Ryan Reed’s Passion to Win Equaled by his Passion for Diabetes Awareness
by Angela Campbell On Wed, Sep. 07, 2016
DARLINGTON, S.C. — After a top-15 finish at Darlington Raceway, Reed is only two races away from cementing his place in the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase for the Championship. He’s cautious but optimistic about his chances, saying, “We’re not in it for sure yet but mathematically, we have a cushion. I feel pretty confident on making the Chase.”
Reed began the Darlington race in the 15th position, crossing the finish line in 13th place in the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes/American Diabetes Association Ford, after he went a lap down due to a caution that came out while he was on pit road.
Reed’s No. 16 Mustang featured a throwback paint scheme reminiscent of the red, white and blue Matador No. 16 that was driven by Bobby Allison in 1975. Allison, who captured five wins at Darlington during his career, also served as an honorary crew member for the team.
NASCAR artist Sam Bass, who was diagnosed with diabetes more than 20 years ago, helped design the paint scheme and was featured on the car as part of the “Drive to Stop Diabetes” program.
“It’s really cool, number one, to be able to drive the same car that Bobby drove. It’s a pretty amazing opportunity. But then also Sam Bass helped redesign it and he’s an artist in NASCAR and he also has type 1 diabetes like myself. So it’s pretty cool to be able to tie Sam into it and have that passion. Sam and I are pretty good friends so it’s been a really cool way to definitely honor the throwback weekend and also tie it into so many things that mean something to me.”
Ryan went on to credit Sam Bass with the original idea that was embraced by the team as well as their sponsors.
The choice to honor Bobby Allison was an easy one.
“I don’t know anyone in NASCAR that’s not a Bobby Allison fan,” Reed said. “He’s such a pioneer of the sport and helped shape it into what it is today. And for me, being able to come out here and make a living driving race cars, Bobby helped make that a reality for everyone that’s in the sport today. In that regard, I have a lot of respect for Bobby.”
Reed and Allison had the opportunity to talk about Darlington when the paint scheme was unveiled. They discussed how tricky the track was and how it could easily “bite you.” Allison obviously made a lasting impression.
“What a cool guy and amazing stories he has, a lot of history there,” Reed told me.
In his third full season in the XFINITY Series, Reed has proven his talent in a race car, with year-end rankings of ninth in 2014 and 10th in 2015. What may be more impressive is his determination to persevere under less than favorable conditions.
When Reed was 17 years old, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and told he could never race again. Devastated, but unwilling to give up his dream, he went looking for answers.
He found them with the help of Dr. Anne Peters who was based in Reed’s home state of California.
“Peters was the person who gave me hope that with hard work I could continue to chase my dream of being a professional race car driver. She put me on a strict diet and exercise regiment, which has allowed me to achieve the success I have had to date.”
In 2013, he was signed as a development driver for Roush Fenway Racing in the XFINITY Series and began a partnership with the Drive to Stop Diabetes program which is presented by Lilly Diabetes in collaboration with the American Diabetes Association. Reed’s commitment as an ambassador for diabetes awareness remains unwavering.
“Diabetes is tough,” Reed admits, “no one wants diabetes but once you have it, if you accept it and change your lifestyle, listen to your doctors and take it on head first, there are some things that can come from it that are good as far as lifestyle changes and realizing it doesn’t have to dictate your life. You can go out there and live a very fulfilling life and do the things you love to do despite having it.”
The XFINITY Series travels to Richmond International Raceway this weekend for the 25th race of the regular season. Reed is currently 10th in the driver standings.