Women in NASCAR: Leilani Münter

Leilani is an extremely busy woman.  If it wasn't for e-mail this article may have not gotten written.  Leilani majored in biology, went to Hollywood, and ended up racing, with a lot of in between.  So fasten your seatbelts and sit back while Leilani takes us on a ride of determined woman to make it in a man's world.

Leilani started by obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Biology, University of California San Diego and went on to volunteer for 3 years at a wildlife rehabilitation center in San Diego, California.  She then went to Hollywood where she worked on movies such as Traffic, Ocean's Eleven, and Almost Famous.  Now she is pursing her racing career.


Leilani is currently drives for Nascar AutoZone Elite Division, teaches at FastTrack racing school, and works for Nascar.com.  She also graces many magazine covers and appears on TV.  I'm a wife, educator, free-lance writer, and volunteer firefighter and thought I was busy.  I have come to the conclusion that I was delusional.  I had to know how she did it all.  "I am very busy and my schedule is constantly changing but it's fun, I enjoy working as an instructor at Fast Track Racing School and my correspondent work for NASCAR.com. They are both extremely rewarding. My main focus, however, and my number one job right now-- is finding sponsorship to race full time next year."


But how on earth did biology major who went to Hollywood end up racing?  Now it seems most are driving from the time they are big enough to see over the steering wheel.  "I fell in love with racing during my college years, it was just something I was unable to pursue because of my financial situation. I was a broke college student. As soon as I graduated and I started working full time in the movies, every dime I could save went into getting on the racetrack." 


With all of her connections to the world of NASCAR it made me wonder why on Earth why wasn't the girl at least in a driver development program somewhere.  "I am honored to say I am currently working with a top quality, championship Nextel Cup team who hopes to field race cars for me full time in ARCA in 2006. We are currently seeking sponsors to make that happen. The plan would be to move to Trucks or Busch after a successful ARCA campaign" Since the time of the interview and the writing of this article the following has been posted on leilanimunter.com "Major announcement coming soon regarding the 2006 racing season. Leilani will be in a car full time and will be competing for a championship. Sponsor and series will be announced in the upcoming press release. You will also see Leilani featured in a national ad campaign throughout 2006, announcements coming soon along with an all new website, so stay tuned..."  She also stated that the friends she has made due to her work have been a great resource for her.


When speaking with other female racers I always ask them their feelings on Danica's media coverage.  She has been the "face" for all female drivers, no matter what division.  Danica has had sponsorship behind her for sometime grooming her to be ready for the level she is at now. "We want to do that same thing for myself with the Nextel Cup team. We want to take the time and do it right, get the experience I need in the lower levels so I when I move into the big leagues I will be ready and able to run up front and win races. The top notch equipment is there waiting for me. I would have every resource in the world a driver could ask for, we just need the sponsorship."  It appears as though now that she has gotten the sponsorship that she so desperately needed.


As a racing junky, I had to ask once again what drafting is like.  This is by far the best answer I have had so far. "I was surprised how light the car felt, how much the air would move the car around. All of a sudden the feeling of being glued to the racetrack is gone. Sometimes if the suspension isn't right it can feel like that when you are on the track by yourself, which is bad. I've had that happen when we had the wrong shocks in the car—it felt like I was floating on top of the racetrack. If your car is good in the draft, it sucks right up to the car in front of you. I love drafting and I can't wait to do it again!"


You can learn more at Leilani at leilanimunter.com.  As always love me, hate me, or have a story to share e-mail me at rissmeek@aol.com


By Melissa Meek-Shields

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