Bad Taste Suddenly Runs Amok At IMS

Those of us born prior to 1960 are generally referred to as old fogies. We are perceived to drive large lumbering Buicks, watch wooden console TV’s that sit on the floor and enjoy listening to a Dean Martin album while wearing a cardigan sweater. I like to think I’m not quite that over-the-hill; but with all of my recent ramblings about being averse to change and anything new and modern – one might wonder.

I’ll admit to being a traditionalist and my taste tends to be more conservative than most. That being said, I’m curious to know if anyone out there approves of the new logo for the 2012 Indianapolis 500 that quietly appeared on this week. Last year, they had a celebratory unveiling of the 2011 logo. Curiously enough, this one just showed up. My personal opinion is that it is hideous. Quite frankly, I think it’s the ugliest one they have ever come up with.


I tend to pay attention to each year’s logo and how it might look on various polos and sweatshirts. I usually buy at least one piece of apparel with the Indy logo each year. That won’t be the case next year. It looks like something you’d see on a bad birthday cake from Wal-Mart. It makes me wonder if the five year-old child of an IMS exec drew it out on a napkin. I certainly hope they didn’t actually pay anyone for this. It’s that atrocious.

This amateurish offering comes on the heels of one of the best looking logos they’ve had – the one for the centennial anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. It was classic looking as it should have been, given the historic nature of this year’s race. But does that give them license to go the opposite direction? I can’t tell if it’s retro or modern. What I do know is that it’s decidedly ugly.


The Speedway has been designing individual race logos since 1981. As is the case with anything – some are better than others. For years, they used some fairly generic logos. Throughout my childhood through 1975, a version of the wing & wheel on the cover of each program sufficed as the event logo.

Traditional Indy Logo

From then until 1980, a simple block-style logo was used. It wasn’t particularly attractive or flashy, but it wasn’t offensive either. It was just there.

Block Style

Since 1981, the Speedway has had an individual logo for each running of the Indianapolis 500. Some of those I’ve really liked, including these:






Likewise, there have been some that I considered clunkers or less appealing to the eye. Those that I haven’t cared for over the years included some of these:






But none of those come close to the garish logo for 2012. What’s going on at 16th and Georgetown? It’s as if they’ve suddenly been infected with a case of bad taste. First they choose Donald Trump to drive the pace car. We all know how that worked out. Then they have the Hot Wheels stunt on race morning. Just last week, I was griping about them changing the iconic wing & wheel for no apparent reason. Now they come out with this monstrosity. I shouldn’t ask this, but…what’s next?

I don’t really like complaining about everything, I really don’t. I would much rather be writing about more positive things like the fact that Versus had a 0.6 rating for Edmonton – making it their highest rated IndyCar telecast ever. However, it seems that’s all I’ve done for the last couple of weeks is moan about something off-track. Fortunately, there will be the new car taking the track at Mid-Ohio for the first time on August 8. That should be interesting – and hopefully positive.

I realize I’m old & grumpy and there are a lot of items that are passed off as fashion and artwork these days, that I would consider garbage. But am I just out of touch? Am I the only person that thinks this is ugly? Does anyone even care what an event logo looks like? Let me hear from you. Let me know if I no longer know what good taste looks like, or if the same thing would apply to those in charge of marketing at IMS.

George Phillips

26 Responses to “Bad Taste Suddenly Runs Amok At IMS”

  1. Jim in Wilmington Says:

    I hate it!!!

  2. Ben Twickerbill Says:

    It looks like the kind of logo that Ron Popeil or Billy Mays would have put on one of their cheesy products. In this case perhaps it might have been a toilet bowl cleanser of some kind (Kaboom) that hangs in the toilet tank and you are guaranteed 500 flushes worth of cleasing action.

