Hi everyone! This is a place for me to express my thoughts on racing, the environment, science, politics, and whatever else might cross my wandering mind. It was an overflow of random ideas, reflections, notes and quotes for those of you who take the time to read it. Happy travels and I'll see you down the road...
 
Peace,
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
12.13.13 - it's on: oil vs electric
 
Leilani latest blog is "It's On: Oil versus Electric" - view it on The Huffington Post
 
For the earth...
 

 

 

 

 

 
10.24.13 - king abdullah: let the women drive
 
Imagine what your world would be like if, simply because of your gender, you were not allowed to drive a car. Every day, you would have to rely on a male driver to take you anywhere you need to go - school, work, the grocery store. You must spend money every day to pay this driver. There is no way out of this, because in the country where you were born, women are not allowed to drive cars.
 
Such is the case for all the women living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But things are starting to change. On October 26, brave women across Saudi Arabia will defy the ban on driving and take the wheel.
 
As a woman, a race car driver, and someone who has visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I feel very strongly that now is the time for this ban to end. That is why I partnered with Jordan Bloch (who donated his time) to make this video to spread awareness for these brave souls who will get behind the wheel this Saturday.
 

 
Please join me and honk for the women of Saudi Arabia. Post your videos, photos, and tweets and send the links to honkforsaudiwomen@gmail.com. Let's show the women of Saudi Arabia that the world is listening!
 
Comment on "King Abdullah: Let the Women Drive" on The Huffington Post
 
For the earth...
 

 

 

 

 

 
05.23.13 - why we need to fight for tesla
 
Leilani latest blog is "Why We Need to Fight for Tesla" - view it on The Huffington Post
 
For the earth...
 

 

 

 

 

 
09.21.12 - out of almost three thousand names, i chose his
 
I was in New York City today for some meetings that will hopefully lead to me getting back behind the wheel of a race car. My schedule has been full of travel lately, and I am getting weary of hotels, airports, and living out of suitcases. I had lots of things on my To Do list today, but instead I decided I needed a break from my computer screen and my cell phone, and so I closed my computer and headed over to the 9/11 Memorial. When I got there, I realized everyone standing in line waiting to get in had tickets printed out - it doesn't cost anything to view the memorial, but you have to reserve your spot ahead of time. Luckily for me, the family directly in front of me in line had a spare ticket and they offered it to me. Thank you to the Rodriguez family.
 
As you walk in, the first place you see is the memorial pool for the South Tower and it was overwhelming. As I approached it, I felt like it knocked the wind out of me. I walked around both pools and took photographs, staring in disbelief with everyone else at the enormity of what had happened here and the strange feeling that we were standing in the shadow of where these enormous towers once stood. I watched as family members came to pay their respects - leaving roses, taking imprints of their loved one's name to take home, perhaps for other family members who could not make the trip. It was a beautiful day in New York, sunshine and a light breeze, but the sadness around those pools was staggering.
 
I walked around the pools reading what felt like an endless list of names of the people we lost that day, and like many others I was snapping photographs with my cell phone. Upon returning to the hotel, I picked out some of the better shots to post and started looking up the people whose names were featured in my photos. It is interesting to note that one of the first photographs I took prominently featured the name Gary Jay Frank - almost three thousand names and for some reason, I decided to focus my photo on him. When I read his story, I found out that Gary had a dolphin tattooed on his left shoulder. He must have been a kindred spirit. Rest in peace.
 



 
For the earth...
 

 

 

 

 

 
03.12.12 - like taiji's cove, daytona breaks my heart - again.
 
I haven't been able to write about my experience at Daytona this year yet, even though my race was almost a month ago. I think I needed time to heal. Daytona has not been kind to me. My first trip to the historic track was in 2001, the day Dale Earnhardt Sr was killed on the last lap of the Daytona 500. It was my birthday.
 
