LAKEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Bob Lazier, the 1981 CART rookie of the year and father of 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier, died Saturday from COVID-19. He was 81.

Lazier's wife, Diane, confirmed the death in an interview with the Vail (Colorado) Daily, telling the newspaper her husband had spent 22 days in a hospital in Lakewood, Colorado, fighting the illness. They had been married for 58 years.

Lazier spent only full-time season on the CART circuit. He finished ninth in the standings that season, was the series top rookie and qualified 13th in his only Indianapolis 500 start. An engine failure forced Lazier to drop out of the race after 154 laps, dropping him to 19th.

He returned to Indy in 1982 but didn't even attempt to qualify because of his family's safety concerns following the death of Gordon Smiley in a crash during practice. Instead, Lazier focused on his successful career as a building contractor in Vail.

He continued to visit tracks as his two sons, Buddy and Jaques, climbed through the racing ranks. Buddy Lazier won the first 500 held after the Indy Racing League split from CART, and he remained a full-time driver in the series for seven seasons. Even as a part-timer, though, he continued competing in the 500 through 2017 and won eight IndyCar races in 104 career starts.

Jaques Lazier made seven starts in the 500 with his best finish, 13th, coming as a rookie in 2000. He won once, in 2001 at Chicago.

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