This Memorial Day weekend, the starting grid of the 100th Indianapolis 500 will be missing one star driver: Donald Trump, who walked away from his gig as honorary pace car driver following withering criticism of his planned participation.
The Indianapolis Star reports that Trump has abandoned his scheduled appearance in the Chevy Camaro that will pace the race on May 29.
Anti-Trump activists on Facebook and a group of Baptist ministers in Indianapolis had been hounding race organizers as Trump’s stature as birther and then Obama college record questioner-in-chief rose.
On Thursday, Trump gave in to the pressure and abandoned his ride around the famous 2.5 mile oval, citing scheduling problems.
“I very much appreciate the honor, but time and business constraints make my appearance there, especially with the necessary practice sessions, impossible to fulfill,” Trump told the organizers, according to reports. “I look forward to watching the race from New York.”
But Trump’s own “special counsel” told the Star that it was Indianapolis who walked away from Trump, not the other way around. Michael Cohen said the anger at Trump’s appearance was “politically motivated.”
“Of course it is, of course it is,” he told the paper.
“This debate stems from unfounded, incorrect and malicious lies that Donald Trump has a racial bias toward the president,” Cohen said. “Nothing could be further from the truth; Donald Trump doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.”
The Star notes “there has never been an active prospect for president drive the pace car.”
Race organizers released a statement thanking Trump for walking away from the spotlight at one of America’s most watched sporting events.
“Donald Trump has been very enthusiastic about the ‘500’ from the beginning of our conversations, and I have appreciated the interaction we have had with him and his staff,” said Jeff Belskus, president of the track. “From my first conversation, I was impressed by his deep understanding of the event and history, and I thank him for being a true fan.”
Read the full Star report here.