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BUS-ted: MIS Guests Get Camper Makeover

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Wednesday, July 29 2009

Brooklyn, Mich. – For Maurice “Moe” Clark, beauty is only skin deep. Good thing because the 1983 former school bus he camps in is ugly to the bone.

Affectionately called “The Bucksnort Lodge,” the yellow and black eyesore serves its purpose during its biannual treks to Michigan International Speedway’s infield. The bus leaks oil and smokes a little on the road, but it sleeps six and has all the comforts of home.

The "Bucksnort Lodge" before. (MIS photo)

The "Bucksnort Lodge" before. (MIS photo)

Clark and his wife have been attending races in MIS’ infield for the past six years. Every year, twice a year, they make the 320-mile round-trip journey to MIS from Yale, in the “thumb” of Michigan.

What once used to deliver children to school, is now a home away from home of sorts for the couple and some of their friends. They camp in it, hunt in it, attend NASCAR races in it, and fix it up when money allows.

“We try to add a little to it each year,” Clark said. “We have an air conditioner, a stove and a bathroom in back. It’s even got cable television. We added tires last year.

“Yeah, it’s ugly. But we forget about how ugly it is because we have a really good time in it when we come to MIS.”

The couple meets up with the 40 or so friends they’ve made over the years across 10 campsites in the infield’s Turn 2. Each year, it seems the weekends get better and the friendships stronger.

“Coming to MIS is our vacation,” he said. “We love it — we wouldn’t miss it. It’s our time away from it all.”

The Clarks bought the bus from friends eight years ago for $1,000 and figure they’ve gotten their money’s worth by now. But while waiting to enter the infield in June, track President Roger Curtis made the Clarks an offer they couldn’t refuse.

The artist rendering of the "after" for the bus. (MIS photo)

The artist rendering of the "after" for the bus. (MIS photo)

“One of my favorite events of the weekend is camper lineup,” Curtis said. “I try to meet as many fans as I can there, and this particular bus caught my eye. I couldn’t believe how amazing the inside of the bus – it was like a condo! They had done so much work. But the outside … Well, that was a different story. It was a sad sight; I knew we had to help.”

So Curtis offered to give the unsightly bus a much-needed makeover. He saw the opportunity as a fun way for the staff to create a lasting memory for a loyal fan.

“You hear about stuff like this all the time, but most people never come through,” he said. “I was really surprised when Roger followed up; I thought he was kidding. But then I realized it was MIS. And the track has always done special things for the fans.”

The track’s Maintenance Department has jumped in to help. The speedway’s graphic designer sees transforming the bus as a unique opportunity and fun challenge. Dustin Gilbert, who works in the Sign Shop at the speedway, usually designs victory lane backdrops, billboards and signage for the 1,400-acre racetrack. This will be his first race bus.

When designing the paint scheme, Gilbert wanted the final creation to represent the speedway’s brand of NASCAR in a national park, while capturing the family’s own brand and their love of racing.

The bus will be sanded, primed and painted in the coming days. Then decals will be added.

“It’s definitely going to be a challenge. There are a lot of textures on the surface of the bus; lots of rivets,” Gilbert said with a chuckle.

The family wanted to incorporate their favorite drivers into the design, so Gilbert and the rest of the sign shop crew printed decals of familiar race numbers for Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart — a reminder to all who pass that NASCAR fans are on board.

Gilbert says the bus will be finished in time for the “Show Me the CARFAX Race Weekend” at MIS Aug. 14-16. Speedway staff plan to unveil it during camper lineup, the race-week spectacle when thousands of RVs, tents and pop-ups — 2,710 to be exact — claim their stake in the infield. Camper lineup is Thursday, Aug. 13. Load-in starts at 5 p.m.

And this time, the Clarks will proudly drive “The Bucksnort Lodge” with their heads held high.

“We may have to think of a better name for it after this,” Clark said. “Bucksnort Lodge may not fit anymore.”

- Michigan International Speedway

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Wednesday, July 29 2009
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