*Donald Trump said Thursday he will not be the celebrity pace-car driver for the May 29 Indianapolis 500, calling it “inappropriate” since “he may be announcing shortly his intention” to run for president. He also said it would be impossible to fulfill the required practice sessions that occur late in race week because of his busy schedule.
The decision shuts down a potential controversy that threatened to overshadow the 100-year anniversary of the first 500.
As previously reported, some race fans complained Trump was too divisive to serve as the celebrity pace car driver after his recent questioning of whether President Obama was born outside the United States and whether he was qualified to attend two Ivy League schools.
Those questions led to a growing movement to replace the real estate mogul a month after he was chosen.
State Rep. Jeb Bardon, a Democrat who represents the area around the historic 2.5-mile oval, kicked off the push last week with a floor speech in the Indiana Legislature. Local attorney Michael Wallack took the next step by starting a Facebook page that grew to more 17,000 followers since April 27.
“What I really think this does is demonstrate that a grass-roots movement of people can have an impact, that you don’t have to stand up and shout to drown out opposing voices,” Wallack said after the announcement. “You can make yourself be heard on an issue and accomplish something.”
A replacement is expected to be named later this month.