Donald Trump Drops Out of Indianopolis 500 Duties Amidst Protests

 NBC

Does this mean Donald Trump is going to run for president?

The Celebrity Apprentice star has pulled out of his Indianapolis 500 duties because of his possible campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, the Indianapolis Star reported.

He was supposed to be the pace car driver at this month's race, but he told Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials that the event conflicted with his schedule.

"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. "I look forward to watching the race from New York."



Said Speedway president Jeff Belskus: "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. 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."

Trump hasn't made an official announcement about his presidential campaign but has said he's already made the decision and plans to announce that sometime after Celebrity Apprentice's May 22 finale.

"In my mind, I have already decided," Trump said Sunday. "I am going to announce. But I can't do anything until the show ends."

The real estate mogul has angered many in Hollywood -- and has even been called a racist -- over his attacks on President Obama, calling the president's birth certificate as well as his grades into question.

As the Star points out, Facebook users took to the social media site to protest Trump's involvement with the Indy 500, launching pages including "Dump Trump From the 500" (314 likes) and "We Don't Want Donald Trump to Drive the Indy 500 Pace Car" (18,209 likes).

Michael Cohen, executive vp/special counsel to Trump, defended his boss to the Star.

"There are over 300,000 people coming to the Indy 500," Cohen said. "That sounds like a very small number of people who are probably not even Indy 500 fans."



He also said Trump "doesn't have a racist bone in his body."

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