1990 (Winner: Arie Luyendyk)
Popular Dutchman Arie Luyendyk took the lead in his famous Domino’s Pizza, Chevy-Lola with 32 laps to go and was never headed. His average lap speed of 185.981mph (299.307kph) stood as a record until 2013. Defending Champion and race pole-sitter, Emerson Fittipaldi dominated the first half of the race, looking to become the first back-to-back winner in 20 years.
In the second half of the race, however, he fell victim to blistering tires, lost a lap, and wind up finishing third. Bobby Rahal, the 1986 winner, was in position to win his second Indy 500, but he too suffered handling problems, which dropped him to second at the finish.
John Andretti attempted to become the fourth member of the Andretti clan to qualify, but was bumped on the final day. The 1990 race was also the first Indy 500 presided over by Tony George, who was named president of the Speedway in January – and as we’d soon see would create his own mark on the direction of the Indy 500…
1991 (Winner: Rick Mears)
Rick Mears became the third driver to record four Indy 500 wins in 1991, joining AJ Foyt and Al Unser Sr. On the way he also claimed a record sixth pole position. This success came after he suffered his first ever crash at Indy since his debut in 1977. The practice crash destroyed his primary car and badly injured his right foot.
Mears later admitted that pain he was experiencing during the race was so bad, he had to cross his legs in the car and push the accelerator pedal down with his left foot. The race also featured the first African American driver to qualify for the Indy 500, Willy T. Ribbs. It also saw its first Japanese driver, Hiro Matsushita.
For the first time in Indy history, four members of the same family qualified for the same race. Mario, Michael, Jeff, and John Andretti competed together. Michael, Mario and John all finished in the top ten, while Jeff was named the Rookie of the Year. Mears won the Michigan 500 later in the year – the final two wins of his great career.
1992 (Winner: Al Unser Jr)
1992 produced the closest finish in Indy 500 history when Al Unser Jr held off Scott Goodyear by just 0.043 of a second. Unser Jr became the first second-generation driver to win the Indy 500 following in the footsteps of his father Al and also his uncle Bobby. The race was held on a wind-swept cold day and started in dramatic fashion when pole sitter Roberto Guerrero crashed on the warm-up lap.
Michael Andretti dominated the race in the debut of the Ford Cosworth XB engine.He led 160 laps and was 30 seconds in the lead when a fuel pump failed with just 11 laps remaining.
A total of 13 cars crashed from the race and there were more in practice, including an accident which claimed the life of Jovy Marcelo. A record 10 former winners started the race, but it would be the last for AJ Foyt, Rick Mears, Tom Sneva and Gordon Johncock. The win for Unser Jr came at his 10th attempt in his memorable Valvoline machine.
1993: (Winner: Emerson Fittipaldi)
In 1993 four-time winner Al Unser Sr made his 27th and final start. He qualified 23rd and finished 12th. He also finished as the all-time lap leader having led 644 of his 4356 total circuits. Emerson Fittipaldi took the lead with 16 laps to go and won his second career Indy 500.
The pre-race attention for the month focused heavily on rookie Nigel Mansell, the reigning Formula One World Champion, who switched to the CART IndyCar Series during the offseason and promptly won on debut on the Gold Coast. Mansell was competitive all afternoon, and was leading the race on lap 184 as the field was coming to a restart.
His inexperience on oval circuits, however, caused him to misjudge the restart speed and he was quickly passed down the main stretch by Fittipaldi, which proved to be the winning move.
Fittipaldi, Arie Luyendyk and Mansell finished 1-2-3, the first time foreign-born drivers had swept the top three finishing positions since 1915. The other big news in the race lead-up was Bobby Rahal failing to qualify.
1994: (Winner: Al Unser Jr)
In March 1994, after a feud with Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George announces plans for the Indy Racing League (IRL). That was almost as controversial as Team Penske’s move to take full advantage of a USAC rule allowing overhead-valve pushrod engines extra displacement and turbo boost – the Ilmor-Mercedes-Benz 500I was born and produced more than 1000 horsepower.
The three Penske cars dominated the race and Al Unser Jr won his second Indy 500 from Rookie second generation racer, Jacques Villeneuve and Bobby Rahal. This was the final 500 for Mario Andretti. His nephew John Andretti became the first driver to do “double duty” when he drove in both the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR event in Charlotte. It was also the second and final Indy 500 for Nigel Mansell who was taken out in a crash with Dennis Vitolo.
