Leilani Münter is teaming up once again with Venturini Motorsports in order to pilot the No. 55 Blackfish Toyota for the ARCA International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 this weekend. Münter is known for her environmentalist efforts and Eco-friendly lifestyle as well as her racing. In fact, the No. 55 Toyota promotes "Blackfish," which is a 2013 Magnolia Pictures documentary centered on the consequences of keeping killer whales in captivity. The film features Tilikum, a bull orca involved in three human deaths since being captured for theme park life over 30 years ago.
"I'm a tree hugger. I'm a rainwater-collecting, vegan, solar panel-using, electric car driver. I really fit into that role, and then there's this weird exception that I drive a race car. But I realize that the race car is what gives me the ability to express these environmental issues to people. You don't change any minds by preaching to people who believe in the same thing that you do. The only way you win people over is to go and speak to the people who aren't into these ideas yet. I like to get the conversation going, and the race car serves a great purpose for me."
Funding for Talladega was running short according to Münteruntil she encountered Sam Simon, a key animal rights activist who happens to be the co-creator of TV's "The Simpsons" and a key contributor to many other productions of the last 35 years.
"I didn't really think we were going to go to Talladega, but then I was guest on Sam Simon's radio show - he's a huge animal rights activist, very passionate - and he spontaneously offered to cover the rest of the car's costs," she said.
Simon is living with terminal cancer but plans to join Münter and support "Blackfish" at Talladega this weekend. To recognize Simon's important contribution, Münter flew to Los Angeles to thank Simon several weeks ago.
"We would not be running Talladega if it weren't for Sam Simon," she said. "I'm incredibly honored, because Sam has terminal cancer and the fact that he's flying from L.A. to cheer me on at Talladega makes me feel honored. It's hard to put that into words, but he has limited time left on the planet and to be giving a whole day of that to me is amazing."
Venturini Motorsports Packing a Punch for 'Dega
Münter will join full-time Venturini Motorsports drivers Justin Boston and John Wes Townley in ARCA's 52nd race at Talladega. She's hopeful that no matter her result this weekend, she's able to promote the message of animal rights and everyday conservation.
"Every time something is on my car, it's something I feel really deeply about. I love driving, and I absolutely want to win Talladega, but I love it that if I win Talladega, I'm doing it in a really cool car with a message that makes people think."
Practice will take place from 9-11 a.m. before Menards Pole Qualifying at 3:35 p.m. on Friday. The race will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday. All times are Central Daylight, meaning the race will air live at 11 a.m. Eastern Saturday on Fox Sports 1.