FRANCHITTI, KIMBALL CHAT WITH THE NY TIMES
In IndyCar, Racing in the Streets | By THE NEW YORK TIMES
The 2013 IndyCar Series season begins Sunday in Florida with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, one of six street courses on the 19-race schedule. Target Chip Ganassi Racing will be trying to reclaim the series title after Ryan Hunter-Reay, 32, of Andretti Autosport ended Ganassi’s five-year run of championships. The Ganassi teammates Dario Franchitti, 39, a four-time series champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, and Charlie Kimball, 28, the winner of the Tony Renna Rising Star Award last year and the first IndyCar driver with diabetes, talked recently to New York Times reporters and editors about their hobbies, IndyCar’s movie moment and the perfect street course.
Q. Other than driving cars really fast, are there other risky athletic things you like to do?
FRANCHITTI Sailing. I used to ride motorcycles until I broke my back on one. I used to fly helicopters. I loved that. Haven’t got time to do it. Drive cars on the street, different cars, old cars, new cars.
KIMBALL I grew up in Southern California, so I grew up surfing and mountain biking and snowboarding. Still try to partake in that as much as possible. Cycle. Anything outdoors. I’ve always enjoyed the water and being out on the water to disconnect from the noise and the intensity of racing and work. Q. Are you into the Winter X Games type of thing?
KIMBALL That scares me. That’s way dangerous. That’s way too dangerous. What we do is safe. But what they do, that’s kind of crazy. I like being able to ski the whole mountain and just kind of be out there and enjoy a really nice day on the mountain. And to be active, getting some semblance of a workout. I enjoy that at the end of the day.
FRANCHITTI We’re very limited in what we can do, per our contract as well. My contract has gradually gotten tighter and tighter as I’ve found ways to hurt myself over the years.
Q. Do you see a moment when you can start getting back into the view of race fans?
FRANCHITTI The one really positive thing I see this year is the introduction of the animated film from DreamWorks, “Turbo.” That to me is going to be huge.
Q. Are there characters based on you?
FRANCHITTI A couple of the drivers will see bits and pieces of other drivers. It’s quite funny. I’ve been involved with it as a consultant, so I’ve been sitting and laughing at different bits. I’ve seen about 80 percent of the film now, and it’s incredible. It’s like working with a race team, a bunch of engineers. The attention to detail these guys have is incredible.
Q. Is there a race outside your own series you wish you could race in?
FRANCHITTI 24 hours of Le Mans, definitely.
KIMBALL That’s on my list, too. I’ve got a handful; Le Mans a big one. Having done the Rolex 24 at Daytona this year, that was on my list, so to tick that box was very special. Twelve hours of Sebring, 12 hours of Bathurst, 24 hours of Nürburgring and 24 hours of Spa.
Q. Charlie, you monitor your blood sugar in your car?
KIMBALL I wear a sensor, and it’s plugged into the car’s electronics. Just like I check lap time speed, oil pressure, I check blood glucose as well. It’s on the dash. It’s kind of a system check.
Q. Do you ever have to inject yourself during race?
KIMBALL Physical side of driving an IndyCar tends to burn my blood glucose off, so I’m more worried about having a low-blood-sugar event or hypoglycemic event. I actually have two drink bottles in the car, one full with water and one full with orange juice and with a valve I can flip between water and O.J., depending if I need that glucose to keep driving. Fortunately, I’ve never needed orange juice at all. I’ve never needed to worry about diabetes in the car because of the preparation I do beforehand. The management of my nutrition, my hydration, my insulin dose with my Novo FlexPen. All that preparing means that when I get in the car, all I’ve got to think about is driving — and winning, hopefully.
Q. Is there a city whose streets you’d like to race in ?
FRANCHITTI New York.
KIMBALL How awesome would that be? Blasting down Sixth?
FRANCHITTI Central Park South. Columbus Circle. Can you imagine that?
KIMBALL Can you imagine the hills of San Francisco? That would be incredible. Because you could have those big, fast kinks, then you could blast down Lombard Street.
Q. What makes a good street course?
FRANCHITTI Technical challenge for the driver, for the team. Couple of bumps here and there. The way it flows, but also having opportunity to pass.
KIMBALL And the event. The people, the fans. The city getting behind it. It think one reason Long Beach is iconic is the whole of the L.A. region turns out every year. They’re just crazy for it. They’re mad for it.