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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.

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

  1. Paul Reply

    April 18, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    I am very sorry to hear about this great Vail pioneer. Bob and family are class act people. What he did for the Town Of Vail was amazing!! I hope the Lazier’s will recover from this tragedy. My deepest sympathies go out to you all. RIP !

    • Janneane Martinez Reply

      April 19, 2020 at 7:28 am

      God bless the lazier family I worked at the Tivoli for a very short time and they are a very wonderful family rest in peace

  2. Ted Martin Reply

    April 18, 2020 at 9:07 pm

    Another of us one gone to this terrible disease. I was fortunate to have worked for Bob as one of my first jobs here in Vail in 1972. Memories that will be with me forever. My heart goes out to Wendy and the kids for their loss. Vail has lost another Pioneer and we all have lost a longtime friend. Rest In Peace and thank you for everything you have done for this community we all will miss you dearly….

  3. Bradley W. Rosenberger Reply

    April 18, 2020 at 10:35 pm

    Bob is a testament to the American Dream that hard work, common sense and good foresight can lead to success. With his wife and partner Dianne, they were able to build many successful businesses and help shape the ski resort town of Vail into what it is today. He was a very generous man who was willing to help out others. His competitive nature led to his success in racing which eventually led him to the Grand Daddy of American Racing, the Indy 500. May his contributions to the development of Vail be remembered, but more importantly, his friendly nature and wonderful smile!

  4. Mike B Reply

    April 19, 2020 at 7:26 am

    I spent summers in Vail in the late 70’s and 80’s as a kid. I didn’t know Bob but knew Buddy, Jacque loosely from some of the local kids my brothers and I befriended during that “Golden Age” when daily we’d make our way from the Gold Peak tennis courts past the Tivoli and into town. That town raised me, formed who I am today and I will never forget all the people who “built” Vail. I can’t forget it because regardless of the memories….the people & Town are a part of me today. As the late Bill Wright (who ran summer tennis in Vail for many years) told me before his passing: “Michael, that was a special time & place. You can’t describe it you just had to be there.”
    Grateful to all those early Vail folks….the Lazier’s front and center for this post.

    • Kevin Finney Reply

      April 20, 2020 at 2:16 am

      WOW…What sad news. I haven’t seen Bob in years but he and Arnie are two of my favorite and best teachers. Bob owned the race cars and Arnie was the Crew Chief. Bob was always an excellent big picture racing coach for Buddy and Jocky during their SCCA FV days. It rubbed off on me. Priceless. Bob was a friend, inspiration and guide to anyone who was listening. You don’t get a chance to meet and work for or with exceptional people like Bob often or maybe ever. I am so grateful we crossed paths.

  5. Ed Perlmutter Reply

    April 19, 2020 at 7:50 am

    Bob Lazier lived life to the fullest. He was a risk taker like no other in skiing, racing and business. Stories of how fast he would drive from Vail to Denver are legend. He loved his family, his friends and his community. He and his family have been life long friends to me and my family. His beloved Tivoli exudes the same hospitality that he exhibited everyday to his many guests. I know he will be missed walking around the Tivoli and the town with his trusty lab, Speedy, by his side talking to everyone and anyone. Bob made a big impression on all who met him. What fond memories I have of this wonderful, energetic man. Ed Perlmutter

  6. Darrell Gregory Reply

    April 19, 2020 at 8:28 am

    RIP He was one of the pioneers of Vail. Darrell Gregory.

  7. Pat Parrish Reply

    April 19, 2020 at 9:26 am

    My first job in Vail in 1981 was behind the desk of the Tivoli Lodge. Bob and Diane were gracious employers and ran a wonderful heartwarming lodge that had many many returning guests. It was a pleasure to work for them. I always felt like part of the family. I had only planned to spend a year in Vail, but of course, like all of us, I became so enchanted with this little Village and the magnificent ski mountain next to it, that I stayed 7 years. And then came back to retire 5 years ago. Bob was the most upbeat person I think I’ve ever known. Always in jeans and a pullover sweater and a Pepsi in his hand. And walking with a dog. I liked Indy the best. He contributed a huge amount to Vail over the years and I can’t believe he is gone. My heart goes out to Diane and Buddy and Jacques and Wendy.
    Pat Parrish

  8. Bruce Gilie Reply

    April 19, 2020 at 10:08 am

    Worked for Bob and the family in the early 80s running the Tivoli. Up and down the stairs all day. Always headed somewhere. Blue button down shirt. Six pack of Pepsi. In the truck and off to Denver or Glenwood or to the airport. Forever generous. Sunken pirate ship off Cape Cod. Trips to the Caribbean. Racing buddies. Kids first. He was one of the originals of Vail. He will be missed.

