INDIANAPOLIS – Buddy Lazier is building for the future after racing only in the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil since 2013.
Now 49, Lazier is best remembered for his exultant comeback to win the 80th running of the Indianapolis 500 after breaking his back in a crash at the Phoenix International Raceway a month before the 1996 race.
He will move into eighth place on the all-time Indy 500 starts list with 20 when he rolls off the grid 30th Sunday in his No. 44 Lazier Racing Stalk It-Tivoli Chevrolet. The Vail, Colorado, native now has his sights set on becoming a full-time fixture in the Verizon IndyCar Series as a team owner along with his father, Bob.
“It’s now the time to do it the way we intended to do it all along,” Lazier said. “I don’t intend to race a hell of a lot longer, but I’m not entirely finished. I’d like to come here and do it the right way with a chance to win, a chance to set fast times day in and day out, but beyond that it’s time to start building this race team to be a full-time effort.”
He added that one of his biggest struggles has been finding the necessary funding and the right associates to put a car on the track.
“The hard part for us is getting the right partners together,” said Lazier, the 2000 Verizon IndyCar Series champion and winner of eight career Indy car races in a career that began in 1990. “Originally, the program started with a lot of guys that were in the petroleum industry. They are great partners even today, but they’ve experienced challenges in their business model.
“The key is to have partners that are diverse enough that can have a certain amount of resources year in and year out that you can count on. That is what separates the good teams from the super teams.”
Lazier also is concentrating on helping 18-year-old son Flinn build his own racing career. The younger Lazier made his Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda debut at Barber Motorsports Park last month driving for Newman Wachs Racing, finishing 22nd and 12th in the two races.
Flinn is set to start school at Denver University this fall to major in marketing and business management. While he has also struggled to find backing to keep racing, his father feels a strong business education will help Flinn build a racing career.
“He’s really focused on understanding the industry and knowing what it takes, which are corporate partnerships,” Buddy Lazier said. “Your program from racing needs to work from them. Everybody needs to win and he is developing in that area very well.”
As Buddy’s driving career nears an end, the proud father does have one bucket list item in the sport. He would like to race with his son at the Indianapolis 500.
“I know his mother has always thought that it would be cool to have the two of us race together once here,” Buddy said. “I would enjoy that. I’m not 100 percent sure how much time I have left in terms of years, but I’m not there yet.”
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