Here's an oxymoron for you: tree-hugging race car driver. But Leilani Münter professes equal love for going fast and going green. How does the IRL hopeful reconcile the two? Better than potential employers do.
How does an environmentalist become a race car driver?
Racing is my passion. When I'm in the car, I feel like the whole world disappears. It's just me and the racetrack.
Okay, but aren't you concerned that racing will contribute to the whole world's actually disappearing?
At first I thought it was a contradiction, but I realized that if I promote an eco-friendly lifestyle, I can reach millions of fans and try to get them to make changes.
You drive a '97 VW Golf. Jonesin' for a hybrid?
I'd love one! The Golf is my college clunker. But money's tight. I don't have a sponsor right now, and I buy an acre of rain forest for each race I enter. About that lack of sponsorship—you haven't raced this year because of it. You okay with that? I promote renewable energy and recycling on my website*, I don't want to work with companies that don't support that. I hope it doesn't end my career, but the risk is there.
What do race fans make of you?
I get a lot of letters saying, "You're brainwashed by Al Gore." And I saw a post on a NASCAR site that said, "I'm going to burn all the oil in my yard to make up for the acre of forest she is buying." But hey, at least there was a debate about global warming on a NASCAR forum.
*Visit carbonfreegirl.com. Mother Earth will love you for it.