    It seems like every year that goes buy, the folks at the IMS become more and more out of touch with what it takes to keep race fans interested. Thank goodness the racing is usually pretty good, attendance is certainly not due to the great marketing they have been doing. Keep the wing and wheel in the logo, (the entire wing and wheel) keep Jim Nabors singing for as long as possible and stop messing with things at the IMS… Donald Trump… Driving the pace car for the 500 at the IMS…. Geezus, whats next, Lady Gaga singing the national anthem …!!!! And would that really surprise anyone…????

  3. I find myself in the thumbs down group as well.

  4. I don’t see anything wrong with it.

  5. Steve K Says:

    On that note…Who’s going to Mid-Ohio? I finally bought my tickets. Looking forward to double file restarts here to liven things up.

  6. tampa joe Says:

    I don’t know why I waste my time reading this site. Its always the same crap. You people amaze me with your worship of the Indy speedway. Who cares?

    And George, the 60’s aint coming back. Get over it and move on!!

    • Good times. Thanks for stopping by, Mr. Joe. We enjoy your presence, too, fella.

      I’m in the “thumbs down” camp, but I almost never buy anything with the 500 logo on it other than the program, anyway. Frankly, I’m more concerned with the announcement that they’re changing the color of the cups that the Track Fries come in. Them’s fightin’ words, Belskus! You and I are going to throw hands! Have at you!

    • I don’t know why you waste your time reading this site either.

    • indygrrl Says:

      Why do you go to any blogs that have to do with racing? Of course we worship the Indy Speedway–it is Mecca to us. I won’t miss you at all. Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out….

    • The Lapper Says:

      Don’t kid yourself. It is all about the Indianapolis 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and in motorsports nothing comes close. Always has been and always will be.

    • Ben Twickerbill Says:

      Hey you guys,
      Joe just needs to catch up on his reading… And TJ, here is a good place to start.

  7. I wouldn’t buy a shirt or hat with that design on it, but maybe I’m not the target audience. My mother might.

  8. I can’t say as how I’m a fan of it.

  9. carburetor Says:

    This attempt must have been an afterthought–or they are really saving money on their graphic design consultant; perhaps using grade schoolers?

  10. Count me in the middle of everything, George. It doesn’t bug me, but it doesn’t move me either.

    You know, while I’m not quite the old fart as some others ;), I do lean a bit towards conservatism in one regard: The new should be an improvement over the old. I know that sounds obvious, but sometimes it needs to be stated, otherwise people think that a given person is just indulging in Old-Fartism. It does help a bit to understand that a lot of times, complaints like George’s here is not as much pining for the past (although that’s an undeniable element of it) as it is hoping that the future gets better and not worse. You don’t want to go downhill, and I think that’s what George is getting at here.

    On the other hand, I do have to say to George that sometimes you can’t really tell if a change will be a hit or not, and you sometimes just have to throw it out there to see if it sticks. Maybe they’re trying to go more Shiny Happy Modernistic with this logo. Maybe they internally felt a need to really look different from the past. Who knows? My point is that to stay dynamic and evolving, occasionally a change will be made that doesn’t necessarily work out. And for something that’s old enough – and my goodness, among races, the Indianapolis 500 is **old** – occasionally you want to make some sort of change just so you keep things living, breathing, and moving, and not static. A logo is a mild change (the real one will be the new cars), but the point still stands: Sometimes you just change not for the sake of change itself, but for the sake of attempting to *evolve*. And occasionally, those changes won’t work out… but at least your organization won’t be sitting still, gathering dust and dying a sort of death from fossilization. So while there’s nothing wrong with applying pressure to say that change should be positive and for the better, the flip side is accepting that in all things, occasionally a change will be tried that won’t work out. The real trick to making it all work out in the end is to make sure you don’t introduce a potentially *fatal* change. Don’t introduce another split, and no more 25 – 8 rules (something that probably SHOULD have killed off the series, had it not been for the pure passion of OWR fans in the US and the sheer strength and solidity of the Indy 500). Make sure a given change won’t actually *kill* the series, and I’ll be at least willing to evaluate it. Because while not all change is good, not changing at all can be very bad. “Dinosaur” is an occasional pejorative for a reason.

