Weight: 105 lbs
Born: Rochester, Minnesota
Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina
Started Racing: 2001
Racing Stats: In 45 starts, Leilani has 9 top five finishes and 19 top tens.
She has finished running over 80% of the time.
Current Racing Series: ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards
Past Racing Series:
Indy Pro Series, development league of IndyCar
NASCAR Elite Southwest Series & NASCAR Elite Southeast Series
ROMCO Super Late Model Series & USRA Super Late Model Series
NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Presented by Dodge
ASA North Series, ASA South Series & Allison Legacy Series
Education: Bachelor of Science in Biology from University of California San Diego specializing in Biology, Ecology, Behavior and Evolution
Hobbies: scuba diving, snowboarding, skydiving, fighting for clean energy and the environment, and being a voice for animals who don't have one.
Leilani Münter is a biology graduate who became a race car driver and environmental activist, using her unique voice in the racing world to fight for environmental issues. With years of dedication to environmental issues, she has become a recognized leader in the environmental community. Discovery's Planet Green named her the #1 eco athlete in the world, beating out Lance Armstrong for the top spot. Glamour Magazine called her "An Eco Hero." Sports Illustrated named her one of the top ten female race car drivers in the world.
Leilani started racing cars in 2001 on the short tracks of southern California. In 2003 she had her first start in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series at South Boston Speedway, she finished 9th. In 2004 the racing world took notice when she made her first speedway start at Texas Motor Speedway, setting a new record by qualifying 4th, the highest qualifying effort for a female driver at the track. It was her first super late model event and she impressed in the race as well, finishing 7th. In 2006 she turned heads in Texas again when she finished 4th, the highest finish for a female stock car driver in the history of the 1.5 mile speedway. The record still stands. That same year Leilani became the first woman to qualify in the 45 year history of the Bettenhausen Classic at Illiana Speedway in Indiana. At the end of the 2006 racing season, Leilani began testing ARCA race cars at the most famous NASCAR track of all: Daytona International Speedway.
In 2007 Leilani became the fourth woman in history to race in the Indy Pro Series, the developmental league of IndyCar. She impressed IndyCar veterans across the board when she qualified 5th and turned in the 5th-fastest lap of the race with a speed of 192.399 mph. Leilani was running in the top five when a multi car accident took her out of the race after another car cut a tire. Four-time Indy 500 champion Rick Mears, IndyCar driver Jaques Lazier, and many others in the IndyCar community spoke very highly of Leilani after her debut. After running another race in the Indy Pro Series at Chicagoland Speedway, finishing 13th, Leilani returned to stock car racing and tested well several years in a row at Daytona. She made her debut at Daytona in 2010, driving the first ever 100% eco sponsored race car with 6 environmental companies teaming up to get her car on the track. Leilani was one of only three women to qualify for the 2010 race on speed alongside Danica Patrick. Leilani returned to Daytona in 2012, this time she was driving the first ever ocean awareness race car to ever hit the high banks of Daytona International Speedway when she carried the colors of "The Cove" on her race car.
Leilani likes to be on the front line with her activism. In 2007, she became the first carbon neutral race car driver when she made the commitment to adopt an acre of rainforest for every race she runs to offset the carbon footprint of her race car. In 2008, Leilani became the first Ambassador of the National Wildlife Federation and made several trips to Capitol Hill to speak with members of Congress on behalf of clean energy legislation. She has spoken on the steps of Capitol Hill alongside Senators Barbara Boxer, Joe Lieberman, and John Kerry. After meeting with her, Senator Elizabeth Dole called Leilani "a woman on a mission." In 2010, she was one of the first activists to visit the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, eventually making two trips to areas of Louisiana devastated by the oil spill and documented her experience. Leilani has also made three trips to Japan in 2010 and 2011, spending several weeks in the small town of Taiji documenting the dolphin slaughter depicted in the Academy Award winning documentary "The Cove." In 2011 Leilani organized for the Empire State Building to be lit up red, in honor of the memory of the thousands of dolphins whose lives have been lost in the cove. She traveled to New York City and flipped the switch alongside director of "The Cove" Louie Psihoyos, world renowned dolphin activist Ric O'Barry, and actor John Leguizamo.
In fall of 2008, Leilani starred in a national ad campaign for Lucky Brand Jeans, her ads appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, In Style, W Magazine and Lucky Brand Jeans stores across the country and her caption read: "Leilani Münter, Race Car Driver and Environmentalist - Saving rainforests one race at a time."
Leilani's accomplishments have landed her on fourteen magazine covers and on the pages of USA Today, New York Times, Italian Vogue, Esquire, ESPN, Men's Journal, Newsweek, Glamour, Reader's Digest, Vanity Fair, Washington Post, and Sports Illustrated named her one of the top ten female race car drivers in the world. Glamour Magazine named her an "Eco Hero." She has been featured on the front page of both CNN and MSN Causes. The Huffington Post picked Leilani as one of their "Creative Minds 2011: People We Expect Great Things From." In 2010 Discovery's Planet Green named her the #1 Eco Athlete in the World, beating out Lance Armstrong for the top spot. She was profiled on Discovery Planet Green's new 2010 television series "Fast Forward." Coco Eco Magazine named her "One of 2010's Most Influential Women in Green." She has also been featured on CBS Morning News, ESPN, National Geographic, NBC Sports, Live on MSNBC, and Fashion TV.
