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Reed moves Miss USA hopefuls with diabetes story

January 21, 2014, Pat DeCola,

Roush Fenway Racing driver kicks career into high gear in spite of health obstacles

RELATED: Miss USA contestants model NASCAR gear

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Doctors told him he'd never be able to race again.

Ryan Reed didn’t care.

At just 17-years-old and fresh off of being named the Super Late Model Division Rookie of the Year and after becoming the youngest winner at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in his series, the California native was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, a disease that -- if left untreated -- can be fatal.

Doctors advised against getting back behind the wheel.

Again, Reed didn't care.

Nationwide Series driver Ryan Reed guides the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA contestants through an iRacing practice session.

Along with the help of a second opinion in Anne Peters, MD, of USC’s Clinical Diabetes Program in California, Reed developed some lifestyle changes that included a strict diet and exercise program, the use of devices to provide data while he's in the race car, and the reporting of all this information to his medical team in California to ensure he'd be back on track with no complications.

Fast forward to 2014 and Reed is preparing for his first full-time season in NASCAR's Nationwide Series in a No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang adorned with awareness-promoting sponsors in the American Diabetes Association's Drive to Stop Diabetes and Lilly Diabetes, and things are looking up for the now-20-year-old, despite the obstacles in his life.

Reed explaining the ins and outs of how to manuever a virtual Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Combine this with the events of Friday afternoon and it's easy to see why Reed is on cloud nine these days. The lucky son-of-a-gun was chosen to guide this year's Miss USA and Miss Teen USA contestants around the NASCAR Hall of Fame, teaching them how to do pit stops, giving a tour of the newly-revamped Glory Road 2.0 and then smoking them on a virtual Charlotte Motor Speedway in a friendly iRacing competition. (Miss North Carolina Teen USA Pammy Peters finished second in the 10-person group, for what it's worth.)

But why'd they pick him, exactly?

"Some girls will get that celebrity status and it's important to keep them humble," said Anna Boyce, VP of RPM Productions Inc., the company that handles Miss USA and Miss Teen USA contestants from Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina. "To have someone like Ryan, he can definitely help with that.

"You never know what you're going to have to overcome and you know what? Life gives you a curveball? You've got to figure out how to deal with it. Open a door. If you don't like what's behind it, learn from it and move on."

And that's exactly what Reed did.

Miss Louisiana USA managed to lead her pit crew to a respectable change in just over 16 seconds while Miss South Carolina USA gets a chuckle out of the whole thing.

His challenges have given him a much deeper perspective on life, one that has taught him to be thankful for what he has, what he's capable of doing and where he can go from here. He passed on this advice to the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA hopefuls.

"I told them to just try to stay humble no matter how much their careers take off," said Reed, whose best finish in six 2013 RFR starts was ninth, at Richmond. "Remember your roots; remember where you came from. I'm sure they will. "When I was 17 and I was racing, I thought I was on top of the world and nothing could touch me. And then when I got diagnosed with Type 1, it really humbled me and took me back. It made me realize that I wasn't infallible and that at the end of the day, it's all up to God and whatever he has in store for you. That was a big reality check for me and now I'm able to do things like this and give back to the community and it's put a much better head on my shoulders."

The inclusion of Reed to the team makes for a very unique set of teammates in Roush Fenway's Nationwide stable, as former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, who drives the team's No. 6 car, was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.

How the two will play off of and lean on each other during the course of the season as they bond as teammates on the track, for one, but perhaps more importantly as friends off of it, going through similar challenges will add an interesting dynamic.

So far, the two are hitting it off.

"Trevor's awesome; even last year he was so supportive of me and any questions I had." Reed said. "Trevor's always one of the first ones I went to for advice and I think that was reflected down in Daytona at the test. I felt like we really bonded as teammates over the offseason and I felt like we were able to really lean on each other in the test. We drafted a lot together and I felt like we were some of the fastest drafting partners out there. We could make some moves and get up front and lead the pack for a little while.

"As far as me and Trevor both having challenges with our health, I think we're both such dedicated individuals and our health and fitness is important to us regardless of the challenges we have in front of us so I'm not worried about (diabetes affecting my racing career) at all … come Saturday I promise you I'm going to compete just like every other race car driver regardless of health concerns or any challenges in front of me."

The Miss USA and Miss Teen USA hopefuls work on their pit crew skills at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.


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