well. I had a solid qualifying run and ended the session 5th. However, it wasn't quite simple and easy. It was more than 15 minutes into the 45 minute session before I could get a real lap time. There were a couple of full course yellows before anyone had done any laps. Once we got going, the car wasn't perfect but was still very competitive. After setting a time good enough for 6th, I pitted for new tires. We changed the tires and then I went back out. The track was rubbering in all the time and getting quicker and quicker. I then set a time good enough for 5th and then was slid back down to 8th. I then set a time that put me 4th in the order. I was setting up for a last lap run at a quick time when I encountered traffic. As I pulled into the pits after the checkered flag, I was told by my engineer on the radio that I had one other driver bump me to 5th. Still, after the morning I had, I am very happy with that!

As a reminder, I have a practice tomorrow at 9-9:30AM and then my race is from 1-2:30PM (30 laps/100 miles). It should be shown live online at (sometimes Firefox has some issues running the video- I've found at least.)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ready for the Glen

I am here in Watkins Glen and am soooo ready for this race weekend! I had a great weekend off last weekend which included a 2 hour mountain bike ride, some beach volleyball, time by the pool, card games, a Dodger game and I had time to go see Transformers. It was great to get some time to relax and recharge with all the traveling and racing I have been doing.

But now I am back at the race track and raring to go! I am really looking forward to this weekend because it is such a spectacular track set in some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. I tested here a few weeks back and it went very well. Now I am ready to go race at the Glen.

To get ready for tomorrow, I took a golf cart around the track with my engineer and talked about the different corners and how the car handles. We also talked race strategy, qualifying strategy and made a plan for the practice sessions. After the car had been "tech'ed" (to check it's legality) I got suited up and checked the seat belts and pedal positions. Just as I was finishing up, my parents and sister arrived. We headed out of the track and drove up to the village of Watkins Glen for dinner. Watkins Glen sits at the southern tip of Seneca Lake. My race engineer, Dave, recommended the Glen Motor Inn for dinner as it looks out over the lake from a hillside. And I am so glad we took his advice! The food was very tasty, the view was staggering and it was so great to have my family around me. I love travelling and love what I do. Being able to enjoy that with my family makes it that much better! Here is a photo from dinner:

Here is my schedule for the Corning 100 at Watkins Glen International Speedway:
Friday July 3rd:
Practice: 10:30-11:15AM
Qualifying: 1:45- 2:30PM

Saturdady July 4th (Yay Independence Day- and fireworks!):
Practice: 9-9:30AM
Corning 100 Race: 1-2:30 PM (30 Laps/ 100 Miles)

TV Schedule: Monday July 6th on Versus TV at 11PM ET (8PM PT)