Really? Donald Trump as pace car driver?

April 6, 2011
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Granted, the choices made for Indianapolis 500 pace car drivers over the years have been all over the place.

From the who-can-argue-with-that choices of Gen. Colin Powell and Lance Armstrong to the shameless media pandering of last year's Robin Roberts, from the star-power picks of Patrick Dempsey and Morgan Freeman to the "huh?" choices of Elaine Irwin Mellencamp and Josh Duhamel (bet you have to do a Google search to place that name), you couldn't find a more ecclectic group anywhere this side of reality TV.

Which brings us to Donald Trump.

Trump has been named driver of the 2011 pace car for this year's race, another victory for the shameless self-promoter.

And this isn't just any Indy 500. It's the 100th anniversary race.

Rather than give more ink to Trump, I submit for your approval a short list of people who would have been better choices to take the honory lap.

1. Just about anyone.

Your thoughts? Are you happier than I am with the choice of Trump? Who would you rather see given this uniquely Indy honor?

  • I agree with Lou
    Can I add...

    2. Just about anyone else Lou might have accidentally not considered in #1.
  • Scratch that...
    #2. Charlie Sheen
  • Not really sure who else you are considering Lou. Are there many other people who are more recognizeable than The Donald? Love him or hate him, he is a marketers dream, and what is racing about, but marketing? It is show business more so than any other sport. While you could argue there are some who may be more appropriate for the 100th Anniverary, Foyt and Mario come to mind, I would argue there are not many more famous you could find.

  • Travesty
    There have been so many changes out there in the past few years to, I assume, up the hip quotient and/or bring in new fans.

    This choice can't be categorized as hip nor even mildly interesting. It's downright lame. On the 100th anniversary there are so many options that could better honor the tradition of the 500. There are so many legendary drivers still with us, so many still connected to the golden years of the Speedway.

    Those in charge should be pulling out all the stops for this year's festivities. This choice doesn't bode well for what we might see. Is Justin Bieber the heir apparent to Jim Neighbors?
  • A difference
    I reject Indyman's argument that racing is "showbiz" and therefore it makes sense to tap Donald Trump as the pace car driver. This marketing trap is one big reason that open wheel racing has a hard time attracting fans.
    Racing is a sport and, whether we want to admit it, its currency is speed, daring and danger. For nearly a century, or at least until IndyCar adopted uniform specs, the heady mix of technology and speed drew characters with guts the public could identify with and paid to see in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
    You could look just about anywhere in Gasoline Alley then to find the genesis of this spectacle. Now, sadly, marketers sitting around a conference table breathing musty air nod at each other as they choose Donald Trump in yet another vain attempt to draw attention to the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. I don't know which is more bankrupt, Indyman: Trump or the Speedway's marketing plan.
    I say take off the spec-racing shackles, allow creative engineers and wrenches to dream big, and then put their creations into the hands of talented drivers who dare to go fast. Sure, it'll cost a few more bucks, but pretty soon somebody's gonna realize you can't cut your way to prosperity. Invest and people will again beat a path to the Speedway and all that associates with it.
  • Trump is a joke
    I recognize that IndyCar is trying to make a big splash, but having Trump drive the pace car is a waste. For the 100th celebration, IndyCar can do better.
  • No problem with Trump
    With all of the soap opera stars they bring to the festivities Donald Trump is definitely a notch above them.
  • Perfect Marketing Sense
    The choice of Donald Trump makes perfect marketing sense. Like it or not dire race fans, this self-proclaimed marketing mogul can bring nothing but good attention to the Indy 500, which it so desparately needs.
  • Donald Trump -- A GREAT Choice
  • Trump as Choice
    Somehow I don't see fans of "The Donald" making their way to the Indy 500. Perhaps this is a political move for the Hulman-George family since Trump is considering a run for President?
      Brad Stephens
      • You don't get it
        It's a publicity stunt...just like all the rest. The IRL can't get publicity with racing so it has to make a mockery of Indy tradition to try and get eyeballs to watch something no one wants.

