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Vail hotelier and Indy racing patriarch Bob Lazier dies after battling COVID-19

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April 18, 2020, 6:26 pm

COVID-19 claimed an iconic Vail hotelier and the 1981 Indianapolis 500 and CART Rookie of the Year winner in Bob Lazier on Saturday after his long battle with the disease in a Denver hospital.

Bob Lazier (This Day in Motorsports History photo).

Lazier, the owner of Vail’s Tivoli Lodge, was 81.

According to friends, Lazier had been hospitalized with the disease for more than two weeks, much of that time on a ventilator, and suffered a recent relapse.

Lazier, a major Vail property owner and hotelier, is the father of 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier and Indy driver Jaques Lazier.

Bob Lazier’s death is the fifth of an Eagle River Valley resident of Eagle County – an early hotspot for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus – and the seventh overall of an Eagle County resident. Eagle County on Saturday was reporting 502 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

A Vail pioneer, Bob Lazier first came to town in the early 1960s and borrowed European designs for his first hotel, which he named after the Italian town of Tivoli, according to a 2007 story on RealVail.com.

In that story, Lazier drew parallels between the early days of Vail and the New Dawn redevelopment going on 13 years ago when he and his family beautifully redeveloped the Tivoli Lodge as part of Vail’s multi-billion-dollar reinvention.

“The concept in this town is that we are guardians of this mountain,” Bob Lazier said at the time. “This mountain is like a national park, it’s owned by the Forest Service and by the people of the United States. We love this town, but it’s more than a love. It’s a passion.”

Buddy Lazier compared the Tivoli and Vail’s rebirth in 2007 to racing.

“If you’re going to have the number one mountain,” Buddy Lazier 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.”

A Minneapolis native who came to Vail as a young man, Bob Lazier had deep roots in auto racing.

“What sad news,” racing team owner and long-time friend Chip Ganassi told the Detroit Free Press. “I (went) skiing with Bob a few months ago at his place and we were up every morning at breakfast talking about everything and having a good time. He was such a great guy. Always upbeat.”

Bob Lazier is survived by his wife Diane, sons Buddy and Jaques, daughter Wendy, daughter-in-law Kara and several grandchildren.

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