INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Donald Trump announced Thursday he will not drive the pace car for the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.
Officials at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway had been holding discussions on the rising controversy surrounding Trump, sources say. But on Thursday, Trump told IMS officials that as he considers running for president of the U.S., he thought it would be inappropriate to drive the pace car.
"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 said in a news release. "I look forward to watching the race from New York."
A new pace car driver will be announced later this month, IMS officials say.
A Facebook group seeking to "bump Trump" from the honorary position has gained more than 17,000 users since its inception two weeks.
The group cited Trumps's aspiring presidential hopes as only one of several reasons they want to bump him from the driver's seat.
The group says the pace car driver honor is typically bestowed on people involved in motor sports or people considered national heroes. The Facebook page contends Trump is neither.
The campaign to "bump Trump" started with Carmel attorney Michael Wallack. He calls himself a "lifelong" Indy 500 fan, and says he was disappointed in the selection of Trump from the very start.
"When they first announced that Donald Trump was a candidate for, and then was going to drive the pace car, it struck a wrong cord with me as a fan of the 500 — especially since this is the 100th anniversary. It just didn't feel like the right choice. That was before he went wholesale birther," Wallack told 24-Hour News 8.
Trump ignited controversy when he began to claim President Obama wasn't born in the U.S., demanding to see Obama's birth certificate. Accusations have since followed from some that Trump has made racist remarks by questioning how Obama got into Harvard when he wasn't a "good student."
"At that point, I got angry. And, I guess setting up this Facebook page was my way of venting," Wallack said.
Since setting up the Facebook page, more than 17,000 people have joined to voice their support and share their ideas for getting through to the Speedway and its sponsors.
Officials with the Indianapolis Colts say tickets are still available for the Colts vs. Texans game Sunday.
Fire crews in Anderson were on the scene of a building fire Thursday afternoon.
An Anderson apartment complex will be demolished after a fire broke out at the building Thursday.