IndyCar Exec Not Happy With F1, LL Cool J Over ‘Greatest Spectacle’ Branding

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It seems there’s a proper beef brewing between IndyCar and Formula 1. It all has to do with what one executive sees as F1 ripping off the Indianapolis 500’s branding.

One of the biggest races on the F1 calendar this season will be the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Ever since it was announced it’s been heavily promoted. Part of this promotion came in the form of a video that called F1 “the greatest racing spectacle on the planet.” It also referred to Las Vegas as “the sports and entertainment capital of the world.”

Now; here’s the rub…

According to IndyStar, Mark Miles, the president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp. which owns the IndyCar series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway wasn’t happy about this. That’s because the Indianapolis 500 is branded as the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” while IMS is billed as the “Racing Capital of the World.”

Whether it was blatant trademark infringement or parallel thinking is open for debate, but Miles sent F1 owner Liberty Media an informal letter asking that they not use that branding. It seemed like the message had been sent and everything was fine.

At least until LL Cool J got on the mic.

LL Cool J’s driver introductions at the Miami Grand Prix raised some eyebrows among the folks at IndyCar. (Photo by Mario Renzi – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Miami Grand Prix Driver Intros Reignited The IndyCar-F1 Trademark Tensions

On Sunday, LL Cool J handled driver introductions ahead of the Miami Grand Prix.

Why LL Cool J? Dude, I’ve been asking that since Sunday; it just seems like such a random choice.

Regardless, it was something F1 had never done before. Some fans and drivers hated it; others were fine with it. However, it was something Mr. Cool J said that got Miles a little heated.

“What’s up, Miami?” the rapper said. “Let me introduce you to the 20 best drivers in the world. This is the greatest spectacle in motorsports. This is Formula 1.”


Whether he was reading his lines or went rogue and freestyled that one, is unknown. What is known is that the IndyCar folks weren’t super jazzed about it.

“I heard that and my reaction was, ‘I’ll bet you race fans know that’s a crock of (expletive),” Miles told IndyStar. ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ is right here (at IMS) in May, by every measure.”

It is pretty wild that no one at F1 would pick up on that. It’s not like they used an almost verbatim slogan for the biggest jai alai tournament in the world. They picked one that has been used by one of the biggest races in motorsports for years.

They’re a motorsports series; someone should’ve raised a hand somewhere along the line.

Someone with even a passing familiarity with IndyCar or the Indianapolis 500 would be familiar with their “greatest spectacle in racing” branding. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Mistake Likely Happened Down The Food Chain

Ironically, some of the people involved with the Miami Grand Prix have ties to IndyCar. Managing partner of the Miami Grand Prix and Miami DOlphins vice chairman, president, and CEO of the Miami Dolphins Tom Garfinkel used to be the executive vice president of Chip Ganassi Racing. Meanwhile, Miami Grand Prix president Tyler Epp used to work for Ganassi as well.

That leads one to believe that the slip-up happened somewhere else in the F1 machine.

However, Miles said he doesn’t think that this trend will continue.

“And I don’t expect (the potential trademark infringements) to continue. We had a little conversation with them when it was popping up around Vegas, and it was very informal and quick, so I was surprised by (Sunday). But I don’t think that’s their general MO.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles told IndyStar that Penske Entertainment Corp. will likely reach out to Liberty Media again.

“Look, we want you to be successful, and we’re excited you’re here in the U.S., but these are our marks, clearly. Go build your own,” Boles said.

Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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