VAIL — Vail’s fastest favorite son is back in the Brickyard.
Vail native Buddy Lazier has a ride in this year’s 97th running of the Indianapolis 500.
“This all happened roughly 10 days ago, and we’re literally putting everything together now. Sponsors are coming by the day, but we’re all heading to Indianapolis to get it done,” Lazier said in a statement released by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Lazier won the Indy 500 in 1996, leading 43 laps.
Lazier will try to qualify next weekend in the Chevrolet-powered No. 91 car. Lazier’s 1996 Indy 500 title also came in a number 91 car, the Hemelgarn Racing-Delta Faucet-Montana car. He started fifth in that field.
It’s a family affair. The car is owned by Lazier Partners Racing, which is owned by Bob Lazier, Buddy’s father who also raced in the Indy 500. Bob’s brother and Buddy’s uncle, Jaques Lazier, also raced in the Indy 500.
The Lazier family built and owns the Tivoli Lodge in Vail. Buddy was raised in Vail.
Buddy has logged more than 2,600 racing laps in Indianapolis. He last attempted to qualify in 2009 and last made the race in 2008, when he started 32nd and finished 17th.
“I have so many miles around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that I feel comfortable with the racetrack. I haven’t driven this new rules package (twin-turbocharged V-6 Chevrolet engine and new chassis) but I was around with turbo-charged engines before the Indy Racing League was formed. I’m looking forward to it,” Buddy said.
Fast and faster
Lazier has raced on a shoestring budget and with top teams. In 16 starts at the Speedway, he has five top-five finishes.
“When I was 19 years old, I was trying to pass my rookie test with an all-volunteer crew in a machinist’s union car that was given to us,” Buddy said. “So I’ve done it where it’s last minute and I’ve been there with some of the best teams of their era.”
Lazier Partners bought the chassis from Lotus.
“We had a good opportunity to buy this car, which is basically brand new,” Buddy said. “We were sitting around with a bunch of friends who are businessmen and skiers talking about how we could buy this car, put a team together and run Indy. I come back the next day and these guys bought it.”
Buddy said he had to explain to them that it’s not inexpensive. They’d need a budget for their Indy run, which includes leasing an engine. The process continued, they hung in there and they’re in Indy preparing for the qualifying attempt.
“I know the car will be fast. I just don’t know how much track time we’ll get before qualifying,” Buddy said.
Bob Lazier was the 1981 CART Rookie of the Year. He started 13th in that year’s Indy 500, finishing 19th when his engine blew.
“Buddy has been counting the days before he could get going again,” Bob said. “He’s worked hard, the whole family has as well, and I think we’re more thrilled than the first time we were there.”
Other winners entering this year’s race are Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves, both with three victories, and 2008 winner Scott Dixon.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935, and firstname.lastname@example.org.