The 2014 season was the best yet for Ryan Reed: It marked his first full year representing Roush Fenway Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the second-highest level in professional racing.
From Daytona to Miami, Ryan showed the world that you can compete in this grueling sport while living well with diabetes. That’s right, Ryan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 17—but as you can tell, it didn’t get in the way of his dreams.
Nor was he content to dismiss or minimize his disease. Instead, Ryan is determined to raise awareness of diabetes, largely through his role as spokesperson for Drive to Stop DiabetesSM, a joint campaign between Lilly Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association.
So how does it feel to complete a full season behind the wheel of the No. 16 American Diabetes Association Drive to Stop Diabetes presented by Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang? What were some of the highlights? We let Ryan catch his breath after his final race in mid-November, then went to find out.
What does the Drive to Stop Diabetes movement mean to you?
I never get tired of saying it: This movement means so much to me. Nearly four years ago, local doctors told me my racing life was over because of diabetes. I love proving them wrong! Having the ability to do what I love while spreading diabetes awareness is amazing.
What was your favorite moment of the 2014 season?
On the track, definitely the 4th-place finish in Daytona, my best-ever. Off the track, I loved visiting the Diabetes Camps this summer and meeting all the kids there.
How about the most challenging moment?
On track, my first trip to Watkins Glen International was super-challenging. It’s a really tough road course! Off the track, I was learning to keep up with diet and exercise while running in a 33-race circuit. I was in a different state each weekend, and being constantly on-the-go makes managing diabetes fairly difficult.
Speaking of diabetes management, do you have any new tools that helped you maintain control on the track?
This year I started using the Dexcom G4 continuous glucose monitor (CGM). It really helps me watch my blood glucose levels during a race.
What did you learn during the 2014 season that you hope to implement in 2015?
I fine-tuned the way I work with the guys on the Roush Fenway team, so we can perform our very best during each race. We do this through constant communication about how I’m feeling, how the car feels, stuff like that. We’re a great team!
Number of NASCAR Nationwide Series races completed: The full schedule included 33 races over a period of 10 months.
Standings: Ryan finished 9th in the overall NASCAR Nationwide Series standings for 2014. Go, Ryan!
Calories burned: Not sure that racing is a real sport? During a typical three-hour NASCAR race, a driver can burn between 2,000 and 3,000 calories! All the more reason to keep blood glucose levels in check.
Help when he needs it: A member of Ryan’s pit crew is trained to administer insulin, in case his blood glucose gets too high during the race. (Likewise, they can give him glucagon if he has a low; luckily, this has never happened.) Ryan’s track suit even has a bull’s eye on the left thigh to indicate the right injection spot.
Number of 21st birthdays celebrated: One – Ryan celebrated this personal milestone on Aug. 12, 2014. Happy belated!