The 1990 Indianapolis 500, the 74th running of America’s greatest race at the legendary Brickyard, went into the record books – and stayed there for almost a quarter of a century.
The third round of the CART IndyCar World Series at motorsport’s temple of speed was won by Arie Luyendyk, the Dutchman’s Shierson Racing Lola-Chevrolet completing the 500-mile race in 2h41m – one of only nine events to finish in under three hours since it first ran in 1911.
Luyendyk only led 37 of the 200 laps, but was there when it counted and stopped the clock at an average speed of 185.98mph, including pitstops. It was a marker that added almost 15mph to the previous record, set by Bobby Rahal in 1986.
Luyendyk’s Domino’s Pizza-sponsored Lola held off Rahal for his maiden series win, with 1989 winner Emerson Fittipaldi taking third for Penske.
Commentator Bobby Unser, himself a three-time Indy 500 winner, predicted at the end that it would be a long time before Luyendyk’s winning speed would be bettered, and he wasn’t wrong. Not until 2013, when Brazilian Tony Kanaan won for KV Racing at 187.4mph, would the 24-year-old benchmark be eclipsed.