Leilani is also an accomplished public speaker and published writer. She has delivered over fifty keynote speeches at prestigious events including Earth Day on the National Mall, American Renewable Energy Day in Aspen, Opportunity Green, Women of Independence in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and both Cleantech and Powershift in Washington, DC. She has had the honor of being a guest at briefings at the United Nations and the White House. Leilani is also an accomplished writer, having her work published by Discovery, Turner Sports, Coco Eco Magazine and Corvette Quarterly. She currently writes for Discovery's Treehugger and the green section of The Huffington Post, rated the most influential blog in the world by the Guardian and topping Time Magazine's blog index.
Leilani was born and raised in Minnesota. She excelled in science and earned a Presidential Academic Fitness Award in high school, graduating with a 4.0. In her senior year of high school, she became a PADI certified scuba diver, a hobby she continues to this day. While earning her degree in biology from the University of California in San Diego, she worked as a volunteer at a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center. Leilani has been a vegetarian for most of her life. Her mother, a nurse, was born in Hawaii and her father, a doctor, was born in Germany. Leilani has three older sisters - Svenja, Nicolette, and Natascha. Natascha is married to Grateful Dead guitarist and singer Bob Weir. In 2009, Leilani married engineer Craig Davidson in a seaside wedding on the Coromandel Peninsula of the North Island of New Zealand, his home country. Leilani once worked as a photo double and stunt driver for Catherine Zeta-Jones. Her home has a veggie garden, rainwater collection system, solar and LED lighting, and a worm farm to compost her food scraps. Leilani is left handed and has a cat named Pushkin. She is small, but tough. Her motto is: Never underestimate a vegetarian hippie chick with a race car.
Awards and Honors in Recognition of Her Work
Leilani received the Sustainatopia Honors Award in Miami - 2013
Leilani was a recipient of ELLE Magazine's Genius Award - 2012
Leilani was a guest at the White House for a briefing on the Greening of Sports - 2012
Origin Magazine featured Leilani as one of the "Leaders Shifting the Planet - 2012
Leilani was featured on the front page of MSN Causes being honored for Earth Day - 2012
Leilani was a guest at the White House for a briefing on Women and the Environment - 2012
Leilani spoke on the National Mall for Earth Day - 2012
The Huffington Post featured Leilani in "Creative Minds: People We Expect Great Things From" - 2011
Leilani was featured in United Nations book "Champions For Change: Athletes Making a World of Difference - 2010
Leilani was named the #1 Eco Athlete in the World by Discovery's Planet Green - 2010
Leilani was featured on the front page of CNN: "She's Racing To Save the Environment" - 2010
Coco Eco Magazine named Leilani "One of the Most Influential Women in Green" - 2010
Glamour Magazine named Leilani "An Eco Hero" - 2009
Leilani starred in a national ad campaign for Lucky Brand Jeans - 2008 & 2009
Leilani was a guest at the United Nations roundtable discussion on climate change - 2008
Leilani became the first Ambassador of the National Wildlife Federation - 2008
Sports Illustrated named her one of the top ten female race car drivers in the world - 2007
Racing Accomplishments and Records
Leilani turned the fastest lap of the race at Daytona in the ARCA race (she was 2/10 of a second faster than the leaders) before getting taken out in "The Big One" on Feb 6, 2010.
Leilani was one of only three women to qualify for the Daytona 2010 ARCA race on speed, alongside Danica Patrick and Alli Owens. She qualified 25th out of 51 race cars attempting to make the field.
Leilani was 7th quick at Daytona ARCA testing in Dec 2009 with a speed of 181.77 mph.
Leilani became the fourth woman in history to compete in the Indy Pro Series, the developmental league of IndyCar in 2007.
Leilani set the record for the highest finishing position for a female driver in the history of the 1.5 mile Texas Motor Speedway
when she finished 4th in the Konica Minolta 100 on June 10, 2006.
Leilani set the record for the highest qualifying effort for a female stock car driver in the history of the 1.5 mile Texas Motor Speedway when she qualified 4th for the First Convenience Bank 100 on June 12, 2004.
Leilani became the first woman to qualify in the 45 year history of the Bettenhausen Classic at Illiana Speedway in Indiana on September 16, 2006.
Leilani was 5th quick in her very first laps at Chicagoland Speedway in a practice session for the Indy Pro Series Chicagoland 100 on Sept 8, 2007.
In her very first laps at Daytona International Raceway, Leilani was 24th quick of 59 ARCA race cars testing on Dec 16, 2006.
Leilani turned the 5th quickest lap at the Indy Pro Series race at Kentucky Speedway on Aug 11, 2007 with a speed of 192.399 mph.
Leilani qualified 5th for her debut in the Indy Pro Series at Kentucky Speedway on Aug 11, 2007. She had trouble on a restart and dropped back to 13th but dazzled the crowd by racing her way back up to the front of the field. She was about to pass for 4th place when she was collected in a multi-car accident. Four time Indy 500 champion Rick Mears, IndyCar driver Jaques Lazier and many others in the IndyCar community spoke very highly of Münter after her debut.
In 45 starts, Leilani has 9 top five finishes and 19 top tens. She has finished running over 80% of the time. Two of these races were in the Indy Pro Series, the rest were stock car races including the following series: ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, NASCAR Elite Southeast Series, NASCAR Elite Southwest Series, ASA North and ASA South, ROMCO Super Late Model Series, USRA Super Late Model Series, NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Presented by Dodge and the Allison Legacy Series. Click here for racing highlights and complete race history.