Diabetes won't stop IndyCar driver, Farmington teen

Lauren Abdel-Razzaq
The Detroit News

Matthew Flynn, 14, of Farmington, left, with No. 83 car Nova Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing driver Charlie Kimball at the 2015 Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Saturday in Detroit on May 30, 2015. They both have Type 1 diabetes and Flynn was invited to tour the paddock area.

Detroit — When Matthew Flynn was 12, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. When he was 22, IndyCar Series driver Charlie Kimball was diagnosed with the same disease.

Both Flynn and Kimball have been able to manage their diabetes and continue doing what they love to do.

"Other than controlling it there's nothing you can do about it," said Flynn, an avid baseball player and racing fan. "You have to learn to take care of yourself."

During Saturday's Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix activities, Kimball invited Flynn out to be part of his team for the race. The two chatted inside his car hauler an hour before Kimball competed in the first of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit races.

Brad Zimmerman, partnership management representative, right, Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, talks with Matthew Flynn, 14, of Farmington, left, about the No. 83 car in their paddock area

"That will be the biggest challenge if it rains here," Kimball said, as ominous storm clouds gathered outside. "It will be slippery. A lot of guys will spin out."

Kimball, who drives the No. 83 car for Chip Ganassi Racing, was diagnosed in 2007. He had to quit halfway through the season, but was able to come back the next year, making him the only licensed driver in the history of IndyCar with diabetes. Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company that manufacturers the insulin he uses, sponsors him.

Flynn, who attends Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School in Farmington, has to use an insulin pump, which he carries with him at all times. He hasn't let it stop him from having an active life.

"He's a person who will just absolutely not accept this interfering with his life," said his father Mark Flynn. "All of a sudden, you feel like your child is taken away from you. But what you do is you learn to live with it."

Matthew Flynn isn't shy or ashamed. Rather, he is outspoken and shares his story with others. He's even spoken at charity events.

That's why Kimball's crew invited Flynn and his father to join them. They put Matthew's name on his car right beside where Kimball sits, so he will be joining in for the race.

The No. 83 car driven by Charlie Kimball has the name of Matthew Flynn on the side at the 2015 Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

It's the first time the team has put a "local hero" on their car. Flynn said it was "cool" to be honored in that way.

"This is my first race," said Flynn. "It's really cool to see someone who has diabetes and can do a sport at this level."


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