Success story features Leah Missbach Day, ecoAmerica Board of Directors member
NASCAR fans are focusing their attention on clean energy. At the heart of their interest is consumer choice and family values. Leah Missbach Day, a clean energy enthusiast and an ecoAmerica Board member, seized an opportunity to amplify this message on the racetrack when she met Leilani Münter at Chicago Speedway. Leilani was racing for Prairie Gold Solar (a clean energy investing company) and promoting clean energy. Day imagined the potential to access many more people with this unlikely pairing of a petro-fueled sport alongside good environmental practices.
After researching the values and priorities of NASCAR fans, the “Energy Freedom: Your Family-Your Choice” race car was born.
As Americans we should have the right to choose where we get our energy. Utilities are getting a little nervous about people choosing clean energy. This car lets Americans know they have the choice - that they can choose clean energy for their families.
Leah and Leilani teamed up with The Solutions Project to help bring clean energy to NASCAR racing through two campaigns. During the race at Kansas Speedway they raised awareness for the small town of Greensburg, KS that was devastated by a tornado that knocked out much of the city’s infrastructure and took many lives. Then, for NACSAR’s big race week in Daytona, Energy Freedom took aim at Florida. “The Sunshine State” has a law that restricts residents from selling energy back into the grid when generating more than necessary using cost-effective, clean choices. Their campaign aired "Energy Freedom’s" patriotic colors to millions of TV viewers with a public service announcement featuring US Armed Forces officer LTC Bill Garland. The spot highlighted how solar technology, founded by our military, powered the "Energy Freedom" pit (exemplifying one way to compensate for a sport that runs on fossil fuel).
Featuring the “Energy Freedom” car at the Kansas City Speedway deepened the message of choice and freedom, and was a particularly meaningful moment to highlight after Greensburg rebuilt itself entirely with clean energy. Greensburg residents now boast lower utility bills and a sense of community pride for having the foresight to work together to make clean energy a reality. One of the local families, who work in the oil industry, now enjoys a home that is nearly running off the grid.
Leilani understands the impact of reaching an unlikely audience with her sport today. “I really like what I have going in stock cars, where I am not preaching to the choir,'' Münter said. “My whole goal is to bring these messages about the environment and clean energy to the place where you least expect it.''
Does our freedom of choice carry certain responsibilities with it? Leah and Leilani think it does. The pits in these races were run on solar power. And, today NASCAR Green is making great strides running their tracks across the nation with Sun Edison’s solar energy technology. They also have cut fuel emissions and invested in other new technologies that reduce their carbon footprint.
“Energy Freedom” continues to live on with guys like Max Halkenhaeuser, a 16-year-old fan of Münter’s who successfully petitioned the 1st electric vehicle charge-up station in his hometown of Denville, N.J. Inspired by Leilani, Max set to work and was rewarded when she showed up for a visit to take Max for a ride in her electric car. (watch Max’s reaction when Leilani drives up) .
Leilani also appears in the new documentary film Racing Extinction, the story of black markets that create mass animal extinction. She drives a specialized, modified version of a Tesla Model S in the film, which features cutting edge technology to take us behind the scenes and into dangerous black market worlds.
“Energy Freedom” has inspired millions of Americans on clean energy choice as a right for all Americans, and proved that “green” equals red, white, and blue.