Indy 500 fans make efforts to dump Trump
INDIANAPOLIS - A grassroots movement is afoot to oust the man who loves to fire people from his Indy 500 pace car job.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced last month that Donald Trump would drive the pace car at this year's race. The announcement was met with indifference and even some derision among Indy 500 fans.
A Facebook page entitled "We don't want Donald Trump to drive the Indy 500 pace car" has garnered over 5,000 "likes."
The creator of the page explains, "With few exceptions, the honor of driving the pace car has been reserved for those involved with motor sports or those who have become national heroes. Trump, on the other hand, is primarily a businessman whose principal businesses are self-promotion and gambling."
The choice of Trump by the Speedway has drawn sharp criticism from those upset about his recent foray into politics and what some people consider racist remarks about President Obama.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is already buzzing with the sound of testing tires for this year's Brickyard 400. But it's the friction created by Donald Trump and his role as pace car driver that everyone's talking about.
"Gosh, I don't know why not. He's an important guy and this is an important place so why not?" said Paul White, a race fan from Speedway.
"I hate to see politics get into it and that's what he's doing. That's his thing right now, politics. And it doesn't belong here," said Kathy Ivester, a race fan from California.
Trump has hinted he might make a run for the White House. He said that President Obama should not be in office, claiming he was not born in the U.S. So far 5,300 people have joined a Facebook page asking IMS to "bump Trump", saying that he's an unfortunate choice and a disgrace.
Fans call Trump a "disrespectful choice" and suggest honoring a Hoosier instead. Other suggestions include comedian Betty White.
"Give the honor to someone who deserves it - a former 500 winner, a Medal of Honor recipient, Robert Gates...anyone but the Donald," writes Steve Russo.
"Driving the Pace Car should NOT be used as a sound board for some terrible business man to spew his political aspirations. Especially with this being the 100th anniversary. The car should be driven by someone with historic ties to the race. How about one of the 4 time winners instead?" writes Chris Hughes.
The deal to bring Trump to the 500 has been in the works for months, well before he got into politics and before he raised questions about where President Obama was born.
That, and now questioning how Obama was accepted into an Ivy League school, has raised the ire of the Baptist Ministers Alliance which calls Trump a racist and says if IMS doesn't change its mind, the "greatest spectacle in racing to the greatest disgrace in racing."
Trump canceled an appearance on the Letterman show after the Hoosier native and race team owner called him a racist.
At IMS, they are counting down the days until May 29.
"We are monitoring the situation but right now he's our celebrity pace car driver," said Doug Boles, IMS. "We didn't realize that he was considering running for president,.so clearly when we offered the ride to him, it was because he was Celebrity Apprentice and Donald Trump, the celebrity that he is."
With just 25 days left until the Indy 500, IMS does not have much time if they decide to make a change. The whole point of choosing a driver from outside of the racing world is to attract non-traditional race fans. Trump has done that. The question is, is it the type of attention IMS really wants?