  11. billytheskink Says:

    For my money ($4 at Big Lots to be exact) the ugliest Indy 500 logo was the one the Speedway used for the “Indy 500 Series” videotape/DVD collection they issued at the turn of the century. It wasn’t a race logo, but it sure was ugly.

    The new logo is not their best, but I find nothing about it to be ugly or offensive.

    I’m more worried about the final look of the new car, as the show cars and aditional indications from Tony Cotman lead me to believe it will make not be making the task of explaining the difference between IndyCar and Formula 1 to the average Joe any easier.

  12. Design a new logo (or four or five) every year for three decades, and you’re bound to have a few clunkers. I’m not enamored of the 2012 logo, but it could be worse.
    I also always try to keep an open mind about this sort of thing. Today’s “ugly” is tomorrow’s “design classic.” When something new shows up, people often don’t have the experience or words to appreciate it until they’ve lived with it. Or, I think that was the gist of something I once read about the Herman Miller Aron chair.
    I probalby won’t buy anything sporting that logo, but I won’t have to look at it after next May, either.

  13. George, I believe that you “don’t really like complaining about everything.” You poke fun at yourself for bein’ old(er) and resistant to unnecessary change.
    I think that this new insignia is idiotic. It suggests a 1987 first draft that has been updated with an Apple OS gloss look.
    When, oh when will IMS marketing department HIRE professional artists, such as members of AFAS, or CCS grads, or Art Center grads to design insignia rather than tell its college interns to see if they can come up with something?
    The Indy500 insignias that you showed in a string were really amateurish and even putrid, NOT befitting the ‘largest single-day sporting event in the world.’
    If IMS cannot possibly hire a fine artist or graphic designer to design a glorious, classy, respectable insignia for printing on programs and a simpler, 2-color version that’s easier to embroider and to screen-print onto cups,
    It could solicit proposals from all the open-wheel racing fans and artists of North America. That would drum-up publicity and get a wealth of useful proposals that could be winnowed down to a winner.
    I hope that IMS hears outcry regarding this ‘500 flushes’ piece via blogs like this and, then scraps that in favor of paying a graphic designer for something dignified and suggesting an AUTOMOBILE race.

  14. indygrrl Says:

    On logos I feel I do have some credibility–as I have been in graphic design foe 30 years. I’m sure this logo took MANY, MANY committee meetings. That’s what I think happened here, it looks like a logo designed by a committee. Aside from the obvious punctuation issue–there really should be a period after the 27, but aesthetically looked stupid just hanging out there without the year after it. The 70’s is the era that is trending everywhere right now, and the logo reflects that. I can’t fault them for trying to keep up with the trends, but the “glassy-looking button look” is from about 10 years ago, when you put the 2 together, it is not very cohesive. I’m sure they pay good money for a design firm to do the logo, but as with all jobs, the committee (i.e. the people paying your check) has the final say. I loved the logo last year, I guess they are trying to be forward-looking this year, just a bit of bad design trend mixing. It will be interesting to see how they manage to make this one work in embroidery as that “glassy look” does not translate well to thread.

    • I couldn’t really put into words why I didn’t like it until I read this. I think you got it, I-girl. Design by committee.

  15. Can you say Jeff Bellskis? As in COST CUTTING, eh?

  16. Um… I’m definitly not an old guy, but I agree 100% with George, this is an awful, awful 500 logo. Surely this isn’t the real thing… I mean, my god, that wouldn’t do for the Fontana race much less the 500! Honestly, I enjoy you defending of history, and agree with it more times than not

  17. james t suel Says:


  18. George, I’m not a fan of the logo, for now! did you notice that those logos you did not like had great finishes in all of them? Maybe next year would be even better than 2011. We’ll see!

  19. Mike Silver Says:

    I am not crazy about the logo, but I don’t totally hate it. It is disappointing that a logo like this would follow the cool ones from the centennial.

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