IRL: Richmond: Buddy Lazier press conference, part II

Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript June 24, 2003 Buddy Lazier Part 2 of 3 Q: I'd like to go ahead and get back to the house again, real quick, if I could ask you a couple of questions about that. Where exactly is it,...

Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
June 24, 2003

Buddy Lazier

Part 2 of 3

Q: I'd like to go ahead and get back to the house again, real quick, if I could ask you a couple of questions about that. Where exactly is it, Buddy, you said you grew up in a small town. Is it in Vail or just outside Vail?

B. Lazier: It's in Vail. It's a very interesting location. I mean, for anybody who's interested in resort communities, it's about as far away from motorsport as could be. But, if you're skiing down the mountain in Vail, all the animals and the bears, they don't like to go in the summertime or spring and fall, they don't like to go across the ski mountain because they are exposed. So actually, all of the wildlife literally, bears, foxes, they all come right down through where our house is. Because it's kind of on the western side of what is Vail Associates or Vail Ski Mountain. And, it's in a place called Glen Lion, which is just about a block outside of Lionshead.

Q: Is the house -- I thought I had heard somewhere that the house was built on the side of a mountain?

B. Lazier: Well, we had to move a lot of dirt. Yes, I mean, for me to afford a lot in this location, it wasn't a lot that many folks felt was an appropriate lot to go build on. So, yes, I had to move a lot of dirt. But, as it turned out, it was one of the easiest digs we've ever had to do. We had to move much dirt, though. It is sort of in the side of a mountain. But, it's not too bad, maybe 20 percent of the back, if you took a square and you put a 20 percent angle down the back, that's about the elevation that the mountain, that the house is stuck in. But, it's been quite a learning experience. I've been around construction all my life. As I grew up, my father, though he raced Indy cars and was a professional race driver, the way he made a living was being a developer here in Vail, Colorado, and elsewhere. And, you know, I had to help out. I was always around pounding nails and doing general labor. And, therefore, I have the skills that I needed to build our own house. Nevertheless, auto racing, for me in particular, I need to focus 100 percent. It's just the way I am. I'm a racing driver or a creature of focus. So what happens is I'm constantly thinking about racing during the race season. And we're trying to finish off the house. And, much to wife's frustration, you know, racing comes first. But, the house is a beautiful house. And it's really kind of the American dream. I mean, to be able to build your own home and to do it the way you want to do it. It's a beautiful place. And, it's something to be really proud of to spend two years building a home of that nature.

Q: Buddy, you talk about your dad. Is he still involved in that area?

B. Lazier: Not particularly, although, he's planning some big projects down the road. We've always owned a family lodge here in Vail. And, I actually grew up on the top floor of what is the family lodge. It's called the Tivoli Lodge. It's a wonderful ski hotel right in the heart of Vail. And, that's been one of the Lazier family businesses. And the Tivoli Lodge, when my father and mother first came to Colorado from Minnesota right after they were married, they went to work, my father as a bartender and my mother as a waitress. And they saw a vision. They had a dream that they could build. There was no employee housing. The mountain had just opened, one lift, back in the sixties. They had a vision that they needed to build something for the employees. So they built a little employee-housing unit. Then they had the vision that there needed to be another hotel, so they built a hotel. They sold those and then had enough money to buy the hotel that is the Tivoli Lodge that they own now. Then they went and developed other things in town, such as some shopping centers and apartment complexes. So really at the end of the day, I think in some ways, my father's racing career is related to the success of Vail, Colorado, as a ski resort. And of course, because of that success, he was able to support me in my early stages of motorsports. So Vail has been very good to us. He's planning on tearing down the Tivoli Lodge that we currently operate and that he and my mother live in on the top floor. They're going to tear it down after next winter and rebuild it so that it remains a premiere property here in Vail. So that's their next big project that they have planned.

Q: Interesting. And one last question. I know Vail's not a very big town, Buddy but are you recognized there? Do people know who you and who your father are?

B. Lazier: I think to some degree, yes. I mean, it's an interesting community because there are a lot of folks that come in to ski for a year or to be a ski bum for a couple of years. And let's say, I don't know exactly what's the number, but out of 100 percent that come here for a year, usually something like 50 percent stay for another year and then 25 percent stay for the next seven years, but only about two or three or four percent of each stay for a lifetime. You know, the famous saying is that they came out for the winter and then they stayed for the summers, and all of a sudden 20 years have gone by because they just love the mountains so much and the town. So it is a bit of a transient community that way, because it is a resort, a ski resort, it's also a summer resort. But, yes, when you're born and raised in a town that has always followed its locals, you know, I'm pretty known in this town.

Q: How about after '96, after you won the Indy 500?

B. Lazier: After 1996, everybody in town was great. I mean there we were. You win the Indy 500, your whole town will throw you a parade. And I remember back in, I believe '91 or '92, we blew an engine. I was driving with John Barnes at the time with his race team, but anyway, we blew an engine, and I jumped out of the car, you know, because my bottom had gotten burned. I was sitting in burning oil. And on national TV they caught me doing the whole, you know, the pat down, where you're really hurting and jumping around. And I came home and all the stops signs had boxers with holes burned in the back. The local police department had hung up these boxers with big holes burned in them. And everybody thought that was pretty funny, so. I think the town really follows racing, the Indy Racing League, and cheers us on. And it's really neat. There's some local establishments that, every time that there's a race, a lot of locals go and gather to watch the race and see how we do.

