Four years ago, Ryan Reed was told that he would not be able to drive a racecar due to being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Tonight, though, he stands in victory lane as a winner at Daytona International Speedway.
“Can’t describe the emotions and the feelings that go into the first win. I mean, so much hard work and so much sacrifice, (crew chief) Seth (Barbour), (car owner) Jack (Roush), everyone who stood behind me,” Reed commented. “Like I said, to be standing in Victory Lane, to be diagnosed four years ago with Type I diabetes, to have Lilly, the American Diabetes Association, Ford, Roush, everyone who stood behind me through it all, to get our first win at Daytona, get the first XFINITY win, just a lot of firsts there and it’s really exciting.”
Sitting in the media center following the victory, Reed reflected back to when he was diagnosed and the original confusion he experienced.
“I didn’t know what diabetes was. I didn’t understand why it was going to keep me from racing,” he reflected. “I went back and did some research on diabetes and athletes that were still competing with diabetes. Obviously I’m going to research more on the motorsports side of sports.”
As he continued his research, he came across Verizon IndyCar Series driver Charlie Kimball, reading the story of his diagnosis. That led Reed to get in touch with Kimball’s doctor Anne Peters and find out if it was possible for him to race. She told him that they were going to make it happen, beginning to work with NASCAR.
“It wasn’t an overnight process at all,” Reed commented. “She taught me a lot about diabetes. Helped me understand the disease, what goes a lot into managing the disease. This isn’t something that the doctor can be around for 24/7. You have to manage on your own. It’s awesome to have a doctor who cares that much and be involved. If I get sick at the racetrack, I can call her on the phone, she’ll talk with me for hours to do what I need to do to get better, make sure my blood sugar is what it needs to be. Overall I contribute a lot to her.
“I thank my family for keeping me positive. Those were some of the darkest days in my life thinking I’d never be back in a racecar. So they were there to support me through it all. Also working with Lilly Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association, getting back with the Drive to Stop Diabetes program, I feel like if I wouldn’t have had that diagnosis, wouldn’t have been told I couldn’t, I may not have taken it so seriously and gotten involved to the level I’ve gotten involved today.
“I try to look at the silver lining. I think we’ve accomplished a lot through a tough situation.”
Once being allowed to race, Reed began moving up to the racing ladder, running a year in ARCA for Venturini Motorsports before moving up to the XFINITY Series to drive for Jack Roush. Last year, Reed had a decent rookie season with a couple of strong moments. Though he also struggled with some poor showings. Entering this year, the young man was looking to break through with success – and give his guys the success he feels they deserve.
“I think over the radio I said, I love you, to all my guys 15 or 20 times just screaming,” Reed commented. “It was a lot of emotion. Yeah, I can’t thank those guys enough. They pulled out a few backups last year, worked some extra hours for my wrongdoing, so I appreciate all the hard work. This makes it all worth it.”