Lazier Burns Racing Celebrates
20th Anniversary of Buddy Lazier’s
Indianapolis 500 Victory and Goes
For Another One in 100th Running
INDIANAPOLIS, May 18 — This year’s Indianapolis 500 is the 20th anniversary of Buddy Lazier’s victory in the fabled race as well as the 100th running of open-wheel racing’s marque event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It’s been a challenge to put all the pieces of a program together, but Lazier Burns Racing is proud of the #4 Chevrolet it is fielding for Lazier to drive in the 500 on Sunday, May 29. The entry made its shake-down run Monday in preparation for qualifications this weekend.
Lazier, 48, from Vail, Colo., the 2000 Indy Racing League champion, is going for his 19th start in the famous race and his sixth top-five finish, which includes two second-place finishes in 1998 and 2000. It will be the first time a car has been entered under the Lazier Burns Racing name, but the team is full of veterans who didn’t want to miss participating in the 100th running of the biggest race at the world’s most famous racetrack.
Lazier’s victory in 1996 was one of the most moving examples of perseverance and determination in all of sports. He took the checkered flag after driving in pain throughout the month after he broke his back in a crash during practice at Phoenix International Raceway on March 23 of that year. Two bones in his lower back had about 16 fractures and there were 25 large chips out of his sacrum, but he led five times that Sunday in May for a total of 43 laps, including the one that counted for both Lazier and car owner Ron Hemelgarn. After the race Lazier admitted, “The last 10 laps were as risky as I would ever want to be…basically all out.”
Lazier Burns Racing co-owner Bob Lazier is also well known to race fans. Besides being the father of Buddy and seven-time Indy 500 starter Jaques Lazier, he drove in the Indy 500 himself in 1981, the same year he was CART’s Rookie of the Year. Now 77, he is the Lazier family’s most-recent winner at IMS, as he and Jim Caudle won the Indy Legends Pro-Am last June during the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association’s Brickyard Racing Invitational in a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette.
Colorado residents are also well acquainted with the Lazier family. In addition to their motorsports accomplishments, they built and operate the multi-award-winning Tivoli Lodge resort in Vail.
The team’s other co-owner is Indianapolis-based contractor Thom Burns of Burns Development. He might not be as well known to race fans, but he’s been involved in racing for years too. His Burns Racing fielded the cars that Dominic Dobson drove in the Indy 500 in 1991, 1992 and 1993. He was also involved with Jeff Andretti’s IndyCar program around the same time.
Other key members of the team include veteran team manager Larry Curry of Avon, Ind., who is known for his skills setting up cars for oval tracks. He helped guide Hoosier Tony Stewart to the 1997 Indy Racing League championship.
Jeff Matthews of Speedway, Ind., who has worked behind the scenes on Indy 500 programs with drivers such as Jack Hewitt, Sam Hornish Jr., Jimmy Kite and Thiago Medeiros, to name a few, is also instrumental to the Lazier Burns Racing program in many ways, including marketing. He also designed the car’s livery and created the 20th anniversary logo the team is using to commemorate Lazier’s 1996 Indy 500 victory.
Prior to arriving in Gasoline Alley last week, the Lazier Burns Dallara was prepared by veteran IndyCar mechanics Butch Winkle and Damon Sturrock at Sturrock’s auto restoration business, Snakepit Customs, on Indianapolis’s Northeast side.
“We’re very proud of our car,” said Matthews, who is also the vice president of the Speedway Town Council. “We have the current aero package and everything on this car is fresh and has been carefully gone through.”
Although Lazier Burns Racing is currently without a primary sponsor, it is grateful for the support it has already gotten from Indiana businesses, including:
* OnLine Transport, a national trucking company based in Greenfield;
* Daniel’s Family Winery and Vineyard of McCordsville;
* Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, which is headquartered in Indianapolis but has offices in all 92 counties;
* Harding Group, an Indiana organization of paving and related construction companies headquartered in Fishers;
* Brewer Custom Floors and More of Avon;
* Fatheadz, an Indianapolis-based manufacturer of oversized sunglasses and extra-wide eyewear for large heads;
* Dawson’s on Main, an upscale restaurant with a casual atmosphere on Main Street in Speedway, and
* Barbecue and Bourbon, another restaurant on Main Street in Speedway that offers Memphis-style, traditional wood-smoked barbecue.