Oklahoma football: Red River Rivalry trip still exciting for longtime bus driver Arvel Lyons
Arvel Lyons has driven the Sooners for years, but he said entering the Texas State Fair is still exciting for him.
NORMAN — Arvel Lyons sat behind the steering wheel and told stories of his bus trips.
Lyons, Oklahoma's personal chauffeur, loves the one about OU coach Bob Stoops leaning out of the bus and tapping on the window of a car full of college girls. Stoops asked if they would mind letting the bus through traffic.
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“The girls just laughed,” Lyons said. “I can only imagine what they were thinking when the Oklahoma football coach knocked on their window.”
At 75 years old, Lyons is a part-time bus driver for Red Carpet, which is based in Oklahoma City. His retirement job is a weekend commitment to drive the Sooner football team to the movies, hotel and stadium during home football games, to the airport for away games and down Interstate 35 to the Cotton Bowl, where Oklahoma will meet Texas for the 107th Red River Rivalry game.
Besides driving down Jenkins Avenue in Norman before the Sooners step on Owen Field for a game, Lyons' favorite drive is the one that takes the Sooners to the Red River Rivalry.
“When we enter into the Texas State Fair, I'm excited,” Lyons said, “because I know what team I'm driving.”
With the exception of attending his grandson's wedding last weekend, Lyons has driven the Sooners to everything they've needed since 1999.
Lyons' first bus assignment in 1959, for his church while he was also working for Texas Instruments in Dallas.
After 24 years of driving in Dallas, he and his wife, Winnie, returned to Oklahoma City, where they first met at a youth group event.
He continued to drive buses and worked for Capitol Hill Baptist Church until March 1999, when he decided to retire.
After two months of retirement, at his wife's recommendation, he started with Red Carpet. His first drive for the Sooners came when one of the regular OU drivers became ill.
A short time later, that driver retired and Lyons became a second driver. He worked his way up to the lead driver of the 45-foot, 57-passenger bus, where he's been for “quite a few years.”