Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

April 6, 2011

It’s Official: 100th Anniversary Indy 500 Pace Car Driver is ‘The Donald’

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:01 am

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in all of their infinite wisdom, decided the best choice for pace car driver to start the 100th Anniversary 500 is Donald Trump. My immediate reaction is the choice of Trump is vulgar and disrespectful and sullies the dignity of the 100th Anniversary. If A.J. Foyt can’t do it a more relevant choice might be the stars of the Euro version of Top Gear. Target demos consider that must see TV. Whoring out a 500 pace car drive this important for the likes of Trump makes me wonder how committed to the legacy of the place those running it really are.

The picture on the left shows a poignant moment in 1961, the 50th Anniversary, between Tony Hulman and Ray Harroun and a ceremonial brick. That is pure class and shows respect. If there is an afterlife and either one of those guys is getting a load of what is happening today it is likely both corpses are spinning in their graves. Compare that picture to any of the tacky gaudiness with which Trump is associated then try to tell me there is a comparison.

The ONLY way I can possibly see value in this selection is if Trump either announces that all Indy Car races including the 500 move to NBC next year as sort of a tweak to the irresponsible ‘partnership’ ESPN/ABC has neglected for over ten years (Jamie Little does not even know the difference between the 100th Anniversary and the 100th running) or that some entire season series of ‘The Apprentice’ centers around IMS and the great race. And even then I will be holding my nose.

What in the world has happened to respect for tradition, especially an anniversary as important as this one?



  1. Absolutely a reprehensible decision and an insult to anyone with a sense of the history of this event. Say what you will about Tony George but he never would have allowed this to happen.

    Comment by Gurney Eagle — April 6, 2011 @ 3:32 am | Reply

  2. What makes it more incomprehensible is that Trump may be running for President and it may be “official” by May. It makes it look like they are supporting a candidate and I doubt that is what they are doing or intend to do.

    Comment by Bob F. — April 6, 2011 @ 12:48 pm | Reply

  3. Disgusting, and couple that with the fact that he’s a “presidential” candidate, makes me a little more disgusted.

    Comment by The American Mutt — April 6, 2011 @ 2:31 pm | Reply

  4. Well, I guess money “trumps” all–Donald probably paid someone big bucks to drive the pace car. It shows that at long last, IndyCar, or at least Indy itself, it strictly about show business. Of course Jamie Little doesn’t know the difference between the 100th anniversary or the 100th running–she’s too young to know about Indy history, or doesn’t care, and being an employee of ABC/ESPN, she reads from a script. It’s just a job/business to her.

    Comment by DOUG — April 6, 2011 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

  5. Lone Star J.R. is the real pace car driver. I am curious if Ray Harroun paced the whole race in 1961 or was just a cerimonial driver like they have today.

    This decision says more about the world we now live in than anything else.

    Comment by Mike Miller — April 6, 2011 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

  6. To answer your question, Mr. Miller–Ray Harroun just drove his 1911 winning car on a ceremonial lap; he didn’t drive the pace car at all. In fact, in those days, they didn’t use the pace car during the caution periods (that didn’t come about until 1979). But what a sight that was to see Mr. Harroun, at age eighty-something, to once again drive his Marmon Wasp around Indy, fifty years to the day he won the first ‘500. Auto racing history was made once again. I was there, so I know. I’m sure that once the 2011 ‘500 is started, J. R. will take over driving during the caution laps. But to have DT even anywhere the Indianapolis Speedway during this centennial is a travesty.

    Comment by DOUG — April 7, 2011 @ 4:13 pm | Reply

  7. IT is a sad day when we let politics in our decisions for sports.

    Comment by Sheila Ferrand — May 5, 2011 @ 9:37 pm | Reply

  8. Almost 5 years has passed since this blog was published and knowing the current US political climate, I wonder how you feel about Mr Trump’s leadership capabilities?
    Editor’s Note: Trump was asked to step away from that role after nearly unanimous IndyCar fan revolt. That occasion was the 100th anniversary of the first 500 and there were far more appropriate, respectful choices. Trump did the right thing then by backing away. His leadership qualities look and sound remarkably similar to those displayed by Adolf Hitler during the early 1930s. My wish is mostly hoping the American populace was not so damned gullible. Certain bad parts of history do not need to be repeated but most people in today’s nose-in-a-device world are too self-absorbed to prevent disaster.

    Comment by Ken Parks — March 19, 2016 @ 7:46 pm | Reply

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