Jerry Walters, a 49-year-old from Fallon who has driven RTC buses for five years and has worked in transit for 25 years, took the title from Rex Schrock, who won first place at the rodeo from 2007 to 2011. As the champion, Walters will go on to compete in the 2012 International Bus Roadeo, May 4 through 8 in Long Beach, Calif.
“Right now I’m still in shock, so I don’t know what my next feeling is going to be,” Walters said about winning a place in the competition next month.
Walters said he has competed in, coached for and set up bus roadeos before, but he will spend the next few weeks practicing with Schrock to get ready for the event in California, which will include similar driving obstacles but adds other competitions, such as maintenance and repair.
“I held it for a long time and Jerry’s a good friend of mine,” Schrock said of relinquishing his title.
A total of 42 RTC drivers competed in Sunday’s 29th annual event, held on a Victorian Square parking lot. They had seven minutes to make their way through 11 events — a variety of turns, obstacles and parallel parking, reversing and stopping challenges. Walters said it was one of the toughest courses he has run.
“I was out there making mistakes I normally don’t make, and each time I was saying, ‘That one took me out of second place, that one took me out of third place,’ ” Walters said of his surprise at his win. “Now I’m here in first place.”
Mark Little, safety and training manager for MV Transportation, the contractor that provides drivers for RTC buses, said he is meeting this week with representatives of the American Public Transportation Association about hosting a future International Bus Roadeo. The parking lot in Sparks is large enough and there are plenty of hotel rooms and convention space, Little said, pointing at John Ascuaga’s Nugget. The event has between 10,000 and 15,000 participants, Little estimated.
“We could be on the map as early as 2016,” Little said about hosting the international event.