Lehigh Valley

IndyCar racer Charlie Kimball beating diabetes and opponents

EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. - The "ABC Supply 500" IndyCar Race is set for Sunday at Pocono Raceway. One of the drivers will be battling more than just his fellow competitors.

On Aug. 4, 2013, Charlie Kimball made his mark on the sport of IndyCar racing by winning the Honda Indy 200 in Ohio. The then 28-year-old had always dreamt of becoming a professional race car driver. Yet it's what happened to him nearly six years prior off-the-track that's defined his career.

"For me to be able to come out, share my story is something that I never expected when I fell in love with racing," said Kimball. 

At 22, Kimball, who complained of extreme dehydration and weight loss to doctors, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The disease comes as a result of his body producing little or no insulin.

"One of the first questions was if I'd ever get back in a race car because that was my whole world," said Kimball. "I didn't know which way my path would take me."

His path has taken him in two directions: one on the track, the other to places like Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono Bartonsville Health Center where he meets fellow diabetes survivors like Lacey Yzeik.

"You think you're going to be defeated every day sometimes but you see this and it's kind of uplifting," says Yzeik who has been living with diabetes the last 30 years.

Kimball said he's able to drive and monitor his health simultaneously by having water and orange juice tubes connected to his helmet and his glucose levels appear on his car's dashboard.  His hope is to stay the course and show future diabetics you can achieve your dreams.

"If it's driving an IndyCar at 200 miles an hour or playing little league baseball, the opportunities are available and those doors are open," says Kimball.

Setting the pace with diabetes in the racing world is a vehicle Kimball says he will gladly steer. 

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