1995: (Winner: Jacques Villeneuve)
In 1995 Jacques Villeneuve helped brothers Barry and Kim Green become the first Australian team owners to win the Indy 500. It was Villeneuve’s second attempt and the fourth appearance of the Ford Cosworth XB engine. On lap 190, with the field coming back to green on a restart, leader Scott Goodyear passed the pace car in turn four, and was assessed a stop-and-go penalty.
Goodyear refused to serve the penalty, claiming that the green light was on, and stayed out on the track. Officials stopped scoring him on lap 195, which handed Jacques Villeneuve the lead of the race, and ultimately, a controversial victory. Examination of video evidence after the race proved that Goodyear passed the pace car while the yellow light was on, and his team declined to protest the ruling.
Incredibly Villeneuve was penalized two laps earlier for passing the safety car under yellow and through strategy and luck he punched his way back. After dominating the 1994 race and season, Team Penske failed to qualify for the race.
The race was marred by a massive crash involving Stan Fox on the opening lap. With the IRL looming and retirements, this would be the last Indy 500 for several drivers including Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Teo Fabi, Scott Pruett and Stefan Johansson and Fittipaldi, who failed to qualify. This year also saw the 50th anniversary of the Hulman-George family ownership of the speedway.
1996: (Winner: Buddy Lazier)
The 1996 race was the 80th and the first held as part of the new Indy Racing League. It was the third and final race of the IRL season and won by Buddy Lazier. Months of controversy surrounded the race because of the CART-IRL split.
CART ran a competing race, the US 500 at Michigan, when IRL boss Tony George indicated he would be locking out the first 25 spots on the Indy grid for regular IRL teams and CART teams would have to try and qualify for the remaining eight spots. There were many new teams to bring cars to the race and Arie Luyendyk was the only former winner in the field.
He set a four-lap qualifying record of 236.986mph (379.1776kph). The lead up was marred by the death of pole sitter Scott Brayton while practicing a backup car. Firestone returned to victory lane for the first time since 1971 in what would be the end of the turbocharged era until 2012. Lazier won the race from Davy Jones and rookie Richie Hearn, while Tony Stewart was classified 24th after engine issues on lap 83.
1997: (Winner: Arie Luyendyk)
The politics continued in 1997 with the race part of a newly-configured 1996-97 Pep Boys Indy Racing League season. A dramatic new engine and chassis combination was adapted, which eliminated CART teams from entering with their regular equipment. Entrants were now required to run normally-aspirated 4.0 litre 32-valve production-based engines from Oldsmobile-Aurora or Nissan-Infiniti in Dallara or G-Force chassis.
The changes were designed to cut costs, lower speeds and make the racing closer. After setting an all-time track record of 236.986mph (379.1776kph) a year earlier, Arie Luyendyk‘s top lap for qualifying in 1997 would drop to 217 mph (347.2kph) mph.
Controversy continued when two more starting spots were added to cater for regular IRL teams who had not made the top 33 – the first time since 1933. Luyendyk led home teammate Scott Goodyear after a controversial restart on lap 199 that caught most of the field by surprise.
A few weeks later it was decided to remove USAC officials from the race in favor of in-house officials. It was Firestone’s 50th race win and the third time Scott Goodyear had narrowly lost the race in the closing stages.
1998: (Winner: Eddie Cheever)
The race was fully sanctioned by the Indy Racing League for the first time in 1998. Eddie Cheever Jr, a former F1 competitor and Indy rookie in 1990, highlighted his racing career by clinching the ‘98 Indy 500.
This was the first year of a compacted month of May which eliminated a week of practice and trimmed qualifying from four days to two. The controversial lock out of the first 25 spots on the grid was also eliminated and all 33 starting spots placed up for grabs.
Billy Boat secured the first pole position for an AJ Foyt team since 1975. After a restart with five laps to go, Cheever and Buddy Lazier were nose-to-tail. Cheever stretched the lead to win by 3.19 seconds.
Steve Knapp was the only other driver on the lead lap and was named rookie of the year. CART teams continued to stay away and ran the Motorola 300 in St Louis on the Saturday.
1999: (Winner: Kenny Brack)
AJ Foyt returned to victory lane for the fifth time at the Indy 500 in 1999, this time as a team owner. Winning four times as driver in 1961, 64, 67 and 1977, Foyt hired Kenny Brack to be a teammate to Billy Boat and Robbie Buhl.
Brack became the first and only Swedish driver to win the race after he inherited the lead from Robby Gordon who ran out of fuel while in sight of the final lap. It was a great day for Foyt with Boat coming in third and Buhl sixth.
Veteran, Arie Luyendyk took the pole and led 63 laps before getting tangled up with a backmarker he was trying to pass. This was the 29th and final win for Goodyear Tires, who will not return to the speedway until at least 2018.