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Indy vs F1: A Dispute Over Trademarked Taglines



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In the high-octane world of racing, a fresh dispute unfolds. Mark Miles, head of Penske Entertainment Corporation, owning IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, voices his displeasure with Formula 1. At the heart of the controversy is a seeming infringement of Indy 500’s iconic slogan, sparking debates on intellectual property, media coverage, and the simmering tension between the two racing giants. Can this tussle be a starting point for more cooperation or a trigger for an intensifying rivalry? Buckle up as we delve into this high-speed contention.

Mark Miles, the head of Penske Entertainment Corporation, which owns both IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is displeased with Formula 1.

At the Miami Grand Prix’s driver introductions last weekend, LL Cool J, who was hosting the event, referred to it as “the greatest racing spectacle on the planet”. This statement bears a striking resemblance to the Indy 500’s protected slogan, “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.

While this comment might have been overlooked if made in isolation, it follows a recent incident in March where a promotional video for the Las Vegas F1 race also used the term ‘greatest racing spectacle on the planet’. This same video included the phrase ‘in the sports and entertainment capital of the world’, which infringes on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s registered trademark for ‘Racing Capital of the World’.

In a private interview with the Indy Star, Miles conveyed his thoughts on LL Cool J’s comment in Miami, stating, “My response was that genuine racing enthusiasts would surely recognize that to be nonsense.”

“The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is located right here in Indianapolis in May, by every standard.

He continued, “I do not foresee the potential copyright violations persisting. We had a brief and informal discussion with them when this issue arose in Las Vegas, so I was taken aback by what happened on Sunday. But I don’t think that’s their typical way of operating.”


It’s doubtful that LL Cool J penned the controversial phrase himself, and it’s plausible that the scriptwriters who prepared his briefing were unaware of Indy’s slogan and made an honest error.

Miles added, “I’m unsure who is responsible for crafting such a statement to be spoken on the microphone, but I don’t believe it originated from someone as senior as Stefano Domenicali, the president and CEO of F1.”

“I didn’t perceive it to be a company-wide policy, considering our relationship.”

Doug Boles, the president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, also raised the subject of intellectual property in the same Indy Star article.

“Listen, we want you (F1) to prosper, and we’re thrilled you’re in the US, but these trademarks are ours. You need to establish your own,” Boles commented.

“The Liberty team responded earlier this year, expressing understanding and assurance that they would not repeat this. They even pledged to find and rectify the infringed instances. Their response was entirely respectful, acknowledging the issue without resistance.”

Boles continued, “The problem with intellectual property law is that if you don’t actively defend your trademarks, you risk losing the power to protect them when it truly matters.”


This is not the first case of friction between IndyCar and F1, hinting at a tense relationship despite the fact that the two entities have regularly engaged in comprehensive discussions in the past.

Greg Maffei, the president of Liberty, a company that not only owns F1 but also holds a stake in Meyer Shank Racing in IndyCar, expressed his views to Bloomberg last year. He said, “If any of you watch the Indy 500, and I don’t hold any prejudice against it since we are investors and owners of the team that won the Indy 500 last year, but consider the disparity in the coverage and the superior quality of the F1 coverage compared to the Indy 500 coverage.”

“I think you’d conclude that the F1 experience on television is considerably superior.”

These remarks referenced Miami before its first race in 2022, but F1’s TV direction was criticized for missing crucial overtakes and concentrating on less relevant skirmishes lower down the grid. The Indy 500 did not seem to draw the same criticism.

Responding to Maffei’s comments after the 500 last year, Miles told F1Lead, “I met him in Miami and asked him, ‘What was that all about?’” as reported by F1Lead.

“And he responded, ‘Look, I’m not disparaging the 500, it’s a fantastic race, we loved having a car that won it, I simply believe that the coverage here and the 500, when compared side by side, are not at all similar,” Miles recalled.

“I replied, ‘Well, let’s make that comparison.’


“People may say a lot of things, but I challenge anyone to critically review – I’m not criticizing the Formula One Management (FOM) or their coverage here. There are indeed great elements to it.

“But, in my opinion, it’s tough to top NBC’s coverage of the 500. It may not be an exact match. It’s not exactly the same for all the IndyCar races.

“But he chose poorly when he used the 500 as a benchmark for comparison.”

This conversation occurred amidst Formula 1’s expansion in the US to three races, with possibly more in the future. Naturally, this has sparked serious discussion about how IndyCar will respond and capitalize on this situation.

IndyCar has significantly increased its marketing budget and secured a documentary series in the style of ‘Drive to Survive’, which has received high praise after two episodes. Nevertheless, there will always be some who feel threatened by Formula 1’s growing presence in the United States.

Additionally, there have been recent rumours – refuted by Penske Corporation president Bud Denker via Racer – that IndyCar might be sold to Liberty.

Liberty had previously expressed interest in acquiring IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of the process that eventually resulted in Penske taking over in January 2020.


Returning to the event that sparked this conversation, it seems to be an error made by an uninformed person who supplied a rapper with a line for a driver introduction.

However, Miles’ reaction demonstrates that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will vigorously defend its slogan, regardless of whether the similarities in certain Formula 1 phrases were deliberate or not.

While the relationship can certainly still be mended, this incident adds to a mounting list of situations where IndyCar feels slighted by Formula 1’s actions, which it perceives as needless.

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