The Umlauted Racing Hotty, Leilani Münter, of stunt-driving, dolphin swimming, tree hugging and Indy Pro Series driving fame, goes on record with pressdog.
Check it out for Leilani on life so far in the IPS, what was behind the Kentucky IPS post-wreck tirade (as confessed to in her Leilani Blog), the sizzle of the umlaut and the key to becoming a race car driver (it'll shock ya!).
Plus Leilani makes a shameless effort to become sidepod worthy. Thanks for caring enough to suck up to me. Everybody, grab your umlauts! Props to Leilani and Dan Levy for these 100% real, non-fiction answers.
pressdog: Give us a little background on how (and why) you jumped from stock cars to the Indy Pro Series.
Leilani: I am a race car driver before anything else and I am happy to drive any race car I can get into. I had an open- wheel team call me earlier this year to see if I was interested and of course I jumped at the chance. After I tested, I landed sponsorship from SMART Papers to run IPS.
pressdog: What's the biggest adjustment you've had to make going from a stock car to an IPS car?
Leilani: The cars are completely different animals. Obviously the same principal applies but I have to learn the different “feel” for the open-wheel cars vs. the heavy stock cars.
pressdog: What got you into racing in the first place?
Leilani: I was a speed demon from the moment I got behind the wheel. As time went on, I began to pursue racing more seriously. (More back ground here.)
pressdog: Do fans, especially male fans, get a little freaky now and then? You know, stalker-ish? Something you need to watch out for?
Leilani: I haven’t had anything too weird, mostly just sweet people wishing me good luck. I am so thankful for the fans because without them I would not be in a race car and I will never forget that.
pressdog: What has been the reaction from female fans? Sarah Fisher and Danica Patrick seem to draw a lot of little girls. Are they showing up for your autograph too?
Leilani: I get lots of little girls in my autograph lines and I usually tell them to ask their parents to buy them a go-kart. I get letters from lots of housewives too, that are race car drivers on the inside. It’s really sweet, I love reading the letters.
pressdog: The gender issue -- What's your approach to it? Make a big deal out of it? Small deal? Something in between? How do you deal with being a woman in a male-dominated profession?
pressdog: The gender issue is just there. I don’t address it but it is a question that is always asked. The truth of the matter is, as female drivers we benefit from the additional media coverage we can offer sponsors and we have to make the most of it.
pressdog: Do people ask you a bunch of Hollywood insider questions like "do yo have Catherine Zeta-Jones on the speed dial"? (Note: Leilani was once a stunt double for CZT.)
Leilani: Sometimes. They want to hear some Hollywood dirt. The truth is that Catherine was always really nice to me, so I don’t have any dirt to spill!
pressdog: What would you say are the top few qualities that someone has to have to be a good race car driver?
Leilani: Focus, determination, and persistence.
pressdog: To what do you attribute your success so far?
Leilani: I never gave up.
pressdog: If you weren't driving race cars, what would you like to be doing for a living?
Leilani: A marine biologist, scuba diving instructor, conservationist or computer programmer at Initech. (Readers must know the movie Office Space to understand this one.) (pressdog note: GOD, I love Office Space.)
pressdog: Are you hyper competitive all the time or can you switch it off and on?
Leilani: I can switch it on and off. When I am playing games with my friends I am playing to have fun. When I am racing, it is serious business.
pressdog: Biggest challenge you see to becoming a big-deal open-wheel driver and winning the Indy 500, etc.
Leilani: Sponsorship. I’ve got a championship team behind me in IPS and I believe I have the talent to succeed. Sponsorship is the biggest challenge for most race car drivers.
pressdog: What is the deal with the umlaut? Do you get a lot of attention for the double-dots? Does that mean your last name sound kind of like "Moon-ter"?
Ms. Umlaut: Yes, it sounds like Moon-ter. My father is from Germany and I like my umlaut!
pressdog: Speak German? Can you bust it off in German?
Leilani: I took German in high school and college, I can understand more than I can speak. I have spent some time in Germany , it’s a beautiful country. But unfortunately I have not had the chance to practice my German in a long time so I have forgotten a lot of it.
pressdog: When you were having your self-described "temper tantrum" next to your car after wrecking in the Kentucky IPS race, were you swearing (be honest)? Where did that display come from?
Leilani: I plead the fifth. I was just really frustrated because I was having such a good run and I was going to the front. I had gone from 13th to 6th in like nine laps. I had just caught the guys racing for 4th and 5th and was setting up to pass when they touched wheels. So it was just a really disappointing moment for me.
Leilani: I hope to run IPS full time next year with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Of course, that goes back to your previous question, whether I get to do that is dependent on sponsorship.
pressdog: Is it true pressdog.com is your fav race site? I checked out your blog. Is that 100% Leilani-written or do you have people who help you? It's pretty kicking.
Leilani: Definitely, I read pressdog daily, I can’t get enough of it. Yes my blog is 100% written by me. I am thinking of writing a book and calling it “Pressdog Fan” in honor of you. But only if you make me Sidepod Worthy so I can hang with the cool kids like Wheldon, Dixon,, and Fisher. Then and only then, Pressdog.
So let it be written, so let it be done. For responding to me and more so for having a sense of humor, Leilani is sidepod worthy. FYI, LM, it's pressdog, all lower case. The non-cap is sort of my version of the umlaut. Maybe I should change to pressdög. Hmmmmmm.