On a typical weekend, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Bus Operator Maurice “Danny” Cheatham can be found wearing his uniform and name tag.
However, this particular uniform consists of face paint, funny shoes and a big, red nose. His name tag will read: Moochie the Clown.
Cheatham is a longtime member and leader of the Shriner Clown Troupe in Tampa, Florida. Driving motorized mini-cars and sporting colorful wigs, the troupe entertains young patients in the burn unit at Shriners Hospital for Children.
This weekend, Cheatham won’t be clowning around. Instead, he will be representing PSTA in the 2015 Annual Florida Triple Crown Bus Roadeo in St. Petersburg, Florida. The competition is a grueling test of skill, safety and proficiency for bus operators and mechanics.
Drivers will give it their all as they navigate and maneuver through a mine-field of cones and tennis balls, and only the best will make it through the barrel gauntlet without fault.
Zero to 20 is the easy part. The final leg of the competition requires a near perfect performance of stopping an accelerating bus at a moment’s notice and avoiding plowing down one last cone.
Drivers representing various transit agencies across Florida are competing for state title, and the chance to compete this May in the International Bus Roadeo in Fort Worth, Texas.
“This would be my first hometown big win,” Cheatham said, describing his 2014 qualifying win in Daytona Beach, Florida. “It would mean a lot for my troupe and the kids.”
Cheatham is not the only reoccurring competitor at this year’s competition. Ramon Farfan, Jacksonville Transportation Agency, has been their local undefeated-champion since 2007 and will be seeking his third state title.
Stay posted for all the latest on this year’s battle of the buses.