Mark Miles, IndyCar CEO and president of its parent company, Penske Entertainment Corporation, has derided the claim that F1 is the “greatest spectacle in motorsports” as being a “crock of s***”.
Rapper LL Cool J was charged with introducing the drivers individually on the F1 grid prior to the Miami Grand Prix on Sunday, and he began his pre-race introductions with: “What’s up, Miami? Let me introduce you to the 20 best drivers in the world. This is the greatest spectacle in motorsports. This is Formula 1.”
This caught Miles’ attention, not least because of IndyCar’s long-held trademark on the phrase: ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’, for the Indianapolis 500, as well as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway holding trademark rights on being known as ‘The Racing Capital of the World’.
The IndyCar boss had already been in touch with F1 owners Liberty Media over similar wording surrounding the marketing of the Las Vegas Grand Prix earlier this year, in which they had advertised F1 as “the greatest racing spectacle on the planet”.
But after LL Cool J’s introductions on Sunday, Miles was not impressed by the implication that F1 carries a better racing spectacle than what is on offer in IndyCar, or treading close to the line on their trademarks.
“I heard that,” Miles told IndyStar. “And my reaction was, ‘I’ll bet you race fans know that’s a crock of s***. ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ is right here [at IMS] in May, by every measure.
“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 [modus operandi].
“I’m not sure who the chain of people is for writing something like that that gets said on the mic, but I don’t believe it would come from as high up as [Stefano Domenicali].
“I didn’t consider it a corporate policy, given our relationship.”
Miami GP a sign of what is to come in F1?
If nothing else, the Miami Grand Prix showed that Formula 1 is doing all it can to make the most of its newfound popularity in America.
For all the fame, fortune and effort that went into putting Miami together at the weekend, heading to Las Vegas in November is likely to increase that even further, with the sport being put on a pedestal arguably like it never has in the States.
That will be its biggest test of how much of a spectacle it can be in America, with a primetime Saturday night race on Thanksgiving weekend in one of its most attractive cities in marketing terms, a lot will be on the line for the sport later in the season in that regard.
There is a well-established fanbase in Austin now, with a record attendance heading to the Circuit of The Americas last year, but expanding further is where it will get tougher for the sport.