2010-01-29 / Sports

Camarillo race car diver signs with Andretti team

By Jeffrey Dransfeldt jdransfeldt@theacorn.com

Charlie Kimball Charlie Kimball Camarillo native Charlie Kimball has kept his aspiration to become a professional Indy car driver in the fast lane.

The race car driver is joining Michael Andretti’s Firestone Indy Lights team this year. He’s half of a two-car team for AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport in the Indy Lights series this season.

Indy Lights is one step below the Indy Racing League.

Englishman Martin Plowman is the other driver for the team.

Kimball said he learned a lot about the Firestone Indy Lights last year as a rookie.

“I am looking forward to leveraging that experience into a run for the championship in 2010,” he said in a statement.

In 2009, Kimball ended his rookie season in 10th place, earning two top-five finishes in 15 races.

As a driver for AFS Racing/ Andretti Autosport, Kimball has a lot to live up to. The last two drivers for the team have won titles, with J.R. Hildebrand winning in 2009 and Raphael Matos earning the crown in 2008.

“We’re looking forward to working with Charlie next year,” AFS Racing owner Gary Peterson said in a statement. “AFS/ Andretti Autosport has been privileged to win the last two Firestone Indy Lights championships. We’ve seen the competition rise each year since the inaugural race in 2002, and Michael and I would very much like to set our place in the history of this series with a third consecutive title.”

Kimball has driven for Andretti before. He drove at Zandvoort in 2008 for Team USA in the A1 Grand Prix.

“He is a great guy and a driver that has a lot of potential,” Andretti said. “He was a pleasure to work with at Zandvoort back in 2008, and we’re looking forward to watching him develop next season.”

Kimball has found success after being diagnosed with Type I diabetes in October 2007.

He was profiled in November 2009 in Parade magazine as part of a group of athletes and actors with diabetes, including Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, former tennis star Billie Jean King, and actors Louis Zorich and Ben Vereen.

The Rio Mesa High School graduate has continued to race while managing his diabetes.

He has been open about the physical challenges he’s faced as a diabetic while pursuing his love of racing.

“Having diabetes doesn’t slow me down,” Kimball told the Camarillo Acorn in April. “While (diabetes) is always along for the ride, it doesn’t define who I am.”

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