Talladega Nights-inspired restaurant sued by Sony Pictures

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A restaurant in Fort Worth, Texas that’s inspired by the 2006 NASCAR-themed movie “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” is now being sued by the studio that made the film.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Sony Pictures – which distributed the Will Ferrell comedy through its subsidiary, Columbia Pictures – filed a trademark lawsuit last week in federal court against the restaurant’s parent company, Rick’s Cabaret International, which deals primarily in running gentleman’s clubs in the United States.

RCI’s eatery is known as the Ricky Bobby Sports Saloon and Restaurant, which features a full-size replica stock car by its front door and waitresses that are known as “Smokin’ Hotties.”

(No word if the restaurant has a jukebox that carries jazz, the Pet Shop Boys and Seal for profiling purposes.)

The car and waitress name aspects of the restaurant are pointed out in the lawsuit, which states that said car bears a resemblance to the “Me” car driven by the Ricky Bobby character in the film and that the “Smokin’ Hotties” bit is a reference to the character repeatedly calling his spouse his “smokin’ hot wife” in the film.

Sony maintains that it wasn’t asked permission by RCI to use any Talladega Nights license. The studio also made sure to note its past authorizations for Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch to use the “Me” car image for a 2012 race at Talladega Superspeedway and a Wonder Bread-sponsored car last year.

RCI officials haven’t exactly hidden the sourcing for their restaurant’s theme, but have maintained that proper names can’t be trademarked so the Ricky Bobby name is fair game.

Nonetheless, that’s not stopping Sony. According to the Reporter, they’re demanding an injunction against the use of the name, profits from the restaurant, the forfeiture of web domain names, and unspecified punitive and exemplary damages.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.