The Look of the 500: 1990s

Published On November 7, 2014 » 4375 Views» By Heather Lloyd » Blogs, IMS, IMS History, Indy 500, Photography, The Look of the 500

For all the 1980s was, the 1990s was decidedly less. Less wild, less loud, less extravagant, less hairspray…

It was also a time of American unrest socially, racially, economically, and politically. And while the race of the decade will always be remembered as O.J. Simpson’s slow-speed chase up a California highway in 1994, it was business as usual at The Racing Capital of the World.


1990 – Dave Calabro and Jim Nabors

The 1990s began with new leadership at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Anton “Tony” George took over as president of the Speedway in January. It was the first time anyone from the Hulman family had held the position since the death of his grandfather, Tony Hulman, in 1977.

1990 - Tony George

1990 – Tony George

In a sign of the times, one of George’s first orders of business was to make the track a more family-friendly place. The Snake Pit was removed from the Turn 1 infield (though the tales of debauchery remained).


1998 – Aerial view of IMS

We still loved hair in the ’90s, just a little less of it. We also loved denim and were clad in it from head to toe for much of the decade.



Chunky heels had a moment. And we also had a brief and tragic relationship with vamp-colored lipstick (which many of us are still trying to forget).



The Indianapolis 500 and its love affair with celebrities continued on throughout the ’90s, with appearances by some of the biggest motor-loving stars of the decade.

1991 - John Travolta

1991 – John Travolta


1999 – Jay Leno

And remember those little Andretti kids from the 1960s? Well, they’re all grown up now. And racing in the Indy 500! The Andretti family made “500” history in 1991, marking the first time four members of the same family raced against each other. Though none of them came out victors, they did become the “first family” of racing.


1991 – Jeff Andretti, John Andretti, Michael Andretti, Mario Andretti

Though we didn’t see it right away, technology was changing the world around us in ways we could never have imagined in the ’90s. By the end of the decade, fear of the year 2000 and the havoc it might wreak on our one-click lives (better known as the Y2K problem) captured the headlines and created a new breed of survivalists.



The world didn’t end in 1999. And neither did the Indianapolis 500. In fact, it weathered its own storms and stood ready to greet the new millennium and all that came with it.


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.