Prevost sponsors Celebrity Bus Driver Academy
Country music artist Chip Huffman knew from experience what a good job the driver of his tour bus had—and also what specialized expectations there were for people in the specialized niche of driving entertainers.
In 2010, he and business partner, the late Tandy Rice, founded the Celebrity Bus Driver Academy. In conjunction with Prevost, it offers the specialized training needed to help drives secure these elite, sought-after positions.
Enrollment is now open for now for the 2019 academy, held this year May 14-16 at Prevost’s Nashville Service Center in Goodlettsville, Tennessee.
This intense three-day program brings the bus and entertainment industries together, with veteran entertainment drivers and tour managers to address the necessary skills, personal makeup and performance expectations for this unique coach driving niche. Due to its popularity, Huffman advises enrolling in this program as soon as possible.
Prevost sponsors technical side
Since its inception in 2010, Prevost has sponsored and facilitated the program. The company provides classroom space, access to its newest demo Prevost Shells, and a cadre of Prevost maintenance technicians who train prospective drivers in the Prevost and Entertainer coach systems and technology.
“Prevost is fully onboard with the Academy in saying the entertainment industry is forever in search of top-quality, capable drivers,” says Huffman. “Driving an entertainer coach for celebrity clients is the pinnacle of the profession for only the best of the best. We offer this program because so few people in the bus and coach industry realize how specialized celebrity driving becomes or understands precisely what the job entails.”
Celebrity driving is not for everyone
Driving celebrities and entertainers requires a person with superb driving and people skills and dedication to personal service. Huffman says about half the drivers who attend the Academy decide its difficulty is not for them. The other half are those who remain true to themselves, dress casually but clean and crisp and who can be the person clients trust explicitly. An entertainer driver must also be capable of making minor repairs, understand maintenance protocol and keep the bus spotless, inside and out, throughout the tour.
“If an A-list celebrity is sitting in a booth with a hot cup of coffee, no driver wants to take a turn too sharp and send everyone flying,” Huffman says. “That driver is typically out of a job before knowing for sure what just happened.”
Huffman walked the walk
Huffman moved to Nashville in 1980 with aspirations of becoming a country musician. Originally signing with Donna Fargo to sing backup, Huffman ultimately became the group’s bus driver—simply because he knew how. Disenchanted with the artistic side, Huffman and another driver launched their own company, Nitetrain Coach, in 1986 to provide buses to the entertainment industry.
As their business boomed and included country legends Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw, the leasable, all-Prevost fleet grew steadily to 50 entertainer coaches and made Nitetrain one of the largest purchasers of Prevost coaches in the entertainment industry.
After receiving as many as 30 calls a month from coach and truck drivers asking how to get into the business and not having an easy answer for how they could acquire the necessary three years’ experience, Huffman decided he should train drivers how to successfully transition into entertainment transportation. It was then that Huffman sold Nitetrain and partnered with Rice to form their Celebrity Bus Driver Academy.