NASCAR racecar driver Milka Duno has always led a life in the fast lane.
As the first Latina to ever qualify for the prestigious Indianapolis 500 last year, Duno has been working tirelessly on the track to make a name for herself in a male-dominated sport.
“It’s really amazing when I think about it,” Duno told me about her success in the racecar circuit during a phone interview from Miami. “It has been something very incredible for me.”
Today, Duno, who recently finished 16th in the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at the Kansas Speedway, has ventured into two new career opportunities away from pit lane. On May 9, Duno will make her feature film debut in “Speed Racer,” based on a Japanese anime cartoon series in the ’60s. The film is directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, the creators of the “Matrix” trilogy, and stars Emile Hirsch (“Into the Wild”) and Christina Ricci (“Black Snake Moan”). In “Speed Racer,” Duno plays racecar driver Kellie Gearbox.
“[The role in “Speed Racer”] is a role that I filmed in Germany,” Duno said. “I learned so much and thank the Wachowski brothers for letting me [be] in this movie. How many people would love to be in a movie like this one?”
Simultaneous with the premiere of the movie, Duno, who was born in Caracas, Venezuela, will release a bilingual children’s book called Go Milka Go! The book depicts Duno as a racecar driving cartoon character who teaches children the importance of education.
Duno knows a bit about going to school. Along with her passion for racecar driving, Duno is also a certified naval engineer and holds four master’s degrees in organizational development, naval architecture, fishing and aquaculture and maritime business.
Duno says it was a sacrifice to move from Venezuela to the United States but one that she made because she knew she would have better opportunities in the states. Whether a young boy or girl wants to aspire to become a racecar driver, doctor or zoologist, Duno says getting an education is the key to realizing any dreams.
“The best advice I can give to kids is to go to school,” Duno said. “I want them to get inspiration from athletes. It’s my contribution to them.”