The 1970s were a turbulent time. The economy, social issues, and civil unrest rocked the country. Meanwhile, behind the scenes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, similar movements would rock the racing world.
Women were fighting for independence, equal rights, and showing more of their femininity (and skin) than ever before, which fashion both allowed and encouraged. Short skirts and dresses, tight tops, hot pants and go-go boots were all the rage.
The battle of the sexes played out on the track for the first time in 1977, when Janet Guthrie became the first woman to ever race in the Indianapolis 500. The former aeronautical engineer finished ninth in 1978 and paved the way for other female drivers, including Danica Patrick, who finished fourth in 2005 and third in 2009.
As popular as ever, the Race Day fans came from all walks of life.
From track royalty …
To infield crowds that resembled a Doors concert…
And bikini-clad sun worshippers (who now regret using baby oil as sunscreen)…
The Indy 500 had something for everyone, even actors and future presidents.
A different kind of racing legend was born in the 1970s. Linda Vaughn, a former beauty queen, earned the nickname of “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter” for her work as spokesmodel for Hurst Performance. What she was even more famous for, was her southern charm, curvaceous figure, and overt sex appeal. But let’s also appreciate her hair, which absolutely screams ’70s.
With the help of design and technology, the cars broke the 200 MPH speed barrier in 1977 and, for the first time, started to look like the Indy cars of today. And apparently, Pippa Mann was not the first driver to bring a pink car to the Indy 500. In 2014, Pippa went pink, but someone beat her to it in 1977.
With star power, international flair, and a little bit of ’80s excess, the next decade would take the Indianapolis 500 to yet another level.