      • spelling error
        Stevens that is!
      • Trump
        I'm assuming Trump has a driver who takes him everywhere he needs to go. This begs the question, will he even know how to drive the pace car?
      • Better Yet!
        Sarah Palin
      • Seriously??
        Does 'the Donald' even know HOW to drive?? I would have chosen one of the retired drivers who had the most 500 wins or most wins in the IRL. Even David Letterman would have made more sense since he has been involved with racing for years. How about Joanne Woodward in Paul's memory. Alex Zanardi would have been a WOW. I truly can think of a lot of better choices.
        Donald with a helmet on that precious comb-over - O-M-G!!
      • With Jump Into Politics Trump A Terrible Choice
        Under the best of circumstances, Donald Trump would be no more than a lame choice. With him sticking his toes into the the race for the Republican Presidential nomination and his joining the "Birther" movement, Trump is a boneheaded choice. I do not care if one is a Republican or a Democrat, a conservative or a liberal. All that matters is that you are a fan of open wheel racing and the Indianapolis 500. This is a move that will turn off a lot of fans of the 500, which is the last thing Indycar racing needs. Lou is correct.
      • Pace Car
        Instead of replacing Jim Neighbours with Justin Bieber, let's just let Bieber drive the pace car. If he can play in the NBA Celebrity Game, he can surely turn left a few times.
      • Rodeo Clown
        While it is true that The Donald attracts a lot of publicity for himself, it's usually only when it benefits the The Donald.

        Randy B. came from the Rodeo Circuit to head the Indy Racing League. The Donald is a rodeo clown at best. They should have gone back into Indy history to find someone who better represents the 100 years of racing at the brickyard.

        I can only imagine how the New York media will note that the great Donald traveled out to be with the "yahoos" of Indianapolis and its surrounding cornfields.

        Someone ought to say, "You're Fired," about this decision.
      • Can he even legally drive?
        I want to know if he even has a driver's license? I'm sure his limo driver does...
      • In defense
        Choosing a two-time bankrupt reality star is terrible and embarrassing (typical for Indiana) but in the Speedway's defense, universal celebs don't really exist anymore. Betty White is probably the only famous person who doesn't make half the population go "who?!"
      • And
        A former driver would be interesting only to dire-hard fans (who are probably already going to the race). I guess if the goal is publicity, Donald's your guy. I don't know if that's sadder for Hoosiers or our nation as a whole.
        • Makes Some Sense
          Mr. Trump appears to have connections with Izod. He probably will promote the heck out of the Indianapolis 500, he does have lots of celeb friends, might even help IndyCar get a race to New York, and he is loved by NBC (presumably the future home of the Race). So on the face of it a bad choice (should have been either AJ, Mario, or the oldest living 500 winner or starter) but the possible benefits are huge.
          • Sweet Dreams
            The Donald bought this ride as a political stunt....and the poor, broke and dumb speedway ate it up hook, line and sinker. You ever try and get a deeply set hook out of a gullet?
          • Trump
            The NBC connection is the main reason for having Trump as the Pace car driver. Indycar is desperate to get out of it's Versus contract and hook up with NBC, which is a mainstream network as opposed to Versus which is watched and available to nearly no one.
          • Trump
            This makes me sick!!!!!

            Find out who made this decision and shun them.
          • Worst choice ever
            In selecting the Donald, Roping Randy has loss touch with the tradition of the Indianapolis 500. Lousy choice. Big mistake. AJ, Bobby Unser, Big Al, Bobby Rahal...heck, even Tom Sneva would all be fitting pace car drivers for the 100th Anniversary of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

            Randy, here's your out. Make Donald take a physical and flunk him. Then go out, be true to this incredible century of racing and select a former 500 winner as your pace car driver. We true race fans who've been to the Indy 500 since back when you were roping steers would respect and appreciate this correct gesture of recognition.

