Bob Lazier - Vail hotelier, Indy racing patriarch
Bob Lazier, one of Vail’s pioneering hoteliers and the patriarch of a successful auto racing family, died from complications from COVID-19 on April 18 in Denver. He was 81.
While working in a ski shop in his native Minnesota, Bob saw a brochure about a new European-themed resort opening in Colorado. He convinced his wife Diane to pack the car and they arrived in Vail a few weeks after opening day in 1962. They saw the resort’s potential and decided to stay. Bob built the Wedel Inn the next year, and became one of the first major contractors in the valley, building 16 commercial properties in 17 years.
He went on to design and build one of Vail’s first European-style lodges in 1968, the original Tivoli Lodge, which became a premier Vail destination and a cornerstone of the valley’s lodging community. The Tivoli’s remodel in 2007 ushered in a new era of luxurious lodges.
Though he found the beauty of Vail’s mountains impossible to resist, Bob’s life’s passion was auto racing. He began racing in the early 1970s, and was named CART Rookie of the Year in 1981. Perhaps his most enduring legacy is being the patriarch of the famed Lazier racing family. He is the father of 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier and Indy driver Jaques Lazier. (Jaques is correct) Bob would stay involved in racing as a team owner and by racing vintage cars. In 2013, he and son Buddy formed Lazier Partners Racing.
In a story in RealVail.com, Bob compared Vail’s development as an international destination and the reimagining of the Tivoli in 2007 to car racing. “If you’re going to have the number one mountain,” he said, “you’re going to want to have the number one town to go with it. It’s like an Indy car: You’ve got to have balance or you’re into the wall.”