October 3, 2014

By Sebastian Blanco; Original story here

ARCA Racer Says NASCAR Fans Are Ready For Green Message

Leilani Münter is putting a red, white and blue spin on green at the Kansas Speedway tonight. That’s where the eco-minded racer is debuting her Energy Freedom car with the message that people should be able to choose how clean they want their energy to be.

Tonight is the last race of the season for ARCA, a stock car racing series a level below the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Münter told AutoblogGreen this week that this is the perfect time to bring up the energy freedom issue, since the media is already paying attention. She’s no stranger to this sort of thing, either, having driven a race car with solar power assistance at a race at Chicagoland and running a 100-percent renewable energy car at Daytona earlier this year.

“I wanted to show people that [EV] technology that is available to us now.” – Leilani Münter

“My degree is in biology, so I’ve always been eco-minded,” she said before recounting a story about driving her personal Tesla Model Sfrom Charlotte, NC to that race in Chicago. “I wanted to show people that this is a technology that is available to us now and that you can make long trips,” she said. She used the burgeoningSupercharger network to fill up along the way and even announced her stops ahead of time in order to meet fans, both of her racing and EV technology. She said some people asked about running out of electricity, but answered them with a laugh and explained that she’s got this thing on her dash board that shows her how many miles she has left, just like a gas gauge.

Regular readers might remember Münter from the “Eco Dream Team” of race car drivers she put together in 2008 or when she saw the effects of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 first hand. She also had a previous life in Hollywood as a stand-in for Catherine Zeta-Jones. She said that she used the money she made from working on movies to go racing school. That was 14 years ago, and she’s used her racing skills to not only promote green energy but also to bring more green to the track since then. She adopts an acre of rain forest or donates to coral reef protection after each race.
As for the new Energy Freedom car, Münter said that, “As Americans we should have the right to choose where we get our energy. Utilities are getting a little nervous about people choosing renewable energy, and this car is meant to bring that topic up. I have solar panels on my roof and I can drive off of sunshine every day. There are a lot of places where it’s difficult to get solar panels and where the utility is basically a monopoly. This country was founded on us having freedoms and we shouldn’t have these utilities telling us ‘we’re not going to let you do that.’ Part of it is letting people know that this battle is happening. The other part is that it makes financial sense. It’s just a smart economic move. 100-percent renewable energy is, I think, a totally possible solution.”

“Because I have a race car, it gives me a voice.”

She also thinks that race fans are ready for this fresh energy message. “That’s exactly why I go to the race track,” she said. “I can reach so many people that I couldn’t reach if I was a biologist and running around San Diego. Because I have a race car, it gives me a voice to get these technologies out there and accepted by the mainstream. They’re not going to come to a renewable energy conference in Aspen, but they are going to be at Daytona.” Just ask the lines of fans who, it turns out, were more interested in her Model S than in her autograph after that Chicago race. “As someone who is versed in both worlds, I can tell you that they’re ready,” she said.