Rob Brezny asked me (and other Aries’, but enough about them.) this burning question back in like 2005. Since then, I’ve been wondering what the answer is. I am lucky in that I am passionate about something, which means I’m closer to knowing what I’m born to do than most people. The problem is, I have a broad and disparate range of passions. Fast motorcycles, high fashion, exceptionally crafted artisinal designer shoes, getting other people to realize how scarce water is and stop fucking wasting it, doing what I can to encourage others to be child free. Oh, and cane sugar-free chocolate.
So what the hell was I born to do, besides shop/ride/be wild/run or whatever other cliche fits my mood? Or, how can I make a good living and save the planet through any and all of those? Anyway, while this question continues to smolder in my mind, I had the pleasure of hearing Leilani Münter talk about how she’s united her two greatest passions, and is completely immersed in what she was clearly born to do- race cars and inspire race fans to embrace sustainability.
Be Like Leilani
Leilani studied biology, and has a passion for saving the planet. She also has a passion for racing, and went so far as to move to Charlotte, NC after graduating from UC San Diego because she wanted to race so badly she did what they told her to do. To be taken seriously as an aspiring car racer in the US, one must be in Charlotte, where NASCAR is based. Even if you’re vegan and the nearest vegan restaurant is hundreds of miles away in Asheville, you still gotta be in Charlotte. So Leilani moved there with only her helmet and a dream. She did all kinds of jobs that I would probably never deign to do, just to be involved in the race community. She slept in her car at races when she couldn’t afford a hotel, and now that’s she’s finally successful enough to be sponsored by a major brand, she spoke to an audience of people most likely to be able to help her reach her next goal. Next, she’d like to be able to spread the cost of sponsorship among many smaller companies, and reserve her hood space (the premium) for a single eco message at each race, whether it be an LED lightbulb, recycling, etc.
Leilani not only teaches fans about sustainability, she is also actively working with NASCAR to help them find ways to lower their CO2 footprint. Which, by the way, is lower than that of football, as there are way more football games played weekly in the US, and the cumulative energy needed to move everyone and run the show is much greater than that of pro auto racing, even taking into account the fact that it’s race gas they’re burning! She also uses her merchandising booth as a venue to sell eco products, so I think it’s a great opportunity for a small brand, or one that might not otherwise get an opportunity to advertise to NASCAR & Indy car race fans. Her site lists not only current sponsors, but also past ones.
Leilani told us about a time on one of the NASCAR forums where someone posted a complaint about her, saying she’d been brainwashed by Al Gore. Before you know it, the thread is a mile long and people are posting charts of GHG PPM and stuff. There’s arguing and name calling back and forth as NASCAR fans face off about global warming. She points out that this may have been the first time this subject was ever discussed among NASCAR fans.
See, now isn’t that the most awesome example you ever saw of someone bringing sustainability to their workplace? I only wish I could be half as cool. Well, she did tell me I’m braver than her because I raced motorcycles. But I’m not brave enough to break into the pros on 2 wheels!