Indianapolis Motor Speedway to take ‘every measure possible’ over repeated trademark infringements

F1 and Nascar have flirted with 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing' trademark synonymous with Indy 500.
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  • F1 has used similar promotional line three times in last year
  • Nascar copies phrase for Daytona 500 but deletes post prior to issue being raised

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), host of the historic Indianapolis 500, will look to double down on repeated trademark infringements from Formula One and Nascar.

The Indy 500 is synonymous with the phrase ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’, first trademarked by Hulman & Company in 1986.

Over the last year, though, both Formula One and Nascar have gone close to using the famous line in promotional material.

Last week, ESPN ran an advertisement ahead of the new Formula One season calling the series ‘the greatest spectacle in motorsports’, a line that rapper LL Cool J previously used when introducing the drivers at last year’s Miami Grand Prix.

In addition, ahead of the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, marketing touted the event as ‘the greatest racing spectacle on the planet’ taking place in the ‘sports and entertainment capital of the world’, which could be argued as a further infringement on another IMS trademark: the ‘Racing Capital of the World’.

“We are aware of the use of our mark in what appears to be a broadcast promotional spot. We will once again address it with the appropriate people and are prepared to take every measure possible to protect our brand’s intellectual property,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a statement to IndyStar.

“It continues to be disappointing that others can’t create their own brand identity without infringing upon ours.”

Formula One’s messaging comes in the same week that Nascar promoted its season-opening Daytona 500 with ‘the greatest spectacle in racing’ as its tagline, a direct infringement. However, the post was removed before Penske Entertainment, the owner of IndyCar and IMS, even raised the issue with Nascar.

“We speculated that it wasn’t malicious,” Boles told IndyStar. “In fact, we wondered if they might’ve had an intern doing social who forgot that they’re ‘The Great American Race’ and not ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ and it was an honest mistake.

“I had a great conversation with [Nascar president] Steve Phelps [recently] in the Daytona airport, and he says nothing but positive things about the way we all work together. So it feels to me that was an honest mistake. But if they’d kept it up, we absolutely would’ve had a conversation.”

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