The Best of “The Look of the 500”

Published On December 5, 2014 » 4240 Views» By Heather Lloyd » Blogs, IMS, IMS History, Indy 500, Photography, The Look of the 500

The look of the Indianapolis 500 from 1911 to today: So many looks. So many trends. So many styles. Some of them defined a movement. Others defined a generation.

Let’s take a look back at those who made a statement. The looks that we remember. And the style we can’t forget.

It’s amazing to think that in 1935, without modern conveniences, women could look this polished, this put together, this elegant — and this carefree! Maybe laughter really is the best medicine. It certainly worked for them.



These are women after my own heart. Stylish, sophisticated, and drinking beer out of the trunk of a car while watching sports. These are the original tailgaters. The women who paved the way for sports-loving females like myself. Cheers to you, ladies …


1950 – Fans on Race Day

It’s not even normal how obsessed I am with this picture of actress Cyd Charisse, a celebrity guest at the Indy 500 in 1957, and the epitome of glamour and class. I picture her saying, “Darling, you simply must kiss the bricks.” I want the Speedway to put this picture on a coffee mug with my made up quote and sell it in the gift shop. (Or just make me one for Christmas.) As Author Karen Karbo said, “A woman can do or say whatever she wants as long as she’s wearing pearls.” And Cyd Charisse can do (or say) no wrong in this ensemble.


1957 – Cyd Charisse

It’s a bit of a jump from Hollywood royalty to racetrack royalty, but that’s exactly what Linda Vaughn was in her day. But that wasn’t all she was. With her overtly sexual appeal, Vaughn was the bombshell that came before pop culture icons like Pamela Anderson, Anna Nicole Smith, and the Kardashians. They all became famous for their “assets,” but only after “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter” used her assets to become a household name with race fans.


1971 – Linda Vaughn (right)

And after it went missing for a generation, actress Ashley Judd single handedly brought Hollywood glamour back to the Indianapolis 500 in the modern era. Alongside her husband at the time, driver Dario Franchitti, Judd’s big sunglasses, floppy hats, wedge sandals, and Anthropologie dresses graced the track for nearly a decade. She even inspired a movement. Cathy Kightlinger, then a lifestyle reporter for the Indianapolis Star (and now in PR with the Verizon IndyCar Series), got #DressUpForThe500 trending on social media, in hopes of making a fashion statement at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.


2006 – Dario Franchitti and Ashley Judd

From those who waved the flag, to those who raised the bar, thanks for inspiring us with your style.

As Coco Chanel said, “Every day is a fashion show and the world is your runway.” Even if that runway is a 2.5-mile stretch of asphalt at The Racing Capital of the World.


2014 – IndyCar Wives and Girlfriends (Photo Credit: Michael Schrader for Indianapolis Monthly)

More in “The Look of the 500″ series: 1911-1920, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s , 1990s, 2000s, Today, The Best of The Look of the 500


About The Author

Heather Lloyd

Heather Lloyd is an Indy sports blogger who grew up in Minneapolis, graduated from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, worked as a news anchor, then moved to Indianapolis where she became a professional fan. A die-hard Colts, Pacers, IndyCar, and Big Ten fan, when she’s not watching her teams, she’s either talking about them, writing about them, or tweeting about them. You can find her at and follow her on twitter @TheBlueMare. Ms. Lloyd has been known to blow off barbecues, birthday parties, and baby showers to watch sports. And she isn’t sorry.