1996: A tale of two cars | VailDaily.com

1996: A tale of two cars

That's your beloved Uncle Randy, far left, on his knees. That's his wife's 1969 Cadillac Coup de Ville that caught fire at the top of Vail Pass. Mike Kelly is there, and they're trying to figure out what to tell his wife. Eventually, they settled on the truth.

Editor’s note: This is the 16th part of a 30-part series about the Vail Daily’s 30th anniversary and the news that has appeared over the years. The series will run every day on page A2 leading up to the anniversary, which is June 15.

See that photo with the car on fire?

That’s my wife’s 1969 Cadillac Coup de Ville. It’s blue, or was, and was powered by a 472-cubic-inch V-8 engine.

The Caddy would ascend Vail Pass at rates well above the posted speed limit and pass everything on the road except a gas station.

It was 22 feet long. It was beautiful.

When we met for our first date, she drove the Cadillac. When she opened the trunk and it was bigger than the East Vail apartment I was living in, I fell to my knees and proposed on the spot.

Recommended Stories For You

She said no.

Fast forward a few years, and I was trying to be a Baptist minister. I was driving the Caddy from Eagle to Copper Mountain for a How-To-Start-Your-Own-Baptist-Church-Just-Add-Water seminar. The Caddy’s Valdez-sized gas tank was full.

Headed up Vail Pass (at less than the posted speed limit, I promise) the Caddy caught fire.

It takes about two hours for a 22-foot-long Cadillac to burn to the ground, which is exactly the same amount of time the blaze kept Interstate 70 closed.

That’s me on my knees, for obviously different reasons, and Mike Kelly beside me. We’re trying to figure out what I’m going to tell my wife.

And while we’re moving at insanely high speeds, Vail’s Buddy Lazier, who drives Indy cars for a living, chased down his dream and won the Indianapolis 500.

This was Buddy’s seventh trip to the Brickyard, and after seven attempts at Indy with four starts and no finishes, Lazier finally made it to the winner’s circle.

By winning the 500, Lazier overcame injuries he suffered in a horrific crash at the Phoenix International Raceway that almost left him paralyzed.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.