Brown delivers bus for MIS makeover

Published 12:35 pm Thursday, March 8, 2012

Michigan International Speedway “Extreme Bus Makeover” winner Bill Brown of Cassopolis with his girlfriend, Becky Maier of Village Floral, whose computer figured in the winning bid, and nephew Matt Briney.

While driving trucks, William “Bill” Brown of Cassopolis has a certain yellow bus and an April reunion in the back of his mind.
That’s the 1999 International diesel yellow school bus he turned over to Michigan International Speedway after winning the MIS Cares Extreme Bus Makeover online auction with a “bidding war” that topped out at $1,600.
“We aren’t losing this now,” vowed Brown, who is also looking ahead to June at MIS with 15 friends arrayed across his 8-by-36-foot deck to watch the racing he has followed for 15 years, since his sister and brother-in-law got him interested.
His winning bid elicited drama. Days before the auction closed, Brown’s home computer crashed, so he turned to his girlfriend, Becky Maier, who owns Village Floral in downtown Cassopolis, and submitted the winning bid from the flower shop.
Brown, who drives for Brenner Oil, said this is actually the second school bus he’s owned. The first one “rusted out” and caught fire, so he was looking to upgrade when this 1999 International diesel coach was spotted south of Niles.
He said it was owned by a South Bend school bus driver who had prepped it for the coming school year, but was prevented from continuing by health issues.
Brown removed seats inside, added the “viewing deck,” bunk beds, toilet and refrigerator.
“The only thing it needs is a paint job,” he said, “and a bus isn’t the easiest thing to paint,” which is why he became so determined to win the makeover.
Friday he dropped off his yellow school bus for the MIS crew to begin the extreme makeover reminiscent of the MTV show “Pimp My Ride.”
The bus’s exterior will be professionally designed, painted and decaled by the speedway maintenance staff.
“This is a fun project for us to do in the winter,” assistant superintendent of Venue Experience Tim Lamb said. “It gives us something different to do. Plus it is fun to do for the fans. To get a bus like this in, repaint it and give it back to you right before the race. It is enjoyable for all of us.”
Brown envied the handiwork of the MIS maintenance department whenever he saw buses done for Maurice “Moe” Clark (2009) and Tom “Woolfy” Wolfram and Mike Smith (2010) enter the infield as winners of the first two makeovers.
Brown’s winning bid of $1,600 benefits the speedway’s non-profit arm, MIS Cares.
MIS Cares has donated more than $100,000 over the past two years to various charity and non-profit organizations.
“It was for a good cause and kind of exciting,” Brown said.