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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.
By Stephanie Kuzydym Published: October 11, 2012
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photo - Bus driver Arvel Lyons, 75, gets ready for a trip on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Oklahoma City, Okla.  He is the lead bus driver for the University of Oklahoma (OU) football team and will be driving them to Dallas this week for the Red River rivalry.  Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
Bus driver Arvel Lyons, 75, gets ready for a trip on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Oklahoma City, Okla. He is the lead bus driver for the University of Oklahoma (OU) football team and will be driving them to Dallas this week for the Red River rivalry. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

Throughout the years, Lyons met Sooners such as running back Adrian Peterson. That's his other favorite story to tell about driving the Sooners: During the entire trip back to Norman from Dallas, Peterson, now a Minnesota Vikings star, sat in the jump seat and talked with Lyons.

That's what he loves about driving — the interaction with people, especially the football players. It's the youth minister in him. He enjoys drives after a victory. The team is always really loud and having a good time. That's the way Lyons prefers it.

He said after a loss, it's like driving home alone.

“It's that quiet,” he said.

Regardless of the record or who played best on the field, Oklahoma's chauffeur switches between driving the offensive and defensive units, but both sides of the ball lay claim to Lyons.

He's known as one of Red Carpet's best drivers.

“He's one of our safest drivers that we have,” said Rick Whipple, the driver for Oklahoma's band and Red Carpet's safety manager.

In Lyons's 13 years with Red Carpet, he's never returned the bus with a dent, Whipple said. “He's got a lot of miles under his seat.”

Lyons, who drives a blue '94 Chevy pickup truck with a “#1 OU fan” plate, is the lead driver for other Oklahoma sports teams, too. Women's basketball and rowing have Lyons behind the wheel.

This weekend, Lyons will lead a team of seven luxury buses surrounded by four Oklahoma Highway Patrol cars through southern Oklahoma until the buses reach Gainesville, Texas. From there, the Texas Highway Patrol will lead the caravan to the Texas fairgrounds.

“I still get the same excitement as I did the first time when we get that escort,” Lyons said.


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