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