Ryan Reed grew up in Bakersfield, California, watching his dad race and fell in love with the sport. Making his name known early on, he captured the Kid’s Kart Track Championship at a very early age. By third grade, he was the JR 1 Comer & HPV Karting Track Champion. As a newly titled teenager, he won the overall Legends class in his second start-only 14 years old. He won the Rookie of the Year in the Super Late Model Division at Irwindale Speedway, three years later. But, in 2011, expecting to run a Late Model race as a development driver with Kyle Busch Motorsports, his dreams of becoming a professional NASCAR driver came to a halt.
Without any family history and little knowledge of the disease, Ryan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D). In T1D, the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the sugars and starches you eat into a simple sugar called glucose, which it uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. Ryan and his family were devastated after a local doctor gave them the horrible news that he would have to say goodbye to his career. Determined to not let this disease win, Ryan reached out to Dr. Anne Peters, a world renowned Endocrinologist. She got him into her office, and within 4 months back on the track. While training to hit the pavement again, he opened his own non-profit to help bring awareness to the disease called Ryan’s Mission.
In 2012, he ran 14 races in the ARCA Series with Venturini Motorsports. By the age of 19, he debuted in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) at Richmond International Raceway for Roush Fenway Racing (RFR). Collaborating with the American Diabetes Association, the Drive to Stop Diabetes campaign was launched. The campaign strives to educate people about living well with diabetes by encouraging the millions of Americans who have diabetes to actively manage the disease and talk about it with their doctor, their family and friends. Later in 2013, Lilly Diabetes joined forces with the Association as the entitlement sponsor of the No. 16 Ford Mustang. With a Dexcom CGM on his dashboard, he finished 9th in the series overall behind the wheel of the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes American Diabetes Association Ford Mustang. With diabetes awareness centers at 14 of the 33 tracks, Ryan was not only living his dream, but educating a culture highly affected by the diabetes. Nearly 3 in 4 NASCAR fans are personally impacted by diabetes, whether it be themselves, their family members or friends. His career peaked with a season opening win in 2015, Ryan passed Brad Keselowski for the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway. Ryan backed up his 2015 win with another impressive win at Daytona in 2017.
Since 2013, Lilly Diabetes has sponsored Ryan’s No. 16 Ford Mustang. With a Dexcom CGM on his dashboard, Ryan has had two career wins behind the wheel. While raising awareness of diabetes among NASCAR fans at racetracks, Ryan is not only living his dream of being a racecar driver, but also educating millions.