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Bob Lazier, Indy 500 Starter and 1981 Rookie of the Year, dies at 81

Bob Lazier, center, with sons Jaques and Buddy at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2014.Lazier Family

(CNN) — Bob Lazier, Indianapolis 500 starter and 1981 CART’s Rookie of the Year, died Saturday due to complications from the coronavirus, his family said.

The Minneapolis native was 81.

“As in life, he fought the good fight with everything he had,” Lazier’s son Jaques told CNN in a statement. “He will be missed.”

Bob Lazier earned Rookie of the Year honors after finishing ninth in the CART standings in 1981.

That same season, he would make his only Indianapolis 500 start, starting 13th and finishing 19th. He was forced from the race because of engine failure after completing 154 laps.

The next year, Lazier chose not to attempt to qualify for the Indy 500 after his family expressed concerns following driver Gordon Smiley’s fatal crash during the opening day of qualifying, according to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

‘Go fast and win’

Lazier, who began racing in the early 1970s, is the father of two IndyCar drivers: 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2000 IndyCar champion Buddy, and Indy 500 and IndyCar veteran Jacques, who picked up an IndyCar win in 2001 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Bob Lazier won a class title in the 1972 SCCA National Championship Runoffs in a Formula Vee. He also raced in Formula 5000 and the USAC Mini-Indy Series before moving to Indy cars in 1981.

Lazier would stay involved in racing as a team owner and by driving vintage race cars. In 2013, he and son Buddy formed Lazier Partners Racing, with Buddy making four Indianapolis 500 starts between 2013 and 2017.

The family confirmed Lazier’s death in a statement describing him as its “hero and pioneer.”

“We are all so blessed to have been able to call him husband, father, grandfather and friend,” the statement continued. “He will always be loved, and never forgotten. Go fast and win, Dad!”

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