VAIL, Colorado - Buddy Lazier, the Vail native who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1995, is scrambling to line up another chance to win at the Brickyard.
"At this point we're kind of half and half," Lazier said. "We're close with about three different programs with the 500. I'll be there, but don't have anything signed just yet."
Lazier, 42, will travel to Indianapolis on Thursday to work with teams and sponsors to try to gain a spot in the May 30 race. At the same time, the lifelong Vail resident is hoping to secure a deal that will put him in position to succeed on the full Indy circuit over the next four or five years.
"Right now I'm focusing on getting back into a car that can win," Lazier said.
Lazier said he decided that he still has a few good years of racing left, and he wants to make a career-ending push.
"I'm not finished yet," Lazier said. "I have too much passion."
But, with the economy struggling, sponsorship money has become hard to come by. Lazier noted that there are just four American drivers with full-time sponsorships, and the majority of the field is filled with Brazilians and Australians.
"This is essentially the bottom line," said Bob Lazier, Buddy's father, the owner of the Tivoli Lodge in Vail Village and a former race car driver. "The money is just not coming the way it used to come."
Bob Lazier put Buddy's chances of racing this year at the Indy 500 at "50-50 at best."
"He still wants to win," Bob Lazier said. "Quite frankly, he has a lot of miles at that race - maybe 60,000. A huge number of miles on that race track."
Buddy Lazier did not qualify last year, racing with Hemelgard, the team with whom he's raced for most of his 21 years at the Indy 500 qualifiers.
When he failed to qualify last year, he ended his streak of 14 consecutive Indy starts. The car he ended up with last year was just "not capable," and there wasn't much he could do with it, Lazier said.
Besides his Indy 500 win in 1995, Buddy's best finishes in the race include second place in 1998 and 2000, fourth in 1997, and fifth in 2005.
Lazier made an unsuccessful bid for Vail Town Council in last November's election.
Buddy's younger brother, Jaques, will not be competing in the Indy 500 this year after a deal with A.J. Foyt's team fell apart at the last minute, Bob Lazier said.
Jaques Lazier last raced in the Indy 500 in 2007, when he finished in 27th.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.