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Interview with Charlie Kimball

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. Racinginside.com 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!