Saturday, March 28, 2009

What a Whirlwind Week Continued

So I will pick up the story of my crazy week early on Thursday morning.

I was up before my alarm because I was in the racecar testing. I got out to the track, the weather looked good, a bit windy, but still sunny and warm. I met my mechanics and engineer in person for the first time (even though I had spent hours on the phone with them :)). We then started testing and made a lot of progress with the car. My DexCom Seven Plus worked perfectly and so I kept my glucose levels within range all day. I spent an hour after we had finished running debriefing and talking through the changes we hope to get through when we test again on Sunday and Monday.

Then it was time to teach teenagers car control, weight transfer, grip and braking thresholds. This turned out to be a lot more fun than I had expected. We had 8 ‘students’ with three instructors (myself, Chris Festa and my team manager Kane Williams). We taught them in their own cars so that they would be comfortable on the road. There were all different types of cars from a Honda Fit to a Toyota Tacoma to a Ford Expedition. The Expedition was soooo big it made the car control exercise very interesting. And the braking exercise. And the emergency lane change exercise! It was actually very impressive seeing the kids learn and get comfortable with their cars. There were some guys who were ok with everything to start and there were a couple girls that very obviously weren’t comfortable to start the evening, but by the end were having a blast. By the end of the evening, though I was falling on my face! I had gotten up at 6:30 to get to the track, done 150 miles in the Indy Lights car, and then stayed until nearly 11:00 at night teaching. When I fell into bed, I was asleep straight away. On Friday I spent the whole day catching up on emails, making calls and getting hotels ready for the first race next weekend.

Here is a photo from the testing on Thursday.

The rest are here on my Flickr.

I am in the car again tomorrow for a few more miles, and then again on Monday at Sebring for the final preparation before the first race, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg next weekend.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What a Whirlwind Week! Part 1

Wow- what a week! In the course of the last 7 days, I have signed my deal with the team for the season, had breakfast in Camarillo, lunch in Burbank, dinner in Dallas, missed a flight connection, had an airline give me a room for 8 hours, arrived in south Florida, had a meeting on the beach in Miami, met my new team, drove my new car, went fast, taught teenagers about car control, did a radio interview, finalized my race suit embroidery layout, finalized where I am going to be sleeping for the next week, and watched almost an hour of television. Oh and worked out a few times.

OK- that left me breathless. Let me start from the top. I signed with Team PBIR for the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights championship. The release is here. I will be driving the #35 car. When I signed the deal, I headed to the team and track here in Palm Beach as quickly as I could. That meant I had breakfast on Sunday with my parents in Camarillo (at the same place frequented by mens doubles tennis superstars, Mike and Bob Bryan), then lunch at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. All going to plan- and then the plan got thrown into the trash. The winds had kicked up and so our plane was too heavy to take off. So they tried to pump the fuel out of the tanks so we could take off. Then there was an electrical problem and it took longer than expected to empty the tanks. Then we took off and flew….for 11 minutes. To Ontario, CA. Landed, fueled (took longer than expected because the fuel truck broke down!) and finally took off for Dallas to connect down to Florida. We landed in Dallas an hour after my flight was supposed to leave. I checked on my iPhone and my connection actually left early!?!?! So I headed for the service desk and they gave me a voucher for a hotel room. They had already booked me on the first flight out in the morning. It would get me to Florida 12 hours later than originally planned, but it wasn't the end of the world. 8 hours later, headed out of the hotel, through security and back onto an airplane headed to Florida.

So I made it to Florida…Finally. I got introduced to my team management and all the people that work in the offices of the track (Palm Beach International Raceway) down here. Spent most of Monday and Tuesday working flat out on sponsorship stuff, PR planning, getting the announcement about my signing out, logistics for the first few races and the gym. Then Wednesday I had a meeting with one of the contacts from down here. We went to his office, right on the beach in north Miami. What a view!!! Crystal clear water, sun, sand, surf- it was unreal and made it difficult to focus on the meeting at hand. :)

I just realized how long this blog is going to be so I will stop here and post the rest tomorrow. My first impressions are super positive for the year- I can’t wait to get to the first race! Plus pictures of the first test day will be up here too.

To be continued....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chaos and Race Cars!

Life is full of good intentions..... I had intended to write a full blog about testing the car tomorrow and being really excited and talking about the team, but alas short is all I have time for!

I spent a lot of today at a meeting down in Florida that was a lot of fun. It was a full 2 hour business meeting that felt like 30 minutes. The fact that the office was right on the beach didn't hurt. :)

And then I made some new adjustments to my suit layout and have to thank Sparco for doing such a good job and continuing to work with me.

