Chase Pelletier looks to emulate Charlie Kimball
Chase Pelletier leads the pack at Sonoma Raceway after only a single installation lap – Anne Proffit photo
Charlie Kimball has done a monstrous job of raising awareness about Type 1 diabetes and a racer’s ability to overcome this disease and be successful in any phase of motorsports. Witness his victory at Mid-Ohio and current 10th place in the IZOD IndyCar Series point standings.
Kimball found out about his disease while racing in Europe and was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to fulfill his destiny as a professional racecar driver. Thanks to medications that he can take and lifestyle choices he can make, Charlie Kimball has shown the way to other afflicted potential racers who want to advance their own careers.
One of those is 17-year-old Chase Pelletier, a Canadian karting ace, who was discovered by the Garrett Racing Driver Development program. Jonathan Donner, who heads the program placed Pelletier in a B Spec Honda Fit in the Pirelli World Challenge TCB class, with backing from the American Diabetes Association, Animas (an insulin pump manufacturer), American Honda Motor Co and Goodyear Tire & Rubber.
Pelletier initially entered the Mid-Ohio race with the No. 12 Drive4 Diabetes.com Honda Fit; he’s learning as he teaches others that they, too, can succeed even while racing with diabetes. Pelletier has run a couple of races thus far in the late stages of the World Challenge season in the plan of racing with Garrett’s driver development team in 2014. He’s placed in the Top 10 both times.
While at the Sonoma Raceway contest he had the opportunity to meet legend Mario Andretti (who advised him to keep the pedal down) and to continue his dialog with Kimball during the event, learning as he went along.
Pelletier, who has been racing in his native Canada since 10, discovered he had Type 1 diabetes just before his 11th birthday. “It was pretty overwhelming at first,” he told Diabetes Health. “But me and my family decided early on that we’re not going to get down on diabetes in general, and we’re going to try to think of positive ways to deal with it.”
Since that time he’s been racing in karts, in smaller open wheel formulas (Formula Tour 1600 Honda-powered Van Diemen) and now in Pirelli World Challenge. He also has a 1st degree black belt in karate (he’s been active in that sport since he was four!), showing that anyone is capable of living a healthy, rich and full life with Type 1 diabetes.
Pelletier was awarded the 2011 Canadian Diabetes Association Inspiration Award, but I’m sure the next award he’s looking toward is one that comes atop a Pirelli World Challenge TCB class podium. And onward from there, just like Charlie Kimball.
By Anne Proffit