Trump gives up Indy pace-car duty

Indianapolis: Real estate mogul Donald Trump has opted out as the pace car driver for the Indianapolis 500, lest the famed race be overshadowed by his own possible presidential bid.

A spokesman for the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway said that Trump had given up the gig at the May 29 race, deciding it would be "inappropriate" given Trump`s increasing political involvement.

In a statement released by the speedway, Trump also said his schedule made it impossible for him to work in the required practice sessions.

"We had conversations with him that started yesterday, and he was talking about his concern that he may make an announcement for president ahead of the race and that it may be inappropriate to drive the pace car," Indianapolis Motor Speedway spokesman Doug Boles said.

"So we discussed the political ramifications for everyone, we spoke with him again this morning and he decided to pull aside."

Boles stressed that he had no indication that Trump has definitely decided to seek the Republican nomination.

Boles said four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt could be called in as a replacement for Trump, whose role had stirred some controversy.

Trump, 64, has emerged in polls as a prospect from among a weak Republican field of potential presidential contenders, despite the fact that the political establishment and pundits generally do not take him seriously.

He has said he will decide by June 1 whether to see the GOP nomination to oppose Democrat Barack Obama, and critics argued that he was too divisive a figure to have the pace car honour.

State lawmaker Jeb Bardon, a Democrat who represents the area around the historic 2.5-mile oval circuit, launched the "Dump Trump" movement last week with a speech in the state legislature.

"My voice was just reflective of what I was hearing from my constituents," Bardon said.

Bureau Report