Now I am super excited because I am in the race car tomorrow. It will be such a relief to get into the car knowing that it is the team I am racing for this season. We can make progress on the car and start really getting ready for the race in St. Pete next weekend. The weather should be great and we will be able to run as many miles as we want!

And then tomorrow night, the track is hosting a 'Street Smart' driving program for young drivers to improve their road driving skills. I have been asked to help as the resident 'Lights' driver which should be interesting! Trying to teach teenagers car control and weight transfer? Good luck.

Ill let you know how tomorrow goes. Here's the photo from the press release on the Indy Lights website:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Official 2009 Announcement!

Here is the Official Press Release about my 2009 Firestone Indy Lights campaign.

Charlie Kimball Signs with Team PBIR in the Firestone Indy Lights

JUPITER, FL (March 24, 2009) - - Palm Beach International Raceway today announced that Charlie Kimball will pilot the No. 35 Team PBIR Firestone Indy Lights car for the 2009 season.

"We are very excited about the partnership between Charlie and Team PBIR," stated Kane Williams, Palm Beach International Raceway Vice President of Motorsports. "He is a talented driver and will be an asset to our team both on and off the track."

The 24-year-old has forged a high-profile open-wheeled racing career including four race wins in the 2003 US Formula Ford 2000 Championship taking third-place finish in the final point standings. In 2004, Kimball made the jump to European Formula car racing where he achieved two race wins and five poles in the prestigious British Formula Ford.

For the 2005 season, the Southern California native graduated to British Formula 3 where he won five races, becoming the first American to win a British F3 race in 13 years. His results earned him a second-place finish in the point standings, only eclipsed by his much more experienced teammate. In 2006, Kimball became the first American to win a Formula 3 Euro Series race when he won at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.

Kimball then moved up to the 2007 World Series by Renault before having his season cut short in October. He was sidelined prior to the final two races with a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. However, his determination to achieve greatness in racing never halted. He worked with a team of diabetes specialists to return to optimal physical form and to the racetrack.

After achieving a better understanding of his diabetes, Kimball returned to the Formula 3 Euro Series and finished second in the opening round of the championship and his first race with diabetes in 2008. Now in 2009, Kimball moves back to racing in the US where he will be able to continue his racing dream as well as help educate people about diabetes.

In their inaugural Firestone Indy Lights season, Team PBIR brings a wealth of engineering and chassis setup experience. The combination of the driver and the team is destined to produce impressive results.

"I am really excited to drive for Team PBIR," stated Kimball. "While they are a new team, the infrastructure, engineers and team manager have been involved in the sport for long time. It is also neat to have people involved that shaped IndyCar Champions and Indy 500 winners working with me behind the scenes. All that experience will give me the tools that I need to get on the track, win, and be successful."

The No. 35 team makes their debut at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.), April 3 - 5, 2009.

"I have not raced in the U.S. since 2003 and it is nice to come home. While I haven't raced on the Streets of St. Petersburg before, I have raced on street circuits at Macau, Pau and Monaco so I have some good experience. They all have their own unique quirks, but the most important task is getting to St. Pete and having our first practice session. That will really show us where we stand and we will build from there."

For more information, please visit, or email Also, please follow Charlie on his blog at

About Charlie Kimball: Charlie Kimball is a successful young American racing driver forging a career in the highly competitive world of open wheel racing. He has spent the last few years racing in some of the most competitive racing categories in the world including British Formula 3, Formula 3 Euroseries and the World Series by Renault. The 2009 season sees Kimball returning to the United States as he challenges for the title in the Firestone Indy Lights Championship.


Announcement coming soon!

An announcement about my 2009 Firestone Indy Lights campaign will be coming sometime today or tomorrow. I am really excited about this season and all of the options that will be available to me. I am already spending some time with the team management and can't wait to get to know the mechanics and engineers more. The plan is for me to be in the car testing on Thursday, Sunday and Monday before the first race. I am sure that after three days of testing, I will be very comfortable with the car and ready to race. The first race of the season is the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, April 3-5.

I had a bit of journey to get here as my first of two flights got delayed leaving Burbank and so I missed my connection. Luckily, the airline put me up in a hotel for the night, but it meant I got to the team midday Monday rather than Sunday night. It turned out to be not that big of a problem and I really did appreciate the hotel room. I was not looking forward to seeing how comfortable the chairs in the airport terminal were to sleep on!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mountain Biking Video

Here is a quick video of me riding my Rocky Mountain bicycle in Big Sycamore Canyon. I just bolted my Flip video camera to my handlebars and away I went. I will put some footage of the high speed descent up here in a while.

