Meet Jack – he’s a Professional Motor Racing Driver and AMSL Diabetes Ambassador!
Jack loved motor racing when he was growing up. He loved seeing his dad race – and dreamt that one day, he could race too. Whenever he got the chance, he would make race tracks and run laps on his bike all day long. The day finally came when Jack was told he would make his debut at the Bathurst 1000, little did he know a type 1 diabetes diagnosis was also around the corner.
He was told this meant no more racing, but that wasn’t good enough for Jack. He was dedicated and persistent – and was not going to give up easily. He began researching everything he could about diabetes and soon after, he came across Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM).
To find out more, we sat down with Jack to ask him about his journey with diabetes including overcoming obstacles like being told he couldn’t compete and how he went from fingerpricking more than 25 times a day to using Dexcom CGM.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your diabetes journey?
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in September 2006. I’d just turned 20 years old and I was about to make my debut at the Bathurst 1000 – Australia’s most prestigious and famous motor racing event. It was something I had strived for my whole life and I had dreamt of this opportunity since I was a young boy.
Most people with type 1 diabetes would relate to the symptoms I had; extreme thirst, lots of toilet trips as a result of extra fluid, weight loss and loss of vision. I wasn’t aware at the time that these were the known symptoms of type 1, so I actually went to my optometrist hoping to get new glasses to improve my loss of vision! He told me then and there, it was very likely I had diabetes.
That night I was in hospital and the diagnosing doctor told me that I wouldn’t be able to continue racing cars. This was devastating news. I was upset but quickly became more determined. As a result, I really educated myself on what I had to do. A short time later, I raced in the Bathurst and then raced full time in the Supercars Championship the following year.
When I eventually went public with my type 1 diabetes diagnosis, the support was overwhelming from other people living with type 1 diabetes and the whole motor racing community. I’m one of 4 known professional racing car drivers in the world with type 1 diabetes.
Q: And how do you manage your diabetes?
I manage my diabetes using insulin pen injections. For me, it’s more comfortable racing with pens. To monitor my glucose levels, I now use Dexcom G6 CGM. Before using Dexcom, my diabetes management consisted of lots and lots of fingerpricking – up to 25 to 30 times a day! I worked out quite early on that in order to race, I needed to keep a very close eye on my diabetes and fingerpricking wasn’t giving me all the information I required in order to compete at my best. This is where Dexcom has stepped in – it plays a very important role for me, particularly on race days.
On race days, I need to be particularly prepared so I carry two drink bottles in the car with me, one is water and the other helps to replace my sugars and electrolytes. When racing, the temperatures inside the car are typically 20-25 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. This combined with the fact we need to wear 4 layers of fire proof clothing means we lose 2-3 kilograms of body fluid per hour, so hydration is key in managing my levels.
Q: And off the track? Does Dexcom assist you day-to-day as well?
Definitely! These days, I’m more of a part time racing driver. I manage my own engineering business and spend time on the family farm during busy periods such as harvest. We still have to commit ourselves as full-time drivers though, so we need to maintain physical fitness even when we’re not driving. To do so I have to train 2-3 days a week in the gym with a trainer and a further 2-3 days on cardio such as running or cycling. I particularly love competing in half marathons, sprint distance triathlons and 5-10kms Fun Runs. Whether training in the gym or checking my levels during the night, everything is just easier with my Dexcom.
Q: How did you first find out about Dexcom and what were your initial impressions about this CGM?
I first saw Dexcom CGM being used overseas by an American motor racing driver – and I thought ‘how cool is that?’ When I found out that this technology was available in Australia, I was quick to jump on. My first impressions were ‘I wish I could’ve got this sooner!’ Just the ease of being able to see where your levels are without a fingerprick and stopping what you are doing to keep your glucose levels stable. I couldn’t imagine my life without CGM now!
Q: Why did you want to use Dexcom CGM specifically?
When I first saw that racing driver from America using Dexcom I knew that’s the one I wanted to use! Further research with my diabetes educator proved to me this was the right tool for the job – the ease and functionality all suit me perfectly, so it’s been great. Also, its ability to use a phone* to check your levels is just incredible technology! The warning features are great for avoiding hypos and highs also.
Q: And what are your thoughts on the share feature?
I love the Follow App! At first, I was sharing data with my diabetes educator – now I believe it’s a great function for families with kids with type 1 diabetes. It’s so useful!
Q: Do you review your Dexcom data with your healthcare professional – if so, how has this helped you and your healthcare professional with your diabetes management?
Yes, I do. My endocrinologist and I use the Dexcom CLARITY platform to review the day-to-day management of my diabetes. My thoughts are that a HbA1c blood test can only show so much. When I’m reviewing the data on Dexcom CLARITY, you can see meal times, exercise times, insulin times etc – so this allows us to hone in specifically on certain areas to improve my diabetes. From the moment you log into Dexcom CLARITY, it shows the key data but also some of the good or bad trends and pinpoints good days and bad days. This data reviewing is so similar to what we do in the racing world. When we drive the cars, following a session on track, we review the data with an engineer. They can see/monitor all our inputs, such as brake pedal application, throttle, steering etc. This is no different to sitting down with my endocrinologist to highlight areas within my diabetes management which can be improved.
Q: And why did you choose AMSL Diabetes?
I had been using Dexcom for over 3 years and when an opportunity came up to be an ambassador for AMSL Diabetes, it was an excellent fit for me. I enjoy sharing with people how I manage my type 1 diabetes and to be an ambassador for the vital products I use is a great privilege.
Editor note: Jack wanted to share his story to illustrate that type 1 diabetes does not need to be a barrier for completing your goals, whether that be helping out at the family farm, competing in a marathon or growing up to be a professional motor racing driver. For Jack, using Dexcom CGM has given him the freedom and peace of mind to go after his goals, whether that be on or off the track.
*A list of the current compatible smart devices can be found here: https://www.dexcom.com/dexcom-international-compatibility. For more information, please call our Customer Care Team on 1300 851 056.
Always read the label and use only as directed. Read the warnings available on www.amsldiabetes.com.au/resources before purchasing. Consult your healthcare professional to see which product is right for you.
Wanting to share your personal journey? Join our AMSL Diabetes All Star Program and claim your exclusive AMSL Diabetes All Star kit today at product.amsl.com.au/all-star-program.
“Whether training in the gym or checking my levels during the night, everything is just easier with my Dexcom.”
Pete loves the fresh air and scenery that trail running offers him, and he relies on Dexcom G6 to manage his glucose levels whilst running as it gives him "immediate information and data that can inform decision-making." Pete talks about how to get started with trail running and how Dexcom G6 has assisted him when out and about.
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