In the usually youth-obsessed world of motorsport, Buddy Lazier is providing some inspiration for more mature racers.
At the age of 48, he’ll be the oldest driver to take place in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. And the most experienced driver in IndyCar will be competing on the 20th anniversary of his 1996 Indy 500 victory. In 18 appearances, he’s also managed two second-place results, and a further two in the top five.
Lazier is currently driving for his own Lazier/Burns team, one of just two driver/owner outfits, and also the smallest. But that shouldn’t rule him out, with career totals of 8 wins, 101 starts, 26 top-five finishes and 45 top-ten finishes, plus the 2000 Indy Car Championship.
Those not familiar with U.S racing might not realise that older drivers are not uncommon. Indy 500 racers have included A.J Foyt who was 57 when he raced in 1992, Gordon Johncock at age 54 in 1992, Mario Andretti who was also 54 when he competed in 1994, and Al Unser Sr who was 53 when racing in 1993. Unser Sr actually won the 1987 running of the Indy 500 at the age of 47, and Foyt at age 42 in 1977.
Other Indy 500 winners in their 40’s include Bobby Unser, Emerson Fittipaldi (twice), Gordon Johncock, Aria Luyendyk, Johnny Rutherford and Mauri Rose. That compares with Troy Ruttman, who has been the youngest Indy 500 winner since taking victory in 1952 at the age of 22 years, 2 months and 91 days.
The 100th Indianapolis 500 race will be held on May 29th, 2016.