Diabetes Doesn't Slow Me Down!

Image courtesy of the Indy Racing League

I suppose racing is in my blood – my father was an engineer and growing up, we followed racing the way some families follow football or baseball. I first got behind the wheel after my dad gave me his old go-kart for Christmas one year. We spent lots of long evenings working in the garage putting it back together and tuning it to perfection. Racing around the neighborhood, I fell in love. I saw my first racing go-kart when Dad and I were picking up some parts for my ‘fun kart’ and I couldn’t think of anything I wanted more than to go racing. Dad and I travelled all around the country as we went testing and finally racing. I proved I had some talent behind the wheel and quickly became National Champion several times over. After lots of begging and cajoling, my parents gave me a test day in a real racing car for my 16th birthday. From then on, all I wanted to do was drive racing cars. I spent a few years racing in the US and then, after I graduated from high school, I moved to Europe to prove myself in the toughest series in the world – British Formula 3. Young drivers come from all around the world to compete in the UK and it’s long been recognized as the proving ground for young driving talent. I took the series by storm in my first year, setting track records and becoming the first American in over a decade to win an F3 race in Britain. I took Rookie of the Year honors that year before graduating to Formula 3 Euro Series where I became the first American to ever with a Euro F3 race. It seemed like my career was really on the up.

Then things started to go a little off-track – I seemed to be having trouble focusing, I was making silly mistakes and not able to concentrate. I also began to lose weight rapidly although at the time I just thought I my training program was really working well... I finally went to the doctor and in October of 2007, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. For a few brief moments in the Doctor’s office, I felt like my life was over. I was almost too afraid to ask the question, “Would I still be able to race?” For me there, is nothing else. If I couldn’t race, I wouldn’t know what to do. Finally, I bit the bullet and asked... and after what seemed like an eternity, the doctor answered, “I don’t see why not.” We then talked through the options and what it would take to make me safe behind the wheel – nothing I couldn’t overcome. For the first time in my life, I had to really focus on me – recovery, listening to my body and training hard to get back to peak physical condition. The demands made on your body in the race car are intense and I couldn’t be competitive if I wasn’t strong enough- both physically and mentally.

I started working with Dr. Anne Peters who helps me manage my diabetes care in such a way that it is never a concern when I am in the car. I wear a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor even when I race and have the digital display mounted on my steering wheel. I train harder than ever but am always careful about what I eat, checking my glucose numbers regularly and how to keep my blood sugar on track. I feel stronger than I ever have before and am so much more aware of my physical condition. Having diabetes hasn’t slowed my down one bit; in fact, it has given me an extra focus and helped me to go faster than ever!”