1997 Indianapolis 500
The 81st Indianapolis 500 was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway over three days, May 25–27, 1997. It was originally scheduled Sunday, May 25, however, rain washed out all activities for the day. The race was started on Monday May 26, but rain halted the race after only 15 laps. On Tuesday May 27, the race resumed, and was run to completion.
It was the second Indianapolis 500 held as part of the USAC-sanctioned Indy Racing League, and was part of the 1996-97 Pep Boys Indy Racing League season. It marked the introduction of a new production-based, normally aspirated engine formula as well as a new chassis design.
A controversy during qualifying saw two additional cars added to the field after the close of time trials. It was only the second time since 1933 that more than the traditional 33 cars comprised the starting grid.
With two laps to go, polesitter Arie Luyendyk led teammate Scott Goodyear. A caution came out on the 199th lap, but the pace car did not come out to pick up the field. Without warning, the green and white flag were displayed at the starter's stand on the final lap, signifying the field was back to racing conditions. None of the cars in the field were prepared for the restart, and yellow lights remained illuminated for many seconds afterwards. Luyendyk held on to win, but controversy erupted regarding the officials' poor handling of the situation. Less than a month later, USAC was permanently removed from sanctioning the IRL and Indy 500, in favor of in-house officiating.
The victory by Luyendyk marked the milestone 50th Indianapolis 500 victory for Firestone.