Leilani was born and raised in Minnesota. She holds a bachelors degree in Biology specializing in Ecology, Behavior and Evolution from the University of California San Diego. While attending college she worked as a volunteer at a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center. She started racing cars in 2001 and has spent the last ten years working her way up the NASCAR ranks. During this time Leilani also worked as a race instructor and correspondent for NASCAR.
In 2004 she gained the attention of the racing world when she qualified 4th and finished 7th at Texas Motor Speedway in the ROMCO Super Late Model Series. In 2007 Leilani became the fourth woman in history to race in the Indy Pro Series, the developmental league of IndyCar.
Leilani purchases an acre of rainforest for every race she runs to offset her carbon footprint and has been a long time vegetarian and eco activist. In 2008, as an Ambassador of the National Wildlife Federation, Leilani became politically active in the legislative fight for the environment. She made several trips to Capitol Hill to speak with Congress on behalf of climate issues with climate change scientists from the National Wildlife Federation. In June 2008 she spoke at a Climate Action Rally on the steps of Capitol Hill alongside Senators Barbara Boxer, Joe Lieberman, and John Kerry.