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1997: 500 Festival Parade floats lost in fire

1997: 500 Festival Parade floats lost in fire
1997: 500 Festival Parade floats lost in fire
1997: 500 Festival Parade floats lost in fire
1997: 500 Festival Parade floats lost in fire
1997: 500 Festival Parade floats lost in fire
Posted at 4:51 PM, May 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-09 16:51:06-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Basketball and racing were often in the spotlight throughout Indiana's history, and 1997 was no different. 

Indianapolis welcome NCAA Final Four fans to the RCA Dome in March. Arizona took home the title, and the focus shifted to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Just four days ahead of the Green Flag, attention shifted again, this time to the 500 Festival Parade, where a fire destroyed most of the floats.

The parade went on as planned, with huge posters of the designs on flat-bed trucks in the floats' place. 

Another set-back came on race day: Rain made the whole day a washout.

The race started on Monday, but was stopped again for rain after 15 laps. Finally on Tuesday, the race resumed and finished dry.

The third day of action started out as a battle between The Flying Dutchman Arie Luyendyk and Tony Stewart, but in the end, Luyendyk pulled head and held off teammate Scott Goodyear to win his second Indianapolis 500.

The finish wasn't routine, however. A caution came out on Lap 199 after Stewart hit the wall. 

Teams expected the race to finish under caution, but the pace car did not come out and instead the green and white flags were displayed at the starter's stand on the final lap. 

The track was back to green and the drivers were not prepared for the restart, giving Luyendyk the edge since he was already out front. The officials' poor handling of the situation led to USAC being removed less than a month later as the sanctioning body of the IRL and Indy 500 in favor of in-house officiating.

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