The Look of the 500: 1970s

Published On October 24, 2014 » 5164 Views» By Heather Lloyd » Blogs, IMS, IMS History, Indy 500, Photography, The Look of the 500

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.


1975 – Balloon Release

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.


1978 – Janet Guthrie

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…


1973 – Infield crowd

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.


1976 – Ronald Reagan and Tony Hulman

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.


1979 – Linda Vaughn

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.


1977 – Rick Mears

With star power, international flair, and a little bit of ’80s excess, the next decade would take the Indianapolis 500 to yet another level.


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.