Daytona Speed Week Drives Toward 100% Renewable Energy

Stephen Smith | February 19, 2014 | Clean Transportation, Electric Vehicles, Energy Policy

This blog was co-authored by SACE Florida Director Susan Glickman.

SACE Executive Director Dr.Stephen Smith and Florida Director Susan Glickman with the Go 100% Renewable Toyota

Susan Glickman and I spent a day at Daytona International Speedway watching Leilani Munter race in the ARCA Racing Series. For those new to the car racing scene, ARCA is considered the “Farm Team” for NASCAR.  This week is ‘Speed Week’ in Daytona – the big lead-up to the Daytona 500.

Leilani Munter is a true pioneer in her field as a female driver in a profession dominated by men, and has further distinguished herself through her work to transform the racing industry by reducing its carbon footprint. In fact, she has been dubbed the “carbon free girl” and her tag line is “Never underestimate a vegetarian hippie chick in a race car.”

The event we attended was sponsored by The Solutions Project, a group founded by actor Mark Ruffalo, financier Marco Krapels and Stanford scientist Mark Jacobson. You may know Mark Ruffalo from his famously green role as the Hulk in The Avengers series.  Ruffalo has turned his considerable star power to the issue of renewable energy deployment.  Building on Stanford scientists Mark Jacobson’s research, The Solutions Project has outlined a path for the U.S. to completely transition to renewable energy by the year 2050.  On their website you can view a customized energy plan for each state that would enable them to make the transition to wind, water, and solar power.

Dr. Stephen Smith with The Solutions Project co-founder, actor Mark Ruffalo

The Solutions Project operates using the background of each of their co-founders, a “powerful combination of science + business + culture” to promote the clean energy transition.  Sunday’s event at the Daytona track was a great example of these three forces working together.  The crowd was an eclectic mix of attendees from various fields, from efficient lighting design to solar financing, and we met with Leilani Munter and saw her Venturini Motorsports No. 55 Go 100% Renewable Toyota.

Susan Glickman with Leilani Munter

Munter has a particular interest in transitioning the racing industry away from dirty fossil fuels and towards renewable sources. She was the first driver to make a commitment to being carbon neutral, and adopts an acre of rainforest to offset her carbon output from each race. Both Formula One and NASCAR have embraced ethanol, but the ARCA series – in which Leilani races – has yet to embrace the use of biofuels.  She is a champion of Electric Vehicle technology off the track by driving a Tesla Model S and recently installing solar panels on her North Carolina home to charge the vehicle with renewable energy.

SACE and the Solutions Project are exploring ways to collaborate in the Southeast as we continue the transition from high risk dirty fuels to clean renewable energy by building a broad base of support in all sectors of our society.

If you support the transition to 100% renewable energy, click here to support solar development in our nation’s largest untapped solar market.

Stephen Smith
Dr. Stephen A. Smith has over 35 years of experience affecting positive change for the environment. Since 1993, Dr. Smith has led the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) as…
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