Windstar driver wins 2024 UMA International Driver Competition

This year’s 2024 UMA International Driver Competition drew 18 of the top motorcoach drivers from across the country. They completed an extensive written exam, then navigated a challenging course to prove their skills. 

Andy Grecian took the top honor. The Grand Champion, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based driver with Windstar Lines, received a standing ovation when he walked on stage to receive his award. 

Winners - Driver Competition Award
From l to r: First runner-up is Matthew Mielke, first place winner Andy Grecian and second runner up Raymond White II. (Jill Kelly)

First runner-up is Matthew Mielke with Ready Bus Company/Minnesota Coach in Hastings, Minnesota. Mielke began his career as a school bus driver before moving to motorcoaches. He says he enjoys people of all ages and taking them to places they’ve never been before.

Andy Grecian wins 2024 Driver Competition
Andy Grecian holds his award after winning the 2024 UMA International Driver Competition.

Rounding out the top three is Raymond White II, with Holiday Companies in Randleman, North Carolina, the second runner-up. White began driving a school bus in high school before moving to motorcoaches. He fell in love with the job and decided to make it his full-time career. He enjoys traveling the United States and taking people on vacation. 

The drivers who participated are:

  • Jason Ferrell, 3 Guys & A Bus Inc.
  • Stacie Ferrell, 3 Guys & A Bus Inc. 
  • John Russell, Astro Travel and Tours Inc. 
  • Brandy Byers, Burke International Tours – Christian Tours
  • Linda A Gockely, Executive Coach Inc.
  • Broderick Shepherd, Holiday Companies
  • James Myers, Holiday Companies
  • David Lunzer, Minnesota Coaches Inc.
  • Matthew Mielke, Minnesota Coaches Inc.
  • Colleen Laughton, MTRWestern
  • Patrica Vasquez, Stroller Coachways
  • Myra Wheeler, Storer Coachways
  • Antoine Edwards, Adventure Tours
  • Andy Grecian, Windstar Lines,
  • Steve Pierson, Getaway Tours Inc.
  • