Kelly "Girl" Sutton races at Kentucky Speedway SPARTA, Ky. (June 28, 2003) ---- Kentucky's Churchill Downs is known for its spirited horses, some of the fastest in the world, where all eyes are focused on just a few horses. Fifty miles down ...
Kelly "Girl" Sutton races at Kentucky Speedway
SPARTA, Ky. (June 28, 2003) ---- Kentucky's Churchill Downs is known for its spirited horses, some of the fastest in the world, where all eyes are focused on just a few horses. Fifty miles down the road at Kentucky Speedway, however, Kelly "Girl" Sutton prefers the more than 300 horses of her Team COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) Pontiac Sunfire.
Sutton, the first person with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) known to race in any NASCAR series, returns to the Bluegrass State Friday, July 11, for the Goody's Dash NASCAR Touring Series "Kentucky 150" at Kentucky Speedway. Riding the momentum of an awesome season that has kept her near the top of the point standings, Sutton travels to the 1.5-mile tri-oval looking for important championship points.
"Kentucky is one of the last races of the season, and we want to show everyone that we're still hungry," says Sutton. "We're back to a superspeedway, and there is going to be a lot of pedal-to-the-metal racing out there."
Long Road to the Track
Sutton, a third-generation driver, began riding motorcycles when she was just 10 years old. At the age of 12, she graduated to racing go-carts. By the time she was 15, Sutton was making her mark in local racing -- until overwhelming fatigue and a tingling sensation on her right side began sidelining her on a regular basis. At 16, Sutton was diagnosed with RRMS.
"I was devastated," said Sutton. "I was afraid I would have to give up the things I loved."
Although she did spend time in a wheelchair, Sutton was determined to learn how to manage her disease. Through a disciplined exercise regimen, a conscientious diet, and a daily injection of drug therapy, she found herself back in the driver's seat.
It was a long road, but in 2002, Sutton raced her first full season in the Goody's Dash Series, finishing third in rookie points and twelfth overall -- beating out 75 other drivers.
Reaching Out to Fans
Sutton's determination resonates with fans. At the 2002 Goody's Dash Series banquet, she was named the most popular driver in the series.
"Everybody has mountains to climb," says the 31-year-old mother of two. "Mine is MS. I think because I've battled it so publicly, people can see some of their own stories in mine."
During breaks from the racing action, Sutton travels around the country sharing with the MS community the story of her personal battle with multiple sclerosis. Sutton enjoys inspiring audiences and being inspired by them.
"Interacting with other people with MS reminds me that this disease is just something we have to deal with. It is not who we are," she says. "I am a mom. I am a wife. I am a racecar driver. Those are the things that define me -- not MS."
Leaning on Science
Attitude, exercise, and diet all are important to managing MS, but in recent years, another option has emerged -- drug therapy.
The FDA has approved drugs, such as the COPAXONE® (glatiramer acetate injection) that Sutton takes. COPAXONE® is indicated for the reduction of the frequency of relapses in relapsing-remitting MS.