I tested at Daytona for the first time in December of 2006, and since then I have worked tirelessly to get sponsorship in place to run a race car I was proud of, with companies that I believed in on the hood. Finally, two years ago in February 2010, I got to do what every stock car driver in America dreams of - to race at Daytona. I had six environmental companies come together to support my race car: GREENandSave, LED Savings Solutions, NativeEnergy, groSolar, Home Efficiency Reports, and Eco Academy. There was also seventh company, renewable energy company NextEra Energy Resources, who sponsored my December test at Daytona to prepare for the race in February. I had a decent race car, on the last day of testing we were 7th quick and Danica Patrick was 5th quick, only 6/100 of a second faster, and she was running with a team with financial resources far beyond my team. We did well for a small single-car race team. I was one of only three women to qualify for the race on speed, starting 25th in the race. There were 3.7 million people tuning in to watch my race live on SPEED Channel. And while most eyes were on Danica, I knew this was a huge opportunity for me, it was the chance I had been working so hard for.
 
Then on lap 7, disaster struck: a veteran driver lost control coming out of turn two and caused "the big one" which took out ten race cars, including me. I was on the apron of the racetrack and was almost clear of the wreck when a car slammed into me from behind, pushing me back up into the racetrack where I was t-boned by another car. The car I had worked for months and months to raise the funds to race was now in a heap, all because someone behind me forgot to hit the brakes. I know he didn't mean to do it, everything happens pretty fast out there at those speeds, but it didn't make the outcome any easier to accept.
 
I was crushed but Daytona is famous for being cruel. Dale Earnhardt lost the Daytona 500 nineteen years in a row before finally winning it in 1998. Daytona had broken his heart many times before giving him his perfect race. Daytona had broken my heart too, but she had not broken me. I would be back. It took some time to get back on my feet, but two years later I returned - and this was no ordinary race car.
 


 
The sport of auto racing began the day that the second automobile was built. And for as long as car racing has been around, the race cars have been 200 mph billboards. But for many years, I have been wanting to do something different: to use my race car to make people think. Rather than just promoting a brand, my race car would address important issues. I hold a degree in biology, but I've been concerned about our environment long before I ever set foot in college. It's been in my thoughts for as long as I can remember. In 2007, I began adopting an acre of rainforest every time I drive a race car. Since then I have raced with only green companies on my car and have walked away from sponsorship from companies doing bad things to our planet, sometimes keeping me on the sidelines. This season I took the next step when I launched what I call my 200 mph eco awareness program. The goal is to educate and engage the 75 million race fans in the US and inspire them to rethink their day-to-day habits for our planet. Each time my race car hits the track we will be addressing a different environmental issue and there will be a specific call to action. I have been working on this program for years, and finally this February, it went from being a great "think outside the eco box" idea to the real thing.
 
View a slideshow of Leilani's Eco Journey in Racing
 
The debut of my eco awareness race car was themed after the Academy Award winning documentary "The Cove," which exposed the annual slaughter of thousands of dolphins in a small cove in Taiji, Japan. The film, which won over 70 awards globally, also exposed the undeniable connection between dolphin parks and dolphin captivity with the largest slaughter of dolphins in the world. After seeing the film, I was so inspired that I've traveled to Japan three times as a volunteer over the past two years. In December I called the director of "The Cove," Louie Psihoyos, and activist Ric O'Barry, and they both agreed that if I could raise the funds to race, they would fly to Daytona and autograph 1000 dvds of "The Cove" to give away to the race fans. On January 3 we announced our intention to collect donations to fund a "The Cove" themed race car at Daytona and get this important issue in front of mainstream America. I wasn't sure we would be able to pull it off, but I called and emailed everyone I knew and asked them to donate. If they couldn't donate, I asked them to share the donation page with their friends and family. I pushed it on my social media accounts. I held my breathe and was surprised to see the donations flowing in from all over the world. We told inquiring companies that if they donated to the cause their logos would not be featured on the race car because this car was about saving dolphins not selling products. And even so, carbon neutral website hosting company pair Networks stepped in because they believed in the cause. And just six weeks later, the ocean lovers, environmental community and race fans blew me away by rallying around the cause and helping me raise all the funds needed to get my "The Cove" themed race car on track at Daytona.
 