Q: If you could talk a little bit about any concern on the drivers part about speeds at Richmond. I mean, if you're talking about getting around in 16 or 17 seconds, with the g's and as close as the cars tend to race, or can race on a track like that? Is there a concern about being to fast, when you might lose some consciousness or something like that had a Texas a while back in another series?

B. Lazier: Well, the only thing that I can go off of is last year and the year before, our on-track experience. I know you can go through and simulate and come up with what is the simulated g's and how much the body can take. But I really don't think that the banking on that racetrack will ever constitute that. I mean, you'd have to have a major breakthrough in the speed increase of -- I don't know what it would be. But you would have to be quite a bit faster. I mean, if anything, the concern I think from a competitors' standpoint is 20-plus cars running as close together as we're going to be running in the race. To drive that racetrack, alone in an Indy-style car, isn't really that hard to do. You're busy all the time, catching the rear end and as I was saying earlier, you could really force the car to cut into the corner and then you can toss the car off the corner. It's probably one of the more fun places to really hustle a race car around. The difficulty becomes when you have to be patient because there are 24 cars and you have cars on the inside, outside, you're going that speed in such a tight area. It's the traffic on race day that is probably the only thing that concerns me as a competitor.

Q: Where do you see speeds getting for this race, based on what you've heard or things that's been maybe based on last year?

B. Lazier: Unfortunately, they did hold an Open Test there, but Hemelgarn Racing and myself were unable to participate in that. But, I envision them being about the pace that we've been before. I mean, obviously, this year the cars have a lower center of gravity, the engines are dramatically better, dramatically better, with the things that are available to us this year, the 'shift without lift' going down and up. We are going to go a good step faster. But I really don't see in terms of g-forces on the body, I don't foresee that being a problem. You don't have a whole lot of response time, you know, if the car slips out of the groove when you're hustling this hard through the corner, a corner this tight does not allow much of a recovery time. So lets say you make a mistake on entry and your car projectile is slightly off-groove. You're probably going to touch the fence. There's not much room for margin when you're running this tight of a racetrack. But that's the fun of it.

Q: Speaking of grooves, how many grooves are there exactly? Is there basically just one, or can you create another?

B. Lazier: I think at speed, there's truly just one. But you can, as the race goes on, there is an outer groove that continues to get better and better. At Turns 1 and 2, in the middle of the corner, there's really only one place to be. Exit of the corner, there's really only one place to be. But when you're in a Turn 1, there's a good true groove, but you're going to have to sort each other. By the time you get to the middle of the corner, one guy or the other guy is going to have the favored line, and it tends to be the guy in the inside. Now, Turns 3 and 4, there is a clear two-line and two-groove racetrack, and I think that's probably where you'll see guys, you know, what happens is the way you get to Turns 3 and 4 is all about how much of a chance you have to pass in Turns 1 and 2, because the racetrack is very wide coming out of Turn 4. So, I see Turns 3 and 4 really as the setup corners for any passing that you're going to do entering Turn 1. And just like any track this size, you've got to set up a path. If a car, even if a car is slower than you are, you may have to be wait five, six, maybe even 10 laps to set that guy up. You've got to really pay attention to what and where his weaknesses are, watch how his car is starting to go off. As the tires go off, where is he slipping a little bit? And then be patient and plan your attack move. I mean, it is a difficult racetrack to pass a car that's just a little slower than you are. A car has to be dramatically off the pace for that car to be an easy pass. So, it's interesting. I mean, it's kind of short-track racing at its best.

Q: This is kind of an elaboration of the question that you were just talking about. I'm having a hard time grasping one lap in 16 seconds. And I'm wondering if you could just sort of flush that out and explain, you know, how busy you are mentally. How much of that is intuitive or how much is calculated. How many decisions do you make? What is that like?

B. Lazier: Well, hopefully you're not making too many decisions. I mean, hopefully, it's automatic. As a race driver, you're constantly taking in information and responding really automatically. Especially on a track this short, there really isn't time to sit back and weigh the consequences of a certain maneuver. 'Well, if I do this, then something like this is going to happen.' It really has to happen automatically to a large extent. But to give you an idea, we're coming out of Turns 3 and 4, and the straightaway, what is the longest straightaway, tends to be very short. As I come off the corner, I'm usually chasing the rear end of the car up the racetrack. And then the second that the car, before the car has even settled down, I'm down pulling gears. And about as fast as I can pull the gears, I'm pulling the gears. So you have a very short ratio stack, because the track is so short. So, boom, boom, boom, up to fourth gear, down into Turn 1 flat, maybe drop down one gear, and then you're back hard on the throttle in the middle of the corner. Usually, there's a quick catch of the rear end in the middle of the corner because of the way the racetrack falls away. And then again, you're pulling gears, one, two gears. You're always, on such a short track, really looking ahead because things are happening so fast, and there are such tight radiuses. And then you're back into the corner in Turns 3 and 4, and doing it all over again. I mean, it's just like the big tracks, only things are happening so much quicker. And there are a lot of us that have experience in road racing, and this is almost like putting two really tight road course corners together. But it's also most like those of us who have experience in the short tracks, and on a Saturday night race as we're coming up, as we were coming up in our career, and it really has that flavor to it. Only we're going so much quicker. I mean, what we're able to do -- what we're able to make these racecars do through this tight of a corner to make a car travel through that co rner, that tight, at the speed that we're going, is really, really fun to watch. And I think the fans respond. I mean, it's a fascinating thing to see.

-irl-

Part III

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Lazier , John Barnes