Today at the Talladega Superspeedway, driver Leilani Munter is pulling off a feat not seen since Jonah did it: She’s taking a ride inside a whale. Leilani, a NASCAR superstar and dedicated animal advocate, is competing in a Blackfish-themed race car.
— Oceanic Preservation Society / OPS (@OP_Society) May 1, 2014
Leilani had her car turned into a likeness of SeaWorld’s tormented orca Tilikum in order to inform millions of race fans about the cruelty of cramming these powerful, majestic marine mammals into tiny tanks and forcing them to perform confusing tricks to get food. Leilani nicknamed her car Tilly.
Top-notch PETA supporter (and our Norfolk, Virginia, headquarters’ namesake) Sam Simon paid the entry fees so that, alongside all the product endorsements, race fans would see one truly important message: Orcas belong in the wild.
PETA was also able to give a small donation toward the fees, and PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk joined Leilani at Talladega to support her and the orcas she’s hoping to free.
She’s already having an impact. Leilani reports that she’s been asked by numerous people in the racing garage, “What’s Blackfish?” And she intends to help Tilly make the biggest splash possible.
“Right now we only have funding to run the car for the one race at Talladega, so I plan to make the most of it and put the Blackfish car in victory lane for Tilikum, Morgan, Lolita, and all the orcas that are suffering in captivity,” says Leilani. “It would get a lot of attention for the movement as a woman has never won an ARCA race or in any of the upper levels of NASCAR stock car racing. I know the cetacean activist movement is riding with me and Tilly and I am so honored to be able to carry this message for all of us.”
You can help carry the message, too. Simply join PETA in tweeting for Tilly and all captive orcas using the hashtag #EmptyTheTanks.