INDIANAPOLIS -- The Donald is giving up one race, perhaps so he can focus on another one altogether.
Real estate mogul Donald Trump said Thursday he will not be the celebrity pace-car driver for the Indianapolis 500 on May 29, pulling out because it would be "inappropriate" since he "may be announcing shortly his intention" to run for president.
Trump also said it would be impossible to fulfill the required practice sessions that occur during race week because of his busy schedule.
"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."
Trump's decision shut down a brewing controversy that some race fans contended could distract from the 100-year anniversary of the first 500.
"That actually was something that I heard, that Mr. Trump is so big and everything that is going on right now is so big, that it would overshadow the importance of the race," said Michael Cohen, an executive vice president and special counsel to Trump.
Those who wanted Trump out argued that he was too divisive to be the pace-car driver after he questioned whether President Barack Obama was born outside the United States and whether Obama was qualified to attend two Ivy League schools.
Obama has released his Hawaii birth certificate, and Trump has called on Obama to release his academic records too.
State Rep. Jeb Bardon, a Democrat who represents the area around the historic 2.5-mile oval, kicked off the "Dump Trump" movement last week with a floor speech in the Indiana Legislature. "My voice was just reflective of what I was hearing from my constituents," Bardon said.