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From the Speedway to Earth Day
Münter, 36, grew up lecturing her friends on recycling and dreaming of becoming a marine biologist. But she was also"an adrenaline junkie," she admits—so at 23, she started taking driving lessons at a California racing school. A local team owner soon spotted her and encouraged her to go pro. She has now racked up nine top-five finishes in NASCAR and Indy Pro races, among other series.
But despite driving fossil fuel–burning vehicles for a living, Münter remained passionate about the environment. In 2006, when she blogged about the film An Inconvenient Truth, "I got people on a NASCAR board to argue about global warming!" she says. These days she adopts an acre of rainforest for each race she enters, to offset her car's emissions. She's also discussed the need for NASCAR to switch to biofuels. And while some racing fans write her off as "that tree-hugging vegetarian hippie girl," they're also curious, especially when she approaches issues in an unexpected way—like helping the veterans group Operation Free publicize national security reasons to support clean energy.
In February, Münter dedicated a race at Daytona to The Cove, the Oscar-winning documentary about the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. When her tire blew out, she was "heartbroken." But her accident gave the TV commentator a chance to discuss her mission to save the dolphins. Afterward she could only bring herself to watch the race once. But when she did, she says, "I had to smile."
Why we need more female leaders
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