Warning: Those that might get motion sick from a shaky video (i.e. The Bourne films), watch at your own risk!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Quick Update

Here's a quick update to let you know that I am still alive! I have been super busy putting the finals things together for this year as well as trying to keep up my training program. I am hoping to make an announcement about the team for this season in the next few days (or early next week). As it is within two weeks of the first race, it is highly unusual not to have the team deal nailed down yet. But I am burning the midnight oil to make it happen! Even though that has been eating up most of my time, I have managed to do some other stuff too. I went mountain biking yesterday (after failing to go earlier in the week because my car steamed it's way to a stop halfway there! More on that later....), have been organizing programs for sponsors, and actually enjoyed a couple evenings where I did as little as possible. :) I also got some really neat video footage of me mountain biking which I will edit and put up here.

So the story on my car: over the weekend, I bought a Thule bike rack to so I could take my mountain bike down to the trail head at Big Sycamore without having to borrow my dad's pickup. I had my bike all loaded up and was headed down towards the beach, the sun was out, I was going to ride for an hour and a half- life was good. And then it wasn't! The check engine light flicked on and I looked down to see my temperature gauge rapidly heading towards being pegged over in the red. Not a good sign. So I pulled over onto the shoulder, popped the hood and engulfed the road in steam! An even worse sign I thought. And then my car proceeded to drop all of it's remaining water on the roadside. :( So after a couple hours of waiting and calling a tow truck and all that entails, I left my car at the mechanic's shop for a diagnosis. I have yet to hear what happened and that makes me all the more nervous! The worst part was I never got my ride and I was really looking forward to it. That's why I went yesterday for an hour and a half- no matter who was trying to call me!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Back to School

Just a short one about a school of dolphins I saw playing in the ocean along Pacific Coast Highway. I had just been mountain biking in Sycamore Canyon in the Santa Monica mountains and was headed back to my car when I saw a lot of people in the campground watching the ocean. I rode over and saw a whole school of dolphins playing in the surf- jumping, surfing on waves, and splashing all over the place. I took some photos, but the quality on the iPhone isn't quite good enough to pick them out. I have put the photos here- the dolphins are the small smudges in the water! :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Karting Memories

I recently went out to see a friend at the Jim Hall Jr. kart track in Oxnard. I know a few of the instructors there and have been cycling with them a couple of times so it was very relaxed and welcoming. But the biggest thing that struck me about being back at the go kart track was all the memories about how I really fell in love with racing. My first immediate experience with competitive driving was in a go kart at the ‘old’ Jim Hall kart track. For 6 years, a large portion of my life was shaped by the karting circuit and schedule. Weekends were dominated by it, high school dances missed for races, Friday night football games skipped, and homework done driving down the road, all so I could get to the kart track and go racing. Most of the professional racing drivers in the open wheel ranks have some karting background. It’s not a coincidence since karting teaches a race driver (even if he doesn’t know he is going to be a race driver!) all the important tools for racing. It teaches race craft, patience, victory, defeat and most importantly it allows the budding racer to experience the passion of competition. Without my time in a go-kart, I would never have achieved the level of success I have in race cars.
I cherish every single race and every single victory because I know I have become the racer I am today because of every experience that has come before, especially my karting years.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Formula Ford Festival 2004

I was watching a YouTube video from one of my favorite diabetes blogs, SixUntilMe and thought I should search for my name and see what came up. The video below is what popped up! I have never seen the footage from the only time I have been on my head in a race car (knock on wood!). It really doesn't look as bad now as it felt at the time. Two things I remember from being upside down was first thinking, "Am I dead?" (when I saw the orange jumpsuits of the marshals running to me, I realized I was ok) and then thinking, "There is no way I'm going to race in the final with this car!" The team did an awesome job to get the car fixed and I remember rolling straight off the set-up pad onto the back of the pack for the start of the race. I couldn't hear it over the engine noise, but a round of applause for the crew followed me down the pitlane! They must have done something right because I went from 28th to 8th in the 25 lap race. My mechanic said that at one point the position and laps to go on my pit board were the same and he was changing them down one each time I went past. Enjoy the video!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Daylight Saving Time

