26 May 2011

An Interview with Charlie Kimball

Charlie Kimball will start in the outside of Row 10 in Sunday's Indianapolis 500. The rookie is sponsored by Levemir and Novo Nordisk, who produce the insulin products that help Kimball combat his Type 1 diabetes. We caught up with Kimball during Thursday's media day at IMS; the following is the transcript from our time with him:

(On his dad being an engineer): It’s been a big part of it because throughout my career he’s helped teach me and give me information on what professional drivers should act like and think like, should do, should drive, you know, all of these things that when he dealt with winners, he helped pass that knowledge on to me.  So now, hopefully I bring a level of experience that’s more than what I just personally accumulated.

(On his insulin meter on his steering wheel):
I find it’s just one more sensor. One of the things I think racing drivers do really well, and maybe don’t enough credit for it, is that we process a huge amount of information quickly and process what’s important and what’s irrelevant. And, when I check my blood-sugar monitor, it’s just like I’m checking my laptop. 

(On qualifying for his first 500):
It’s a dream come true. To do it in the 100th anniversary, I’m very aware of the history and the poignancy, not just this year, but of what this event means to the whole motorsports industry, here in North America and worldwide.  With my dad’s personal history, having designed cars that won races, and Chip’s results in 1983, giving me the 83 number to run this year, all of those points make it that much more special. I hope that Sunday I get a moment, I make a moment to take a step back, to drink it all in; it’s probably going to be one of the best days of my life so far.

(On finding that moment):
I hope so. I hope I’ll take a moment and soak it in and enjoy it and see it and then focus on the job at hand, which is just another race. Indianapolis is special, because it’s one of 17; it doesn’t pay more points at the end of the race than any other race, but it’s the Indy 500, so it’s the biggest event of the year.

(On his amount of race prep):
We haven’t had a huge amount of time to work on the racecar, but our three other teammates have; they’ve spent a little more time doing race trim as we worked towards qualifying, cause we knew that it was irrelevant to work on the racecar if you weren’t going to make the race. So, we’ve looked at their information; I’ve looked at what they did setup-wise, driving-wise, and I think, hopefully, during the race, during the first stint, I’ll learn as much as they did during the first three days.

(On his plan for the race):
It’s an interesting balance between patience and aggression, especially here, because so much can happen with weather, with accidents, with pit stops, with yellows. There’s just so much going on, and Indy is different than any other race, with the length of it, the size of the race track. Weather has been a part of the month already, and it could very well be a piece of the puzzle again on Sunday. I know it looks good, but if it’s hot, that’s different than we’ve seen. So, I think patience is the right thing, but if there’s a high-percentage move available, I’m a racing driver, I’m going to take it. So, it’s a question of balance and walking that tight rope.

(On taking the green flag):
I think the most interesting challenge of racing at Indy is the sight picture into Turn 1 on that first lap. It’s going to be different than anything else the whole rest of the month because instead of nice, empty, light-colored grand stands, it’ll be a moving wall of people and color and sound and that’s something that I as a rookie will need to be more cautious of and more patient. But from there, once you’ve done it once, you learn pretty quickly. At least I hope I do. 

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