            Personally, I'd like to see Mario in a 2nd pace car breaking down in turn 3 to start the race.
          • Gotta love this guy:
            Tony Dungy. Indy connection with a national presence as a bestselling author, commentator, and good guy.
          • Terrible Choice
            I agree--this is a terrible choice. It is cheapening the race by pandering to a network-related choice. This guys is nothing but a shameless self-promoter.
          • Unconscionable
            Especially in light of his current foray into national politics and demagoguery, this selection is very difficult to justify.
          • Come On
            Name the last time a former driver, great or otherwise, was the official pace car driver at the Indy 500. Come on, I dare you. Not saying is never has happened, but it definitely is the exception, rather than the rule. The 500 pace car driver is usually some sort of celebrity wannabe or has been. Of course, there have been good choices, such as Chuck Yeager, a true American hero. Also, I really don't think Randy B. had much say in this choice, more likely it came from the IMS management.
            • DumpTheTrump
              Donald Trump you are a powerful man. Your checkbook and that of your friends in the form of sponsorship money is welcome to the INDY series. Your hair, your arrogantance, your self promotion, can stay home. The INDY 500 100th Anniversary is a very special year. The driver of the pace car should be someone that represents the class and respect the Speedway has demanded for all those years. Someone who has represents defeat and triumph the Speedway has demanded of all those who have driven it. Someone that represents all those that have given their lifes for racing which the Speedway has taken from us. This is why Alex Zarnardi comes to mind.. Donald Trump show some class move to the passage seat and guve the drivers seat to Alex. Let him drive you around and the lean a field of his peers. Let Alex fulfill a dream for a sport, a track, a race he gave so much for "his legs" Be a hero Donald as their will bot be a dry eye at the Speedway!!! The INDY 500 is a class act and the fans more so... Here's your greatest opportunity to have and show some of your own to the world!!
            • ALEX ZANARDI!!!!
              Alex Zanardi should be driving that pace car, and that's a story worth writing about....there's even a Facebook page to push for it. He deserves it and what a fitting tribute to this milestone year for the 500.
            • my letter to Indycar
              To whom it concern,

              I am writing to express my dismay at your choice for this year's Indy 500 Pace Car Driver.

              This year I'll be traveling over 2000 miles to attend the race, as I do every year. I will be spending thousands of dollars on flights, tickets, meals, and accommodations.

              Shouldn't the position of Pace Car Driver be an honor granted to someone of exceptional character, honor, or distinction? Could it not be, at least, a former driver who'd risked his/her life in years past for our thrills?

              When it comes to personal attributes, Donald J. Trump possesses none of these qualities. His many notable accomplishments include multiple bankruptcies, serial marriage, and awful television appearances. One would be hard-pressed to find someone whose life better exemplified the sad truism: "there's a sucker born every minute."

              To be be blunt, the choosing of such a buffoon calls into question the judgement of the executive management at Indycar. Wasn't there an astronaut, scientist, or heroic fireman available? Does every single aspect of the race have to have to be cynically based on how much publicity will be generated?

              If so, perhaps I can provide a suggestion to the PR department for this year's trackside television coverage: have an "inside look" at the technology used to keep Mr. Trump's hairpiece in place as he speeds around the track, leading the field to the green in what used to be called "The Greatest Spectacle In RACING."

            • goin' down
              Nothing is sacred anymore. Tradition means little at any historic venue. Trump is the
              paragon of decay. Let him pace the race.
              Nothing new around here. Shameless people
            • Couldn't be more wrong
              I've Sponsored a former 500 winner a few years after he won in 2004. I can't tell you who the pace car driver has been for any of the Indy 500's. I can tell you that I won't forget Trump being the pace car driver this year. That's good for Trump and that's good for the 500!
            • Here you go then
              OK, 28 times, the last was Fitipaldi in 08.


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