JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Mark Ruffalo had a big smile on his face as he signed ticket stubs and posed for pictures at Chicagoland Speedway. A steady stream of fans approached the actor from all angles, but he made it look as if it was a small party with a bunch of old friends.
Ruffalo felt right at home at his second NASCAR race.
"This culture is really familiar to me," he said. "These are like my people. I grew up an hour and a half away from here in Kenosha, Wisconsin. So this is my kind of family. This is what my people are like."
Ruffalo, 46, served as the grand marshal for Saturday night's Nationwide Series stop, but he also came out to support Leilani Munter in the ARCA race. Munter's PrairieGold Solar No. 66 Toyota included an ad for Ruffalo's The Solutions Project on the car.
Ruffalo and Stanford professor Mark Jacobson helped create the organization in 2011 to advocate for the transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. NASCAR has stepped up its environmental efforts over the years, and Ruffalo said he found a receptive audience at the race.
It helped that Ruffalo had the perfect spokeswoman in Munter, who has a degree in biology and drives an electric Tesla Model S off the track. Munter also has solar panels on her house, and her motto is "Never underestimate a vegetarian hippie chick with a race car."
Using a solar-based system in her pit area that is also used by the U.S. military, Munter finished 12th in the ARCA race.
"What we want to say to people and what she is a perfect example of is you know we really don't have to give up anything," Ruffalo said. "You don't have to give up NASCAR because we're moving to a carbon-free structure and infrastructure of carbon-free energy environment. You can still have those things."
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