Eleven years to the day that Dale Earnhardt passed away, I returned to run my second race at Daytona with high hopes. I was driving the first ever ocean awareness race car to hit the high banks of Daytona. I had raised all the funds to race this car from the passion of people who rallied around the dolphin issue. Messages of support poured in from around the world including France, Australia, Germany, and New Zealand. "We love you in Macedonia!" wrote Risto Hristov and @derekdonnelle tweeted "I'm not a NASCAR fan but I will have to watch it this year for @LeilaniMunter and her Cove car!" I felt like I was driving this car for every single person that had made a donation. I labored hours over the design of the race car, hand picking the blues to make sure the car was perfect and it paid off: it was, and will remain, the most beautiful race car I have ever driven. Two of my heroes were in my pit box: dolphin activist Ric O'Barry and director Louie Psihoyos. We gave away 1000 DVD copies of the film away to the race fans. It was my birthday. I was living my dream.
 
I qualified 26th out of the 54 race cars that attempted the race, with 43 of us making up the starting grid. My team decided that our strategy would be to drop to the back of the field before the green flag to avoid "the big one" that had taken me out in 2010. We wanted the race cars to spread out a little bit before we started moving to the front. We wanted to be there at the end, when it counts. Then on lap 14, my left rear tire blew as I was coming out of turn two. Thankfully, I was able to keep the car off the wall and there was no damage to the race car. I came into the pits, got four new tires, and went back out only to have my heart sink to my stomach when I found my motor turning 6300 rpm instead of 7100 rpm. I changed to my back up ignition box in case that was the problem, but nothing happened. Completely dejected, I limped around the rest of the race until my motor started smoking with 12 laps to go. I brought my beautiful race car to the garage, finishing 36th. Disappointed doesn't begin to describe the feeling. I had to sit in the car in the garage for a while, just trying to absorb what had happened.
 

 
When I returned home to North Carolina, I built up the courage to watch the race. Only then did I realize that my tire blowing was the reason for the great television coverage for the dolphins. As the heartbreaking image of my left rear tire flying off my race car played out on national television, SPEED TV commentator Rick Allen talked about the "The Cove" and recommended people watch it. Hearing his words, I felt a smile creeping on to my face. At the same exact moment that my racing dream was being smashed to pieces inside my race car, my activist dream of being a voice for the dolphins was echoing onto millions of television sets. One dream died as the other was realized.
 
Before the race, as I was strapping myself into my race car, I had asked the dolphins to help me be their voice. And they did. Everything was as it should be.
 
It was another heartbreaking experience at Daytona, but I know that I will be back again. At least I hope to be. Maybe I will be driving a "The Cove" themed race car again, but my hope is that the dolphin slaughter will end before next February and there will be no need. I will carry on, and continue to use my race car to address environmental issues and raise awareness in my sport. I just hope Daytona is nicer to me next time.
 
Comment on Leilani's blog "Daytona Breaks My Heart - Again" on The Huffington Post
 
Comment on Leilani's blog "Daytona Breaks My Heart - Again" on Treehugger
 
For the earth...
 

 

 

 

 

 
01.20.12 - freedom film
 
Freedom is a great documentary about energy independence and the future of biofuels. I appear in it briefly alongside Michelle Rodriguez, General Wesley Clark, Jason Mraz, Former Head of the CIA Jim Woolsey, and many more. Check it out:
 


