Donald Trump and the Indianapolis 500

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.

Photo Credit:  New York Times
Photo Credit: New York Times

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!

5 replies to “Donald Trump and the Indianapolis 500

  1. A long time from now, the rejection of Trump as a pace car pilot will be an answer to a Donald Davidson style trivia question. I don’t know too many who were upset with that decision at that time, but it represented a turning point in some respects as from that moment forward, the 500 has seen exciting races and some serious growth.

  2. Whoever drives the pace car should have a connection to the sport, and especially the Indy 500. From that standpoint they made the right decision, and should have replaced others who ended up driving the pace car anyway. Robin Roberts? Lance Armstrong? Morgan Freeman? Really?

  3. Well, spring has indeed arisen.

    Indycar? Ratings way off last years numbers. Indy 500 attendance? Back to the now normal acreage of empty aluminum (300,000? Sure, Mr Bowles)

    Smaller crowds everywhere, save MAYBE Barber ( just look at your new fave site, Trackforum until you get pitched out of there again ) to see all the crowd shots/empty stands.

    But Dalllara is happy. Plenty of trashed tubs, and next year all the body kits are theirs to supply; makes it easier to cough up the “big” to IMS. At least somebody is making money from the IRL.

    Yep, Indycar is great (or is that GRATE) again.

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