It is not my nature to use this platform to pontificate on social/political issues. But there is one that is currently hitting a bit too close to home: The selection of Donald Trump to drive the pace car for the historic 100th anniversary running of the Indianapolis 500.
As a race fan I was deeply disappointed that someone with no connection to motorsports in general, the Indy 500, or the state of Indiana was selected as pace car driver for this historic occasion. Any other year (except the 100th running in 2016) would have been acceptable. But for this race the pace car driver needs to be A.J. Foyt. Apart from being the first four-time winner of the 500, he won his first during the 50th anniversary running and has been a competitor at Indy for 54 years! Regardless of what you think of the man (and I’m more of a Mario guy myself), there is no one more deserving to drive the pace car this year.
But apart from that, since the selection of the Donald Trump of pace car driver, he has gone from celebrity/possible presidential candidate to full blown presidential candidate. My opinion has always been that politicians – regardless of affiliation – need to be kept out of sports. Nothing divides a population like political topics, and the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 needs to be spared of the foul stench of politics.
There is a growing movement of fans from all political affiliations the remove Mr. Trump from his pace car duties and replace him with a more suitable selection. On Facebook there is a dedicated page to bump Trump. People are contacting, Chevrolet, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indycar Series sponsor Izod to voice their displeasure.
In my opinion the worst thing that will happen if Donald is relieved of his duties is that he will bad mouth the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at every turn. This will bring GREATER publicity to the 500 than having him drive the pace car. The general attitude toward Trump leans to the negative side of the meter – I think IMS will be viewed as a bit of a folk-hero if they say to Mr. Trump: “You’re fired!”
IMS Public Relations Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Update 5/16/11: As most of you know, Donald Trump bowed out of driving the pace car citing time constraints due to his presidential campaign. A.J. Foyt was selected to be the pace car driver. On May 16th, Donald Trump announced that he would not be running for President.