  9. Debbie Irwin Reply

    April 19, 2020 at 10:14 am

    I met Bob in the 80’s at Transamerica Title Insurance. I was an Escrow Agent at the time and did some of his Real Estate closings. He was always so positive and happy. Bob continued to be such a nice man. He will be missed. Prayers and love go to his family.
    Debbie Irwin

  10. Ken/Judy Bogdanoff Reply

    April 19, 2020 at 10:16 am

    My wife Judy and I stayed at the Tivoli every December for the past 15 years. Bob and I became extremely close friends, in spite of the fact that we disagreed on almost everything. We had breakfast together almost everyday,
    Bob loved life, loved Vail, was completely focused on his family, and always attempted to do the right thing.
    We are deeply saddened, and will truly miss our dear friend Bob Lazier

  11. Igor Kuznetsoff Reply

    April 19, 2020 at 11:16 am

    Bob was a wonderful guy to go racing with! I worked on his little Super-Vee racing team with him and Pete Feistman as a “volunteer” and got to see quite a few race tracks and many interesting things. Bob was always a congenial and pleasant sort, the sort of boss anyone could wish to work for. “Ilovit” – Tivoli backwards – was always Bob’s motto. I’ll certainly never forget a very, very fast ride around the town with (at the time)little Buddy sitting on the center console of the yellow Pantera Bob was keeping to gift to him when he got old enough to use it. Especially the acceleration up the West Vail on-ramp to 70 with Buddy bouncing up and down and squeaking “faster daddy, faster!” in his little boy’s voice as we went wa-a-a-ay past 100 miles per hour by the time we were entering the highway…good times in Vail, back then, I remember fondly. Buddy was always destined to get to Indy, even if lovely Diane was always nervous about his jumping over things on his miniature motorcycle. Jacques and Wendy I never met, they were too young at the time. Rest In Peace, hot shoe!

  12. Allan Tufankjian Reply

    April 19, 2020 at 11:43 am

    Allan Tufankjian and family:
    Diane, Kara, Wendy, Buddy and Jocky, We and the rest of the world lost one of the greatest guys to ever live. From an orphanage, hopping freight cars to driving into Vail in a junk car landing a job washing dishes, to one of the largest personal land owner in Vail, Colorado…to a successful champion race car driver (I had breakfast with Bob and Paul Newman the morning of a 24 hour celebrity Le Mans race that Buddy was in at Daytona. I am thinking wow “Paul Newman” but Paul Newman Is thinking, WOW, Bob Lazier, he was so so happy and impressed to be with Bob who won that race two years in a row a few years back.. and “Bob Lazier“ was thinking WOW breakfast and a diet Pepsi Pepsi.The same day, we were with another friend of Bob’s and Buddy’s, who I learned was Dale Earnhardt two weeks before he was killed…All of the many people we met there and everywhere else when I was with Bob were so impressed and so happy and felt so privileged to be with him). He was jet pilot who flew a multi million dollar jet with a $100 store bought GPS at times. He HAD THE GUTS and love for Vail to ripped down a hotel and built an over 30 million dollar Hotel on Vail, Mountain during a serious recession, he operated gold mines, he dedicated a portion of his busy life to his friend Barry Clifford’s project and so much more!!! He built a school for dyslexic kids. He was approachable and treated everyone extremely well on an equal footing from the president of Walt Disney to just a “Whitman” guy like me!!! Three things were important to Bob…LOYALTY, LOYALTY, and LOYALTY. He exuded the perfect quality of friendship and loyalty!!! He was and still is the best of everything good and more!!! Bob, it is a privilege to know you and feel your friendship. WE MISS YOU BOB, WE MISS YOU SO SO MUCH AND ALWAYS WILL!!! Sincerely, Allan Tufankjian

  13. Stan Abrams Reply

    April 19, 2020 at 11:45 am

    Bob was a great guy who I met in the early 80’s, we joint ventured in an airplane, one of Bob’s great pastimes and enjoyment. Dianne and the kids were always welcoming and a great family. Bob was devoted to his family and his close friends. In those days I never saw Bob without a Pepsi in his hand and he always had a case in the back of his pickup. I always thought of Bob around Christmas as our birthdays were a day apart. He was always full of energy and we nicknamed him “ricochet Bob” because he always seemed to bounce of walls with the great energy. My family will always remember the Lazier clan and we wish them the best and our condolences for such a great loss. So sorry to hear of this tragedy for such a great guy. Will miss him a lot

  14. fritz dietrich Reply

    April 19, 2020 at 11:48 am

    Last time I saw Bob was probably three years ago. Driving his Corvette by the Vail chapel. Speed was sitting on his lap, but was half hanging out the car. Wish I had a photo. It didn’t look safe or comfortable. But that was Bob.

