NASCAR driver Nolan Wilson Races to Rescue!September 16th, 2008
NASCAR driver Nolan Wilson has been racing for over 15 years, and he plans to make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut in October at Martinsville Speedway. But, when Nolan's not racing out on the speedway, you can find him advocating for creatures great and small. ALDF recently had the opportunity to chat with Nolan about what fuels his passion for animal protection, why he loves racing fans, and what his feline co-pilot, Pipet, is meowing about these days.
What first sparked your interest in animal protection issues?
I’ve always been an animal lover, going back to when I was a kid. Wild, domestic, across the board--I’ve always had a soft spot for animals. Anytime I heard stories about animals in unfit living situations, cases of abuse, dogfighting, cruel hunting practices—the accumulation of everything you read about makes you stop and say “What can be done?”
What has motivated you to bring ALDF to NASCAR?
I’m sure there are lots of people like me out there—people who have a big heart for all the creatures who can’t defend themselves. When you hear disturbing stories about animal cruelty, the tendency is to try not to think about it—it hurts to think about it.
Recently, a good friend of mine started educating me about the work of organizations out there helping animals. I started doing some investigating on my own and found out about some great groups out there, like ALDF, who seek justice for animals. It rang a bell in my head—this kind of partnership could be a great way to bring animal concerns to NASCAR fans. NASCAR is in a position to present new ways of thinking and new attitudes to a huge audience. When you start introducing new ideas about protecting animals and put them in a fun setting, like at a race, I really think people will be energized to get involved and do more.
How are you using your influence as a successful NASCAR driver to advocate for animal rights?
I’m not Jeff Gordon yet!—but I’m proud of my accomplishments this far in my career. As my success in the sport increases, my stage broadens, which gives me more and more opportunities to create public awareness about how people can help. Fans idolize and are influenced by NASCAR drivers. What better way to change their perspective about animals than to encourage them to see that compassion is cool! If someone steps up to start a revolution, the fans will follow!
What do you like about ALDF?
Aside from all the great legal work, I really like the fact ALDF is educating students and pushing to change law school curriculums. It will have a lasting impact on the way that people treat and see animals. If we start with students, then down the road, advocating for animals will be accepted and won’t be such a fight for people in generations to come. It’s great that ALDF provides a structure to support that work.
Specifically, what animal issue really gets under your skin?
Bluntly, I’d say all of them! But a few that really get me nuts—anything to do with cruelty, stories of abuse—that stuff gets under my skin. Neglected animals at a shelter or a breeder, dogfighting, anything involving the wrongful killing of animals makes me crazy mad. And I’m not big on the use of animals for testing products—those products are for us! They should be tested on us!
What type of punishment would you choose for animal abusers?
It goes back to an eye-for-an-eye…. The heartless people who abuse animals should receive the same abuse that they deliver. Take the stories of overcrowded shelters with terrible living conditions—the people running those shelters should be packed up in dark rooms, deprived of care, and subject to the same kind of neglect. I think we’d see a lot less animal abuse if the punishments really fit the crimes.
In regards to animal rights, what would you like your fans to know?
There’s a lot people can change with minimal effort, and it leads not only to a better lifestyle for people but also for animals. Learning more about animal issues this year has changed the way I live--I’m buying more eco-friendly stuff, cutting down on some of the foods I eat, and I feel healthier—it’s good for you, for the environment, and for animals. And I’m a pretty stubborn guy—if I can change, anyone can.
Ignoring the wrongdoings is the easiest thing to do, but it doesn’t make them go away. If you have the time, you need to contact some of these great animal rights organizations like ALDF to find out what they’re doing and offer your help. If you don’t have time, make a donation to support the people who do have the time, to make sure animals get the protection they deserve.
Does your cat Pipet, who you adopted as a stray, ever tag along on rides with you now?
I had a special race seat made, but I’m having a serious problem getting a helmet made with holes for her ears! (laughs)
I’m kidding, I’m kidding! She’ll go for a ride in a golf cart, but in general she doesn’t love being behind the wheel. Pipet isn’t much of a fan of anything relating to horsepower, but she’s a big advocate for Cat Power!
Animal abuse really grinds Nolan's gears —that's why he's joined thousands of others in signing ALDF's Animal Bill of Rights. Please help us send the message to our legislators by signing the petition today.