Everyone has a best buddy at some point in their life.
A childhood friend, a roommate, an adult-aged best friend, something along those lines. But rarely does an entire community have one, much less a buddy who takes the word so seriously it’s his first name.
As many of you know, right here in the happy valley we have our very own Buddy, and he has called Vail his only home from the moment he was born on Halloween of 1967.
If you have to ask why it is such a big deal this week in particular, then you haven’t been around these parts too long or you’re certainly not paying proper attention now.
His mom and dad, Bob and Diane Lazier, have been here since Vail’s opening season, first building the Wedel Inn (now the Austria Haus) and for the past 45 years owning the Tivoli Lodge.
A former Indy 500 racer himself, Bob has been able to watch his son compete in the legendary “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” 16 times, with six top five finishes, including a win in 1996.
And Buddy is doing it again, at the ripe young age of 45, competing this Sunday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the largest spectator sporting facility in the world, with more than 250,000 permanent seats.
That’s a whole lot of derriere parking.
But Buddy however, hasn’t been parking anything these past few weeks.
While most of us have been busy driving car pools, going to work, picking up groceries, hanging at the gym, the bar or playing solitaire, Buddy Lazier has been busy running dozens of training laps around a 2.5 mile oval track, averaging a mere 223 mph.
At that rate you could make it from East Vail to downtown Denver in a little under 30 minutes (depending upon State Patrol placement).
Involved with chasing down the Borg-Warner trophy since his rookie year in 1989, Buddy had an incredible 14-year streak of qualifying, and though he hasn’t attempted to do so since 2009, has more experience on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track than any other racer in this weekend’s field.
Ironically, the field also includes two others whose fathers have a history of making turns on the hallowed track: Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal. Impressive lineages both, but neither coming close to matching Lazier’s experience. Don’t let the age fool you, as the legendary Al Unser won the race at 47.
So this Sunday, put down the phone, turn off the computer, turn on the TV, grab a tasty adult beverage (if you are so inclined) and cheer for the black and orange rocket on wheels (fitting for a Halloween baby, don’t you think?).
No. 91 will be burning up the track faster than any of us could ever dream of going without wings, and rumor has it he’ll be doing it with a Vail Mountain School sticker placed strategically somewhere for the world to see (as long as it doesn’t contribute to any extra wind drag).
Either way, Lazier has been first and he’s been last, but no matter the outcome this weekend, he will always be the best Buddy that Vail has ever had.
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.