WEST Fife motor racing champion Craig Brunton is used to overcoming major challenges both on and off the track.
Craig (23), from Carnock, has Type 1 diabetes and faced a tough battle to even prove he was fit and healthy enough to take part in racing.
However, having had to pass a series of stringent medicals to be allowed to race in the first place, Craig is now making up for lost time.
This season, in just his third year in the sport, he has wrapped up the Scottish Formula Ford Championship with the final meet still to be held.
Craig is a driver instructor at Knockhill, where his dad runs the Ferrari Driving Experience, and has been based there since 1997.
As a youngster, Craig grew up in and around motor sport and was keen to start a racing career but his medical condition held up those ambitions.
He said, “I was diagnosed at 14 after I had been feeling tired all the time and drinking lots of fluids. Type 1 is passed through your genes and my grandad had it.
“Type 2 is the one that can come from obesity and so when people hear you have diabetes they can make comments like, ‘You’ve been eating too many cakes when you were a kid’.”
Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition where the body cannot control the amount of glucose in the blood because of a lack of the hormone, insulin, which should be produced naturally. Insulin helps cells absorb glucose where it is converted into energy. A shortage of insulin therefore causes glucose to build up in the blood.
“This means that you are sick all the time because the body’s trying to get rid of it,” said Craig.
As a result of his condition, Craig has to inject himself with insulin four times a day.
The motorsport authorities naturally have strict procedures in place to make sure competitors have no health problems which could lead to difficulties in the heat of the race.
This meant Craig having to prove his fitness to compete by seeing medical experts around the country before finally being given the go-ahead.
However, Craig has tried to turn his condition into a positive by using it as a basis of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“You have to look after yourself,” he explained. “I don’t go out boozing at the weekend and have a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
“It’s really just what they tell everybody to try to do. I’ve also focused on motor sport which can take over your life anyway as people will tell you.”
Craig also has hopes his success can act as an inspiration for other young people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
He carries the logo of the Diabetes UK charity on his race car and through his work at Knockhill has met others who have the condition.
“It’s important for young people to know they can go on and achieve the things they want,” said Craig.
His friends and family are rightly delighted and proud with Craig’s own success against the odds and he said, “It’s been a dream come true for me.”
He would now like to move up a level and try his luck in the UK Formula Ford Championship but as always in motor sport that will come down to finance and sponsorship.
For the moment, he is looking forward to the final round of this year’s Scottish championship at Knockhill on 17th October where he hopes to finish off a great season in style.