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Bob Lazier succumbs to COVID-19

April 21, 2020

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Bob Lazier is the latest member of the motorsports community to be felled by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Lazier, father of 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy and fellow INDYCAR competitor Jaques, passed in a Denver hospital this weekend after a fervent battle against the pandemic. He was, until this virus felled him, a vibrant 81 years old.

Lazier, who had an enviable career in smaller formula cars, excelling in Formula Vee and SuperVee in the 1970s, did race some Formula 5000 before coming to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1981, where he earned Rookie of the Year honors, starting 13th and finishing 19th. Lazier earned the same rookie award in CART that year. He was a “one-and-done” racer at Indy, as then 14-year-old Buddy begged his father not to race in 1982 after Gordon Smiley’s horrific and deadly accident.

Known as “Easy Money” during his SCCA years for an ability to rack up the wins, Bob Lazier hung up his helmet after not racing the 1982 Indy 500, but never lost his love for the sport. When both Buddy and Jaques showed interest, their cheering section and closest advisor was their dad, who could be seen at INDYCAR races through the 2019 season, whether his kids were racing or not.

Buddy Lazier, of course won the Indianapolis 500 in 1996, the first year of Indy Racing League competition at the Brickyard. He raced with a broken back (from a Phoenix accident) and showed the world what true grit and determination looks like.

In 2013, Bob Lazier started Lazier Racing Partners to aid Buddy’s career in the latter stages of his older son’s competitive days, but with little funding and always-late entries, they never managed to finish higher than 25th and ceased to enter after 2017.

Bob Lazier built and owned Tivoli Lodge in Vail, Colorado. He was one of the first to set up stakes in the mountainous area of Vail, coming to the town in 1960 and using European ideas to construct his first hotel, which he extensively remodeled in the past decade. He considered himself a “guardian of the mountain” and made sure everyone who stayed at or visited Tivoli Lodge felt like a member of the Lazier family.

Bob Lazier, a man beloved for his kindness to everyone he ever met, is survived by his wife, Diane, Buddy and Jaques, daughter Wendy and several grandchildren, including grandson Finn, who looks to be the next Lazier to pull on a helmet at Indy.

Words and Photo By Anne Proffit

 

(I’ve known Bob Lazier since his Vee and Super Vee days; his kindness and generosity, that winning smile will help him live on in my memories)

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