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This includes her crusade to bring sustainability, as well as vegan diets, to the auto-racing world. I was confused as to why our society would decide it was OK to keep dogs and cats as pets but that other animals — with just as much personality — could be slaughtered for humans to eat. There are three things that give me hope for our future: Solar power, electric cars and veganism. GSB: How did you get into racecar driving? Jumping out of an airplane — check! I still want to scuba dive at the Great Barrier Reef. And driving a racecar was on the bucket list. I am not a good spectator — I like to participate, not watch.
And I was drawn to the idea of going fast. There were about 40 drivers in the class — I was the only woman — and I became the quickest car on the track. After college I was doing a bunch of different things, including working as a photo double, standing in for Catherine Zeta-Jones. The next week I started approaching sports marketing companies and about nine months later, I found a sponsor and ran my first race — Saturday night short track racing.
I challenged for the lead in my first race and became hooked. Being the only female was certainly part of the motivation for me. GSB: So I get the bucket list aspect of driving a racecar. But how did you, environmental activist, justify to yourself the insanely high carbon footprint of auto racing? Because in the environmental movement, in the animal rights movement, we are always preaching to the converted.
We have to bring it to where they live. I also raced open wheel in Indy Lights. One guy got pissed off that I was promoting "An Inconvenient Truth" on my website and specifically about Al Gore, called me names, said I was spewing "left-wing propaganda. By the end of the thread, people were actually discussing climate change. A lightbulb went off as I realized I could be a bridge between the race fans and the environmentalists and all of a sudden my career change from biology to racing made sense.
Racing gave me a voice. How did your environmental-movement friends react to your being a racecar driver? Of course, I share their concerns about carbon footprint, so in I made the commitment to adopt and protect an acre of rainforest for every Looking for all natural hippie chick I run to offset the carbon footprint of my car.
After sharing this publicly, I got this great comment from a classic NASCAR fan: He needed to get his wife a birthday present and, after reading my story, he decided to adopt and acre of rainforest to protect in her name. GSB: That is too cool.
That was the case for a lot of the world, not just racing. Great story: We were at a race in Kansas City. I brought vegan chicken wings from a sports bar to the team at the track and they were blown away; they all loved them and some of them have even started to eat the vegan meat substitutes instead of real meat after tasting how good it was.
The companies that are on my cars are companies that are like-minded: renewable energy like solar and wind companies; LED lighting; recycling companies. GSB: Which reflects your values. I read that your home is powered by solar panels, features a gallon rainwater collection system, solar and LED lights and, of course, has a vegetable garden.
But I digress. Back to finding mission-appropriate sponsors…. After the BP Oil Spill ina multi-million dollar sponsorship opportunity came to me for an open wheel circuit. But my heart dropped when I found out that the CEO wanted me to dial back my criticism of the oil industry. So I had to walk away. And I have not given up. My next thing is to get sponsors for a vegan-themed car and to have a tent giving away vegan food at the race.
Physically I was OK from the crash, but it turned out that I had pretty severe carbon monoxide poisoning. I was lucky that I was in the wreck or I would have never seen the doctor and been diagnosed. I do drive my Tesla Model S to and from all my races and the race fans love my Tesla; they often ask me at the track if they can see it. GSB : "Blackfish" being the documentary about the harsh treatment of orca whales at Seaworld and other places like it, correct? He came all the way to Talladega to cheer for me even though he was already very ill with cancer.
So sad. I saw the movie — it basically changed the way the Seaworlds of the world do business. GSB: Talk about "Racing Extinction," the documentary about how humans are causing the sixth mass extinction in recorded history — with the fifth extinction being the dinosaurs. You were in that film. My role was to drive a highly modified Tesla with a very powerful projector on it which allowed us to project images of species that are now extinct or going extinct due to human activity.
We projected on to buildings like the Empire State Building and the United Nations building in New York to show to masses of people what is happening. The car also has electroluminescent paint and a high-definition FLIR Forward Looking Infra-Red camera with a very special color filter on it that comes out of the front of the car and has the ability to make methane and carbon dioxide visible to the human eye. This is not a plug Looking for all natural hippie chick Apple, by the way.
In the U. GSB: That is something that we must improve upon. When and where will be able to see that film? A lightbulb went off as I realized I could be a bridge between the race fans and the environmentalists. Green Sports Blog. Show comments for this story. View the discussion thread. More on this topic Sports Tesla Automobiles. Share this article Twitter Facebook Linkedin. Lew Blaustein President. More by This Author. Using data to turn the fashion industry into a force for good. Inside the Sustainable Sport Index.
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