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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.