President Elect Donald Trump, and by a decisive margin. Those words boggle the mind. It was a little different just five years ago.
The sport of IndyCar has suffered through varying degrees of outright civil war since 1979. The heart of that conflict, like most politics, has to do with money, control and direction. At times, through most of the 1980s for example, it has been passive. At others it has escalated to hostile and aggressive such as from the mid-1990s through nearly the present. The sport is enjoying a resurgence of sorts these days largely due to more focused, consistent management.
In 2011 IndyCar had not yet reached its current level of harmony, but the Indianapolis 500 that year was the 100th anniversary of the very first running in 1911. It was a very big, dare I say HUGE, deal and the culmination of a three year ‘centennial era’ celebration. It was also the year the Indianapolis Motor Speedway tapped Donald J. Trump to drive the pace car to start the race.
Considering the state of Indiana is among the most neon crimson of red states and an ongoing civil war still fractured IndyCar, what happened in the weeks leading up to that race seems incredible today. The selection of Trump unified everyone on all sides and from all political persuasions in a resounding chorus of HELL NO. Criticism of Trump as pace car driver was swift, loud and unrelenting. Fans thought the pick was disgusting and showed a complete lack of respect for the 500, its tradition and the century that led up to that race.
Eventually Trump was quietly replaced with a more fitting selection most everyone also agreed was the correct choice. A.J. Foyt on the 50th anniversary of the first of his four wins was the right call. Trump, in a manner of speaking, was fired.
Anyone who was ready to put two years of vulgar campaign vitriol behind them on November 9 may be in for a rude surprise if social media is a current indicator. Insults, whacko conspiracy theories, and hostility from the right and left wings as fervent as ever continues to pollute society. America does not stand a chance of being great in such a poisoned well.
IndyCar, on the other hand, has entered a new area of smooth sailing. Given current weariness from election fatigue it may be way too long a winter for racing fans. When Spring arrives IndyCar is poised to be great again!