September 28, 2010
By Rebecca Gladden
Last month in this column, Disabled Marine Has NASCAR Dream, I introduced you to Scott Bates, a disabled former Marine with a remarkable talent for designing race car paint schemes.
Scott’s car renderings are impressive, but all the more so because of his severe physical limitations. Catastrophically disabled from progressive multiple sclerosis, he can no longer walk or use his hands and is confined to a wheelchair. Scott uses a computer mouse that he controls with the movement of his head for his precision graphic design work.
An unassuming man who gives freely of his time and talent, it has been Scott’s long-held dream to see one of his designs on a real race car. Now, thanks to the generosity of driver Leilani Münter and her ARCA team partners, a goal once considered unreachable is about to be realized.
This Thursday, Scott will be trackside at Kansas Speedway to watch Münter drive her No. 59 Dodge Charger featuring a paint scheme he designed. Münter is competing in the ARCA Racing Series Kansas Lottery 150 with new sponsors Operation Free and Sturman Industries. The race will be televised live on SPEED at 5 PM EST.
The pairing of Bates, a veteran of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, and Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations dedicated to securing America with clean energy, was “written in the stars,” according to Münter, a dedicated environmentalist. The new sponsors and car design provide her with the perfect platform to promote the “Race to Energy Independence” theme, while helping Scott achieve his inspiring vision of designing for a competitive race team.
“I couldn’t have dreamed of a better group to bring the clean energy message to the racing world,” said Münter. “Partnering with Operation Free and Sturman Industries is great symmetry for my efforts to promote environmental responsibility and pollution reduction.”
The car Bates designed is a striking shade of blue and features Operation Free’s logo and images of clean energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels.
Operation Free is an advocacy campaign of the Truman National Security Project, so it’s only fitting that events in Kansas will kick off this Wednesday at the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri, at a town hall meeting about Leilani’s racing partners and America’s need for energy independence. The No. 59 show car will be on hand and Scott will meet with the media to talk about his design work.
Bates will then be a guest of the No. 59 team to see his dream fully realized as Münter takes the green flag for Thursday’s ARCA race.
In testing at Kansas last week, Leilani was 16th-fastest on the speed chart with an average speed of 160.724 mph, though the team did not make a mock qualifying run.
“We continued to loosen up the car throughout the day. We made a gear change and when we went back out in the afternoon, we were 8th quick with our race set up, which felt great,” said Münter. “To be right up there with two Cup drivers and the ARCA regulars running for the championship after having been out of a car for so long felt pretty good.”
As for Scott, he’s preparing to head to Kansas with a mixture of excitement and butterflies as he anticipates seeing one of his car designs on the racetrack for the very first time. He will continue to design cars for Münter as she pursues her racing career in ARCA and NASCAR, and he hopes to attract the attention of more race teams looking for graphic design work.
“Being able to design a stock car for a real-world application was something I thought would never happen — not only to design the car, but to be involved in its unveiling and to be present to see it raced almost approaches the unreal to me,” Scott said. “Getting to do so for a driver like Leilani Münter makes it even more special. She is a class act all the way.”