INDIANAPOLIS – At 48 years old, Buddy Lazier isn’t just the oldest driver set to compete in this year’s 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
He’s the link to several generations past, and link to the future for both himself and his family-operated team’s future goals.
And he still loves the hell out of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
When Lazier first attempted to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1989 (a mere month before I was born, and yes, I’m dating myself here), more than a third of this year’s field (12 drivers: Josef Newgarden, Carlos Munoz, Alexander Rossi, Gabby Chaves, Max Chilton, Sage Karam, Conor Daly, Matthew Brabham, Bryan Clauson, Spencer Pigot, Stefan Wilson and Jack Hawksworth) weren’t even born yet. Karam, pictured above, is in his third straight ‘500 at age 21, and the youngest driver in the field as he and Lazier ran side by side.
The first year he made the field in 1991, 25 years ago, the field included 10 present or eventual Indianapolis 500 winners: Rick Mears (who won his fourth that year), Arie Luyendyk, Al Unser Jr., Gordon Johncock, Mario Andretti, Danny Sullivan, Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal, A.J. Foyt and Eddie Cheever Jr. It even had Brabham’s dad Geoff, too. Michael Andretti, of course, famously finished second that year; Lazier was first out after a second lap accident and ended 33rd.