Charles Kimball is an American racing driver, best known for his achievements in the IndyCar Series. He spent seven seasons in the North American premier open-wheel championship with Chip Ganassi Racing, scoring one victory and six podiums between 2011 and 2017. He then spent two seasons with with Carlin and then, for 2020, joined AJ Foyt Racing.
Good results at the beginning of career
His father Gordon worked as an engineer for Indy car (Patrick, Gurney) and Formula One (McLaren, Ferrari, Benetton) teams. An interesting fact is that Kimball was accepted into Stanford University but deferred admission to pursue a racing career.
Charles Newton Kimball was born on February 20, 1985, in Chertsey, UK, while his father was working for McLaren. At the age of 9, he began racing karting. Over the next few years, he won 7 national championships. On his 16th birthday, Charlie had a Formula Ford test drive and that was the key moment to chose racing as his vocation.
In the following year, Kimball debuted in the American Formula Dodge and finished 10th at the end of the year. He also won three races in the SCCA Formula Ford that year. In 2003, Charlie moved to the US Formula Ford and again did well. Kimball won two races and had a total of seven podiums before finishing 3rd overall.
Departure to the UK
After doing fine in the UK Formula Ford Winter Series, Kimball in 2004 signed with Team JLR. Before finishing 4th in the championship he scored two race wins and a total of 11 podiums. After such a good performances, Charlie caught the eyes of many teams from other series and was ready for a new challenge.
In 2005 Kimball raced in the British Formula 3 with Carlin Motorsport. He impressed again and finished the season as a runner-up, behind his teammate Alvaro Parente, with five race wins on his account. Charlie became the first American in 13 years to win a British F3 race. The continuation of the successful stream allowed Charlie to pursue his Formula 1 dream.
Three years in Formula 3
Kimball stayed in Formula 3 racing but in 2006 he moved to Euro Series, driving for the French team Signature-Plus, but he needed some time to settle. After poor first half of the season and nine races without points, Charlie did very well in the second half. He won the race at Zandvoort, becoming the first American to win the race in the series, later finished 2nd in Barcelona and at Le Mans, and took 11th place in the standings.
In the following year, Kimball moved to Formula Renault 3.5 Series, driving for Victory Engineering team. That year was poor and the best result was 8th place scored at Monza and Nurburgring. Kimball left his team after he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes which required hospitalization.
ICharlie returned for six races in 2008 Euro Series with Prema Powerteam and also competed in one round of the A1 Grand Prix with the Team USA. Unable to find a new engagement in Europe, Charlie returned to the US and began a new chapter of his career.
Indy Lights debut
The next stop in Kimball’s journey through the world of racing was Indy Lights series. In 2009 he became a member of Team Palm Beach International Raceway and again had a pretty good season. He scored points in 8 out of 15 races, with 4th place at Watkins Glen as the highlight of the season.
The following season was a big step forward. Charlie moved up to the 4th place overall driving for AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport. He didn’t win a race but had five podium finishes. Kimball was honored with the 2010 PNC Community Leader Award as the driver who best displays community service or community outreach.
Move to IndyCar Series was a big leap
Since 2011 Kimball is the driver of Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing in IndyCar Series. The first year was one for learning and picking some experience as he scored points only twice before finishing 19th in the standings. He became the first driver in history to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 with type 1 diabetes, finishing 13th in a field of 33.
The following season was better even after he again was 19th in the final classification. Charlie secured his first career IndyCar podium, finishing 2nd in Toronto after starting from 13th position.He scored points in other five races that year.
The 2013 IndyCar racing season was the best so far for Charlie Kimball
In 2013, Kimball made history by becoming the first driver with diabetes to win an IndyCar race, the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. He also finished 2nd at Pocono Raceway, eventually taking 9th place in the Drivers’ Championship. That year Charlie also scored his first Rolex 24 At Daytona victory, driving for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates with teammates Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, and Juan Pablo Montoya.
The season of 2014 was a small step backward after Kimball dropped to the 14th position in IndyCar Series, despite picking points in 10 races and scoring one podium finish, taking the 3rd place in Detroit. Kimball also earned the "Don’t Crack Under Pressure" Award for advancing the most cumulative positions during the season.
The best race in Indianapolis was in 2015
Charlie had many strong finishes in 2015 but the highlight definitely was the 3rd place in Indianapolis 500, his best result in the legendary race so far. Kimball also was 3rd in the season-closing race at Sonoma Raceway before finishing 12th in the final standings.
In 2016, his sixth season with Chip Ganassi Racing, Kimball was 5th at the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 and recorded a total of 11 Top 10 finishes throughout the campaign before taking the 9th place in the standings. At the end of the season, Charlie received the Firestone "Drive to the Finish" Award for completing the most laps of any driver during the season – 2.066 of a possible 2.070.
Kimball stayed with the team in 2017, to drive alongside Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, and Max Chilton. He was without podiums again, finishing 17th in the final standings. His best result was the sixth place at Kohler Grand Prix at Road America. At Indianapolis 500, an engine failure stopped him after 166 laps.
A new adventure with Carlin
For the 2018 IndyCar Series season, Kimball decided to make a big change after seven seasons with Chip Ganassi Racing. Both he and Max Chilton moved to Carlin, the originally British team which is expanding its US operations from Indy Lights to IndyCar Series.
Kimball ended the season with the same result as in 2017, in the 17th place, not scoring wins or podiums. His season-best result was the fifth place at Toronto.