Buddy Lazier won the Indianapolis 500 in 1996 and took the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Championship in 2000.
Robert Buddy Lazier is an American open-wheel racecar driver born in Vail, Colorado on 31 October 1967. He first appeared in a few CART races in 1989 but never completed a full season.
In preparation for the founding of the Indy Racing League in 1996, he signed with Ron Hemelgarn's Hemelgarn Racing whom he drove in the Indianapolis 500 for in 1991. Buddy was one of the drivers in the first IRL race and won the 1996 Indianapolis 500, the first sanctioned by the IRL despite suffering a major back injury earlier in the season.
Following the fame and money of the Indy win, a strong partnership between Buddy, Hemelgarn, and sponsor Delta Faucet formed. In 2000 he took two wins, three runner-up finishes, a fourth-place finish and a seventh-place finish out of nine races to take the Indy Racing League title . Mechanical problems caused his worst finishes of 22nd and 26th.
He did everything he could to defend his 2000 title. He won four races and had four other Top-10 finishes, but he couldn't match the consistency of eventual 2001 champion Sam Hornish Jr. Although he didn't win the IRL title, Lazier came close by winning four out of five races during a late-summer run and leading 438 laps of competition. He ended the season second, 105 points behind Hornish.
Following the influx of former CART Teams and the new engine suppliers in 2002, Lazier and Hemelgarn found it difficult to compete at the level that they had before and they lost their sponsor following the 2003 season. Buddy only completed in the Indy 500 in 2004 for Hemelgarn and was signed to drive the 2005 Indy 500 for the Byrd Brothers and Panther Racing, placing fifth in the race, ahead of Panther's 2 regular drivers Tomas Enge and Tomas Scheckter in a race that many believe may have resurrected his career. Both Buddy's father Bob Lazier and brother Jaques Lazier are veterans of the Indy 500 as well.
In 2005, Buddy acquired a four-race deal with Panther Racing to drive the No. 95 Pennzoil/American Sentry Guard Dallara/Chevrolet. However, he received an extra race in Enge's No. 2 Rockstar Energy Drink Dallara/Chevrolet at Milwaukee on July 24, 2005. Enge was injured during a crash at the Nashville Superspeedway during the Firestone Indy 200 a week earlier. He logged four top-tens in the No. 95 and an 18th-place finish in Enge's No.2 car. With Panther's contraction to a single car in 2006, Lazier was forced to search for another team, which he found in Robbie Buhl's Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
In 2006, Lazier raced in seven events for DRR with a best finish of 12th in the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500. He was replaced by Aussie, Ryan Briscoe for the Watkins Glen International race as Briscoe finished third. He was replaced again by Briscoe after the Kansas Speedway race on July 2, finishing a disappointing 15th after starting seventh. He returned for the Michigan International Speedway race in August, but Sarah Fisher finished the season for the team in the two remaining races that Briscoe was not contracted for in the IRL.
Lazier's racing resume also includes stints in CART, Formula Ford, the American IndyCar Series, SCCA and Supercross. He has led 24 races for a total of 1,021 laps of competition and earned more than $6 million in his career.
He lives in Vail, Colorado, with wife Kara and their child, Flinn.