In the 1980s, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway looked like an episode of “I Love the ’80s” on VH1. For a decade that was all about fast cars, beautiful women, and expensive hobbies, the Indianapolis 500 served as the perfect playground.
For the first time in 1989, the winner’s share of the Indy 500 prize exceeded $1,000,000. A fitting tribute to an era where cash was king. And no one was afraid to show it.
Cable television came along in the ’80s and changed the world as we knew it. And when a channel launched playing music videos, the MTV generation was born. Suddenly, it was the rock bands of the ’80s setting trends from hair to fashion (they didn’t call them “hair bands” for nothing).
This group of female fans knew how to properly do the 80s. Big hair … check. Reebok high tops … check. Acid-washed jeans … check. Dangling earrings … check.
But again, it was mostly about the hair. I swear, my mother had this exact same hairdo in 1983, even down to the color. Only back then, it wasn’t called highlighting, it was “frosted.” Sadly, Mom did not have the heart-shaped sunglasses to go with it.
For men, one hairstyle in particular represented the ’80s and its work hard/play hard mentality. “Business in the front, party in the back” was the mantra. But as a look, it was tricky to pull off. Because, I mean, who really looks glamorous in a mullet? Two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, that’s who!
The celebrities who appear at the Indy 500 are always iconic figures of their time. But, perhaps none quite so fitting as this celebrity guest in 1986. Yes, it’s David Hasselhoff, better known as “The Hoff.”
Before he was famous for his role in “Baywatch,” Hasselhoff starred in “Knight Rider”. And before he hung out with beach babes in red swimsuits, he hung out with “500” royalty at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
And some trends were even set at the Indy 500. Racing equipment spokesmodel Linda Vaughn was famous for draping herself over cars long before Tawny Kitaen became a household name for doing the same thing in a Whitesnake video in the ’80s.
Inspired by Michael Jackson, breakdancing was also a big ’80s thing. Doing it in the mud was not a thing, but leave it to the “500” crowd to try it anyway.
And did you think I’d leave this out? For the first time in 1985, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted members of the Indianapolis Colts, who had just played their first season in their new city and finished with a record of 4-12.
Bigger and better things were on the horizon for the Indianapolis Colts. And the same can be said for the Indianapolis 500 in the next decade. The ’90s would bring more horsepower and more star power to The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.