First-Ever Vegan-Themed Racecar About to Hit Tracks at Daytona
Professional racer Leilani Münter, also known as a passionate environmentalist and animal rights advocate, plans to raise more than a few eyebrows when she debuts the first-ever vegan-themed racecar at Daytona International Speedway’s Speedweeks!
We sat down with Leilani, who will race at Daytona, to find out what it’s like to be a vegan racecar driver.
You’re known as the “vegan hippie chick with a racecar.” How did you get started?
In 2000, I went to a racing school and after being the fastest car on the track, I had a local race team owner encourage me to have a go at it. I spent nine months looking for my first sponsorship to race at a local short track in Southern California, and I fought for the lead in my first race and was hooked. I’ve been racing ever since.
What inspired you to bring the first-ever vegan racecar to Daytona? What effect do you hope to have on fans?
I’ve been dreaming of racing a vegan-themed racecar! We have had great success in raising awareness for the documentaries Blackfish and The Cove, as well as several clean energy groups, at races in the past. Racing offers a fantastic opportunity to reach a new audience.
I am a big believer in not preaching to the choir. If we only speak to those who already believe in the same things we do, then who is going to change the minds of those who don’t? If we really want to grow the movement, then we need to get out there and get to the heartland of America—what better place than the most famous racetrack in NASCAR?
In addition to racing in your badass vegan car, you’re planning to give away free vegan food samples. Please tell us a little more.
We are going to be serving free vegan food samples to thousands of race fans at Daytona during Daytona Speedweeks, including the day of the Daytona 500 where there will be more than 100,000 fans at the track.
I’ve turned some of my race team crew on to plant-based meats and cheeses, and I wanted to amplify that same effect by millions of race fans. We have a big tent going up that will have a duplicate of my racecar on display, and Chef Jason Stefanko is coming in to cook some amazing vegan food. With the exception of my race day, February 18, I will be at the tent to talk to the fans about my experience being vegan as well. I can’t wait!
Do you have any advice for people making the switch to a vegan diet?
It’s so easy to be vegan these days! As a vegan at the racetrack, I often get asked “What do you eat?” The answer is I eat the same things everyone else does except my meats and cheeses are plant-based. When I travel I absolutely love trying all the new vegan restaurants that are popping up all over the world.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
The race airs live on FS1 at 4 p.m. EST on Saturday, February 18. There is also a story airing on FS1 on the vegan-powered campaign and my activism in racing on a show called NASCAR Race Hub on Thursday, February 16, at 6 p.m. EST.
1966 Studebaker Daytona Sport. This is one of the last Studebaker’s ever built. Production at their main plant in South Bend Indiana had ended in 1963. The Canadian plant was only kept open to use up the remaining parts inventory. By the time this one was built, they had ran out of the Studebaker engines, so this one carries a Chevy small block V-8.