Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
November 15, 2011
KELBY KRAUSS: Thanks for joining us today, everyone, on the IZOD IndyCar Series teleconference. I'm Kelby Krauss with Chip Ganassi Racing public relations. Today we're here to make an exciting announcement about the future plans for Novo Nordisk, Chip Ganassi Racing and driver Charlie Kimball in the IZOD IndyCar Series with a multiyear sponsorship agreement. On the call today we have Camille Lee, Novo Nordisk's corporate vice president, diabetes marketing. Welcome, Camille.
CAMILLE LEE: Thank you, Kelby.
KELBY KRAUSS: And Charlie Kimball, driver of the No. 83 Novo Nordisk Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. Welcome, Charlie.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Thanks, Kelby.
THE MODERATOR: As many of you know, Chip Ganassi's mother passed away this past weekend and the funeral services were being held today in Pittsburgh. Our Chip Ganassi Racing team owner as well as president Steve Lauletta were scheduled to join us here, but they are currently attending those services. It is possible, however, if Steve Lauletta, our president, becomes available, he could join us later in the call, but if not feel free to work through me directly, those media members for team comments, and we'll handle those on a case-by-case basis.
Camille, we'll open it up with you to start the call.
CAMILLE LEE: Thanks, Kelby, and hello, everyone. Novo Nordisk is extremely excited to extend our partnership with Charlie Kimball and our sponsorship with the Chip Ganassi Racing team as the primary sponsor for the No. 83 entry car into the IndyCar IZOD Series. As many of you know, over the past three years, we have been sponsoring Charlie through the IndyCar Lights Series and last year in the first season in IndyCar, and we've had the chance to watch Charlie grow as a driver, and also very important to us at Novo Nordisk as an ambassador to the diabetes community.
We've had a very productive relationship with both Charlie and Chip Ganassi Racing this past season, and we're extremely satisfied with Charlie's performance, not only in racing but as I said earlier, most importantly, in the field in the awareness of diabetes and the work that Charlie has done in the diabetes community, increasing the awareness of the fact that you can live a very fulfilling life with diabetes, and it does not need to be a burden to achieving your dreams and what you would like to do in your life. And for this reason we are extending this partnership for another three years based on our confidence in what we know Charlie can do and what difference he is making for people with diabetes.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Thank you, Camille, for those thoughts. I'd like to open that I'm thinking of Chip, Floyd, the whole Ganassi family today. I know it's been a tough month for the racing community, and I know that my thoughts and prayers are with Chip, Floyd and his whole family.
As Camille mentioned, the performance this year on the racetrack has been developing. As a rookie in the IZOD IndyCar Series, it was important that I laid the foundation and the groundwork for a long-term career, successful career as a driver. And I think that the second half of the season this year proved that, that when we went back to the same types of tracks that I'd seen earlier in the year, I was more successful, nearly making it into the Firestone fast six at the final road course at Motegi, Japan, top 10 coming once on a permanent road course and once on a short oval, the very challenging New Hampshire. I think that showed my development as a driver, and I can't be more excited to head into 2012 with Honda power, the new DW 12 chassis, the whole new developments that the IZOD IndyCar Series has.
Since the end of the season, I've been able to make a bigger impact in my second role as a diabetes ambassador off the racetrack. I've been in hospitals, children's wards, speaking with health care providers across the country. I believe I've done something like 12 events in seven cities in about two and a half weeks. So it's been busy, but I've been able to make an impact, and I think that it's important to me to be able to give back to that community that has given me so much support since I was diagnosed four years ago. And that starts with Novo Nordisk's belief in me as a driver and as an ambassador.
Chip this year said the most important thing was for me to learn, and I've done that a lot. There were times where I felt like I was overwhelmed with the information, but by mid season I was able to take all of the experience and wisdom that Chip Ganassi Racing as a unit has and start leveraging that into better performance on and off the racetrack. So I'm really excited for the future of my racing career, and I think that the partnership with Novo Nordisk and Chip Ganassi Racing is a great one and I believe will be successful for me in the car as well as out of it.
Q. The second half of the season as you mentioned, you seemed to hit your stride. Tell me beyond your own, I guess, maturation and comfort levels growing, also a new team, working with a new engineer, et cetera, tell me about the team side of your hitting that stride. Was it also a case of with more experience, better working relationship and understanding with your engineers, mechanics, et cetera?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I think it was definitely a growth, both on my side and a slight evolution on the team side. It always takes a little while for people working together to start gelling, and when they did that, I was in a position to be able to take advantage of that because at the beginning of the year I definitely wasn't able to use all the tools I had in my arsenal. I couldn't go to Dario and ask the right questions because I was so under-experienced, so to speak.
But through the middle of the summer, more and more I was going back and forth with Scott, with Dario and even with Graham, being able to use their experience and their performances to help lift my game. And I think that it got to a point where I was able to use that and in a position to make the most of that, and that coupled with my experience and my comfort along with the team building and gelling just created a big momentum into the second half of 2011 and moving into 2012.
Q. Camille, you were talking earlier about why you're such a good fit with Charlie and what an ambassador he is for you, but why does IndyCar work for you for sponsorship?
CAMILLE LEE: It's really -- our sponsorship is really Charlie, and Charlie happens to be an IndyCar driver. But it's really Charlie that we're sponsoring. And I think the element of IndyCar driver that comes into it is that historically it's been difficult for people that have driving as a profession and have diabetes to be able to pursue that profession.
So examples of that could be in the trucking industry. And in this case, clearly Charlie is able to demonstrate that he manages his diabetes very well, and he's an ambassador for how you can manage your diabetes and fulfill your dream and in a profession such as driving, which has had barriers in the past, he's showing that you can overcome these barriers, and we shouldn't have them out there for people with diabetes. These taboos don't need to be there, and he's overcoming them.
Q. In a sport where funding is so uncertain, especially for a driver that hasn't been in the IZOD IndyCar Series for very long, is it a lot of pressure off your back not only to have and find a primary sponsor but to find a sponsor whose message you support so strongly?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: It's a great partnership. One of the things when people talk about my relationship with Novo Nordisk, I always use the word partner, because I've been using their insulin since the day I was diagnosed. That part of it, that aspect, that without their products I may not be as healthy or able to drive without insulin, as a foundation I may not be alive at the moment. So it's important for me to have that relationship, and I think that our messaging works so well because culturally them as a company and me as a driver, we're able to work so well together, and with their help I've been able to reach such a bigger audience using the IZOD IndyCar Series, if you'll pardon the pun, as a vehicle for that story.
And I think that especially for me, it's exciting to make this announcement in November. It's diabetes awareness month. Yesterday was world diabetes day. So it's really key for me to continue to share that story and hopefully break down barriers using -- having Novo Nordisk to do that.
THE MODERATOR: I just wanted to thank everybody for joining us today on the IZOD IndyCar Series teleconference. Thanks to Camille and Charlie for taking their time and sharing this special announcement, and we look forward to starting the 2012 IndyCar Series season.
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