Diabetes Self-Management Blog

So I’ve been doing some work for a TV show lately and last week went on a very interesting shoot. I was one of three cameras filming one of the show’s hosts as she learned to drive a stock car at the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. It was a gorgeous day and I gained a new respect for race car drivers.

I was lucky enough to get to ride in one of the cars for five laps around the track, trying desperately to get the perfect shot of the host while going 135 miles an hour. She got up to about 160 mph. I checked my blood glucose level before getting into the car, as I knew it would be a nightmare if I went low on the track. I was also unsure of how much of a workout it would be, so I ate half of a granola bar before I strapped into the passenger seat with my camera.

We came roaring out of the pit and were doing 90 miles an hour in no time. With the camera shaking and all of a sudden feeling like it weighed 60 pounds, we made the first turn and the car did what felt like a 90° angle. The sweat started to drip from my helmet and I could tell that this was going to be a rush.

My driver floored it and I held the camera as steady as possible as we passed the host’s car and then dropped behind her on the back straightaway. We typically stayed four car lengths behind her until we made our pass—and at 130 miles an hour, four car lengths feels really close. After the third lap, I’d finally adjusted to the jerkiness and speed and got the classic NASCAR profile shot before we returned to the pit.

Getting out of the car, my legs were shaking and I was sweating pretty bad. My blood glucose was normal, but it sure felt like I’d just been through a workout. That was only five laps, so I can’t imagine what doing 200 would be like.

I’m not sure if there are any diabetic racecar drivers, but with people with diabetes in the NFL, NBA, and MLB, it’s only a matter of time. However, I think that it would take some major control to keep a consistent blood glucose level during a race. Not only is it a physical workout, but there’s the heat of the track and the rush of adrenaline from the speed.

If you ever get a chance to feel the power of a stock car, do it. I’ve never been to a NASCAR race and I’m from Alabama—I know that sounds impossible—but I plan on attending one in the near future to see just how good the pros are. In the meantime, be on the lookout for race car drivers with diabetes. One more crew member in the pit with a blood glucose meter and a PowerBar. I wouldn’t mind seeing Wilford Brimley’s face on the hood of my Liberty Medical stock car, either.


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