Even before they became teammates with Roush Fenway Racing this summer, NASCAR drivers Ryan Reed and Conor Daly shared a common bond.
Both were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as teenagers. Both were told, at some point, to give up their high-speed dreams because of it.
“I think the fact we’ve both been able to follow our dreams in racing sends the message to people — especially kids — with diabetes that, ‘Hey, as long as you work with your doctors to manage your disease, you can do anything you want,’ ” said Daly, 26, who has been living with the condition since he was 14.
Daly and Reed will be racing together for the first time on Aug. 25, when they take part in the Xfinity Series event at Road America in Wisconsin. The race will be Daly’s first in NASCAR, after seven years as a pro on the IndyCar circuit.
The pair, who spoke with amNewYork in midtown west on Tuesday, are promoting a short film about Daly’s transition from Indy to stock car racing, which debuts Wednesday on YouTube. The drivers are also part of drugmaker Lilly’s “Drive Down A1C” program, which provides resources and information for people living with the disease.
That the 25-year-old Reed, who was diagnosed at 17, and Daly should serve role models seems natural. Auto racing is a grueling sport. Drivers risk high-speed accidents and injury with every turn. Temperatures inside the typical race car exceed 150 degrees, and drivers must have the physical strength to withstand the increased gravitational forces they experience on the track.
All of the above becomes more complicated when coupled with the need to manage diabetes. Both Reed and Daly race with continuous glucose monitors in their cars and have drinks on board to combat low blood sugar. Members of both drivers’ pit crews have been trained to give them insulin injections as needed.
Historically, few have attempted to race professionally with diabetes. IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball is the only other driver to go public with his diagnosis.
“It made a lot of sense for us to race for the same team and use as a platform for our story,” Reed said. “Road America is really the perfect weekend for Conor to come over and have his first experience with NASCAR, and we’re excited to finally be racing together.”