 

sept - oct '11
why we race, dan wheldon
guidepost tv: race to save the world
sad reality about dolphin captivity
the cove continues: diary from taiji
first slaughter in taiji
typhoon talas aftermath

 
june - sept '11
dolphins in danger as typhoon approaches
green girl minute in aspen
jumping off bridges in new zealand
new psa for the dolphin project
bob weir plays for the dolphins in san rafael
honk for saudi women's driving initiative

 
oct '10 - may '11
sea change radio, on being a paradox
operation free, veterans for clean energy
huffington post creative minds
interview with creceda's closet
dolphin drive, private space's nickname for me
internet's save japan dolphins day

 
sept - oct '10
on electric cars & big oil
meeting private space
a look inside the taiji slaughterhouse
saved one life today
racing season over, i'm headed for taiji
what veterans & race drivers have in common

 
july - sept '10
home from japan, changed for life
headed for japan, blood still flows at the cove
my 2nd trip to the gulf oil spill
live from the oil spill on msnbc
our new worm farm
my episode on discovery's new tv series

 
june - june '10
speak your mind
13 dolphins waiting to go free
compelling argument for clean energy
trip down memory lane, halliburton style
inside bp headquarters
error 404

 
may - june '10
discovery's #1 eco athlete!
a woman on the edge
clean energy wake up call
a few words for bp's ceo
diary from the gulf day 2
diary from the gulf day 1

 
oct '09 - may '10
headed to the gulf oil spill
introducing my eco race car
last woman to run daytona 500
save the kiwi
the cove. shallow water. deep secret.
wtf are these yellow books?

 
oct '08 - oct '09
cool people who were veg
where the hell is matt?
tales from malaysia, new zealand
nugget of truth about 'clean coal'
our oceans are full of trash
glamour shoots, grateful dead shows

 
july - aug '08
shame on big oil
to our leaders
my race to save the planet
canada: a veg friendly zone
one of the best commercials ever
i am a lucky (jeans) girl!

 
mar - oct '08
hydrogen fuel cells
the girl who silenced the world
energy star homes
ode to pushkin
trip to capitol hill
paul potts, superstar

 
dec '07 - mar '08
you are such a househugger
launching my new eco site
the war against science
very cool art
engaged in fiji
north country

 
oct - nov '07
turn the tables
beauty of chris mccandless
11th hour action blog
letter to nascar
eco frustration
bobby weir birthday party

 
july - oct '07
italian vogue shoot
car of the future
alive day memories
carbon footprints & other stuff
training for the big leagues
flying car anyone?

 
june - july '07
leonardo's new eco movie
jessica the hippo
the art of the juggle
the downfall of western civilization
day for the ladies at belmont
plastic bags are lame & more

 
april - may '07
a plea to nascar
my fenders flew off!
happy earth day
today we are all hokies
kurt vonnegut we miss you

 
feb - mar '07
discovery's planet earth
hippies in north carolina
heaven or vail?
hollywood goes green
sweet home minnesota
plug in america

 
nov '06 - jan '07
a story about benny parsons
snowboarding in oregon
harnessing the power of earth
i jumped out of an airplane
please save the horses
i am thankful

 
july - oct '06
a break in the phar lap mystery
race divas hit up vegas
steve irwin 1962-2006
the story of a father & son
ladies we have a long way to go
my most important blog

 
april - june '06
trading paint with the big boys
don't mess with texas
in memory of vince welnick
the king and i
big bars, soft springs, & hard tires
checkin' in

 
jan - mar '06
the perfect beach
paul dana 1975-2006
basketball hero
a late night blog
ode to racing's significant others
an old coyote at a poodle party

 
sept - dec '05
off to new zealand
oil and why it rules the world
thanks to a porsche gt3
a remarkable little boy i met
stay hungry stay foolish
a prayer for new orleans

 
june - aug '05
for the birds - pixar films
a kiwi man drought?
southern charm
a sad day in london
my new day job
a tribute to napoleon dynamite

 
mar - may '05
woman power, go danica
surfs up!
hi from darlington
dance like nobody's watching
a photo essay
life is a gamble, let it ride

 
jan - mar '05
standing on my soap box
on the road again
down, but not out
hi from the big apple
bahamas baby!
daytona testing

 
nov - dec '04
playboy is calling
racing is all about the benjamins
i found a good egg
ahhhhhh, paris
texas has been good to me

 




 
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