Who else hates the fact that to get longer evenings you have to sacrifice an hour of sleep on a Sunday? It is always bitter sweet because I truly do enjoy it staying lighter later, but losing that sleep is just so hard to take! And I realize that is only one hour, but I really like my sleep. So to make myself feel better about losing that sleep, I am going to go through a few of the things I am looking forward to doing in the longer evenings.
Mountain biking- I am glad that I will be able to do a full day’s work at the desk and still get to go mountain biking in Sycamore Canyon for an hour so before it’s dark.
Cycling- Same as going mountain biking, and I can avoid the evening rush hour on the roads which makes cycling a little bit more difficult.
BBQ’ing- One of my all time favorite things to do is barbeque. The sun staying out to play longer means I have a better chance of cooking the food on the barbeque better (as I can see what I’m doing!).
Warmer weather- Daylight-Saving time is always the first sign that the year is beginning to pick up its momentum towards summer, warm weather and good times for all!
Better mornings- The shift in sun position by an hour makes it a little easier to get up in the morning. I feel more like I am ‘rising with sun’ rather than the sun being high in the sky making me feel lazy!
Save electricity- With the sun being up longer, I don’t turn on the lights until later in the evening- ergo saving energy.
I love Daylight-Saving time even if I do hate losing an hour’s sleep!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Top Music

Over the weekend, I finally found my way to my local music store and bought a few CD’s and then I went online and picked up a few singles as well. Here’s a small insight into the type of music I like to listen to. I have included the top 10 played from my iTunes. Then I’ll give you an idea of what my favorite new stuff is. I use an iPod shuffle when I run, bike and workout; an old school iPod photo in a Bose docking station when I am in my room; and my iPhone when I travel and on planes. So my musical life is usually run through iTunes. The only time I don’t have an Apple product pumping out my music is the radio and CD player in my car.

10. Kryptonite- 3 Doors Down
9. Pain- Jimmy Eat World
8. Inside Out- Eve 6
7. Monkey Wrench- Foo Fighters
6. Sarah Yellin’- 3 Doors Down
5. Open Road Song- Eve 6 (my life’s soundtrack! :) )
4. Losing My Religion- R.E.M.- Sung by Suzie McNeil on Rockstar INXS
3. Rooftops (A Liberation Transmission)- Lostprophets
2. Prelude 12/21- A.F.I
1. Lights and Sounds- Yellowcard (I love the electric violin live)

And my favorite new songs:
Burn it to the Ground- Nickelback
Never Too Late- Three Days Grace
I Don’t Care- Apocalyptica
Ghost Town- Shiny Toy Guns
Undead- Hollywood Undead (Very gritty and pretty explicit)
America’s Suitehearts- Fall Out Boy
Gives You Hell- The All-American Rejects

I am always open to new music and contrary to what my top played and favorite new songs may suggest, I do like a wide variety of music.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Favorite Race Tracks

One of my friends sent me this link of a blog about the world's best racetracks (as seen from Google Earth, no less!). I read through their criteria for an awesome racetrack and while I don't particularly agree with all their thoughts, they do make some sense. And before I read their text of what the racetracks were, I tried to guess the tracks just by their layout and surrounding countryside. I did pretty well and guessed 10 or 11 of them accurately. And then I realized why...I had driven on 10 of them and walked around the other one I got right! And although for the most part I agree with their choices, I thought I would come up with my own list of the world's best road courses (that I have driven on)- and give a reason (or two) why. And these racetracks are in their current layout (the biggest argument may be over the original Nurburgring- the whole 17.5 mile long lap- while I am only including the current Grand Prix layout).

Charlie Kimball's Top 15 Road Courses in the World

15. Le Mans Bugatti circuit, France- You can still feel the energy of the 24 Hour race.

14. Donington Park, UK- The Craner Curves and the jets landing overhead.

13. Nurburgring, Germany- Being in the Eiffel mountains and the unpredictable weather.

12. Barcelona, Spain- The never ending turn 3!

11. Sepang, Malaysia- The fast flowing corners.

10. Zandvoort, The Netherlands- Sheivlak corner.

9. Hockenheim, Germany- The hairpin for overtaking.

8. Mid-Ohio, USA- Thunder Valley

7. Pau, France- Foch (monument corner)

6. Road America, Wisconsin, USA- The Carousel corner and the straights.

5. Laguna Seca, California, USA- The Corkscrew (what other corner in the world do you aim for a tree on the horizon?)

4.Silverstone, UK- The Becketts complex in a Formula 3 car (and watching an F1 in the wet!)

3. Monte-Carlo, Monaco- The tunnel, the Grand Prix, the yachts, the palace, the history.

2. Monza, Italy- Racing through the park with the old banking still there- still gives me the shivers thinking about it.

And now for the #1.....well actually there are 2 number 1's....I couldn't choose between them!

1a. Macau, China- The mile long straight and then the mountain section- two racetrack personalities in one. The best track in the world for Formula 3 cars by far. The most challenging and technical place I have ever driven.

1b. Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium- Eau Rouge, Pouhon, the trees, the elevation, the rain, the fog, the history, the frittes and waffles.

In the future I will delve into the special moments that each of these incredible tracks hold for me.