Welcome Back, Buddy Lazier
It’s been exactly 20 years since he won the the Indy 500. Now, at 48, he returns as the oldest driver in the field.
It’s been about 26 years since Buddy Lazier made his first trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That year, 1989, Lazier was among the youngest drivers to attempt to qualify for the race.
Now, in 2016, gearing up for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, Lazier sees himself as the oldest driver in the field.
“When I first started Indy-car racing,” says Lazier, the 1996 winner of the race, “I met with a few team owners, and I showed them all that I had won in sports cars, Formula Ford, and Formula Vee.”
Lazier continues, “I usually got the same response from the owners. It was: ‘Son, that’s great, but these are $40 million race cars. Come back when you’re forty-something and have a little more experience.’”
At age 48, Lazier has the most experience of anyone in the race. However, team owners are not interested in signing him to drive for their team. Rather, team owners are on the lookout for the youngest talent they can find.
That hasn’t stopped Lazier.
Buddy, along with father Bob and brother Jacques, car owner Thom Burns, and crew chief Larry Curry, are back at the Speedway under the team name Lazier Burns Racing.
Though the Lazier team has been back at the track the last three years, this is the first year they have been on track for the entire month.
Previously, Lazier and his team came to Indianapolis running Chevrolet’s short program. That means they could not practice until the Thursday before qualifying. The limited knowledge of the car hurt the team’s performance.
This year, the addition of Thom Burns allowed for the Lazier team to prepare for the race better than they ever had before.
“[Thom] has been a good partner. We’re happy to have him,” says Lazier.
The addition of sponsorships to the car can be attributed to the help of Thom Burns. That sponsorship money hopefully will help the team grow.
“I hope that five years down the road it’s a full time program,” says Lazier in regards to the future of his team. “Hopefully at least a two car team.”
For Thom Burns, the goal is more focused on the Indy 500. “As long as we’re going up [on track] and not down, we’ll be happy,” said Burns.
As for Lazier, he turns his attention as well to the 500.
“The Indy 500 is a very special event for all of us,” says Lazier. “I love the fact that on race day you have every kind of race fan watching this race.”
On race day, Buddy Lazier will start the 100th Indianapolis 500 from the 32nd position. Lazier will be the oldest driver in the field. However for Buddy and the rest of his team, age is nothing but a number.