A dream that has been five years in the making will become reality this weekend for environmental activist and race car driver Leilani Münter. Münter, in partnership with A Well-Fed World, will drive the first ever vegan-themed race car at Daytona International Speedway during the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season-opener.
After spending several years pitching the idea to vegan companies, the break came last summer during Münter’s acceptance speech of the Vegan Athlete of the Year Award at the Animal Rights National Conference in Los Angeles.
“I talked about how I have this dream of bringing vegan food to the race track and exposing it to this whole new demographic of people, especially because I’ve had some success getting my race team to open up to vegan foods,” Münter said of the speech.
A few weeks later, Münter received a call from A Well-Fed World and the dream started to become reality. Münter’s No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Toyota will be easy to spot around the 2.5-mile superspeedway with its bright green and blue colors and the words “Vegan Powered” prominently displayed on the hood and quarter panels.
Münter, an advocate for solar power, electric cars, a plant-based diet and animal rights, is always racing for a cause. Her past race cars have included messages regarding renewable energy and clean energy legislation as well as documentaries The Cove and Blackfish.
Saturday’s Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 driven by General Tire will mark Münter’s ninth ARCA start. The Rochester, Minn. native posted the 16th quickest speed of the 63 drivers who posted time during pre-season testing in January.
“I know they’re going to give me a great race car, they always do,” said Münter who is making her sixth start with the Venturini Motorsports organization and is the only female driver in the field. “We had a great run at Talladega (in 2014, where Münter qualified eighth and finished 14th). We’ve had great runs here at Daytona that have been cut short - it’s just a matter of staying out of trouble.”
In addition to racing, Leilani will continue delivering her vegan message during Saturday’s pre-race festivities and continuing through the Daytona 500. As part of an extensive sponsorship activation campaign, Leilani and her partners will be front and center outside the stadium delivering free Vegan food samples to thousands of race fans.
Leilani’s Vegan Powered tent display featuring her race car will be located in the fan-vendor area outside the front entrance of Daytona International Speedway. Several additional organizations made donations to help A Well-Fed World make the Vegan Powered tent possible including major donations from Peace 4 Animals, World Animal News, and Mercy for Animals.
“The tent will be so powerful because it’s really that moment where they take a bite and they go ‘Wow, I can’t believe that’s not meat, it tastes just like meat.’ So we’re serving vegan chicken wings, vegan meatballs and all the kinds of meat type products they would find at the race track - it’s just plant-based meats.”
During the ARCA weekend, vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke will make an appearance at the Vegan Powered tent display. NFL player David Carter, known as ‘The 300 Pound Vegan,’ will join Leilani during the Daytona 500 weekend.
“People often look at me and may think, ‘Well you’re vegan, but you’re a petite woman and I’m a big, tough guy and I’ve got to eat meat.’ I think it’s good for the race fans to see these big, tough athletes that are vegan.”
Racing is a team effort and the Venturini Motorsports organization will come together to go vegan on race day, which also happens to be Münter’s 43rd birthday.
“I’m looking at it like my birthday gift from the race team, they’re all going vegan for the day. That’s really special to me. I know they certainly wouldn’t be going vegan on Saturday without me here,” Münter said with a laugh.
Münter will appear on NASCAR Race Hub, Fox Sports 1’s daily NASCAR news and information program, today (Thursday, February 16) at 6 p.m. ET as part of the show’s “Women in Wheels” series. In addition to filming at the Venturini Motorsports shop, the piece will feature a look inside Münter’s vegan kitchen, her solar- powered home, and her all-electric Tesla Model S.