  15. Katherine Martinez Reply

    April 19, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    I worked for Bob at the Tivoli many years ago. It was only part time, but I remember he and his wife were very kind. I also remember he loved walking his dog, Indy. I am so sad to hear this. Prayers to his family.

  16. Nancy McAlpin (Laughlin) Reply

    April 19, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    From grade school to Deepaven Jr. High to Minnetonka Sr. High, I will never forget how you made me laugh.
    Your locker was always right next to mine. God Bless you Bob!

  17. Kent Fonda Reply

    April 20, 2020 at 7:36 am

    So sorry to hear this…. I knew Buddy from his racing days and I’m sure he had many of the same great qualities as his Dad. Buddy was so respectful of everyone he met! That quality is handed down and taught by your parents. I lost my Dad about 14 months ago, so I understand the feelings. My thoughts are with the entire family.

  18. Eddie Wachs Reply

    April 20, 2020 at 11:31 am

    “Easy Money” will miss you man, condolences
    To your beautiful and loving family.
    Eddie Wachs

  19. Janet Lohman Reply

    April 22, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    On behalf of the Colorado 500, Dallenbach family and I, we are very sad to hear of this great loss to the Lazier family and the Vail community. The Tivoli Lodge has always been a favorite destination for the Colorado 500 Charity Invitational Motorcycle Road Ride. The group filled his hotel many times and each time Bob was very welcoming, generous, and the most gracious host. We have so many fond memories of him hosting our private receptions in his Penthouse and the best part was listening to Bob and Wally share stories of their racing days. And witnessing the kindness and passion he had for life and others, seeing the love with his labs Indy and Speedy, and even just watching him feed the foxes out back. He always had a warm smile and would put a smile back on your face. We lost a great man, Bob will never be forgotten.

  20. Brian V. Bedell Reply

    April 23, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Dear Dianne,

    I am so very sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. He was a unique force of nature. I met Bob in high school. He went to Minnetonka and I went to Wayzata. We met at a party and became lifetime friends. I have a few Bob Lazier stories, but here is one. About ten years ago my wife Barbara and I were in France at the medieval city of St. Cirq Lapopie where we ran into a couple of tourists. After a brief conversation I found out the woman was from Colorado and from a town not too far from Vail. I asked her if she knew Bob Lazier. Yes, she replied, I worked for him at an event once. She said it as if “doesn’t everybody know Bob Lazier.” Bob had a positive impact on many lives. Thank you Dianne for your warm hospitality the times when we were your guests.

    Brian Bedell

  21. Philip G. Weida Reply

    April 24, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    Dear Diane and family,

    My wife and I send our deapest condolences to you and your loved ones to your great loss of Bob, a most gracious person that will be missed by many.

    Many great memories have been made during our visits at the Tivoi Lodge with the Colorado 500 Charity Motorcycle Road Ride. It was one of our favorite locations for many reasons; foremost, the anticipated interactions we would thoroughly enjoy with Bob, Speedy, you and the family. Bob was so down to earth and made everyone comfortable. It was like coming over to your home, and being graciously treated.

    So sorry for your (our) loss.

    Love,
    Phil & Martha Weida

  22. Orv Petersen Reply

    April 28, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    Helped Bob keep the lodge out of financial trouble in the early 70s and leased a commercial space from him for a tiny ski rental shop called Aspen Alley in about 1976.

    Love the family and the legacy he left.

    He was about to put up a six story building in front of our little one bedroom place in Vantage Point, but we didn’t care. Just liked being around him and spending time with his dog Speed who we drove back to the Tivoli from time to time. Hate to see you go Bob and can’t believe it happened. And yes, I am crying right now.

  23. Michael J Rieker Reply

    May 6, 2020 at 6:53 am

    My wife Lynn and I went to the Tivoli lodge in July 2018. We met Bob at the breakfast buffet and he was very approachable, kind and personable. I got him to autograph a Indy book and he later arranged a private meeting with his son Buddy. Bob was definitely an upbeat person and his smile and attitude was contagious.

  24. Brigitte Reply

    May 9, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    So sorry for the loss of this man … fond memories go back to 1975 … RIP .. I miss you and hope to catch up with you some day there at the foot of our messiah

  25. Margy Eatwell Reply

    May 14, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    I sadly just learned of Bob Lazier’s passing. My heart goes out to the family, he was a great guy! Not only did he help me in my passion for racing but he and Dianne graciously hosted an Indy Ski Week challenge event that we created during the 90’s. He was always so proud of his son’s racing accomplishments and so full of passion for his love of Vail, the Tivoli Inn, and his racing legacy. He and my father shared some business ventures together in the early 60’s which is how I even came to know the man later. RIP Bob. You are a legend and a hero.Dianne, Buddy, Jacque, Wendy and Kara, my sincerest condolences.

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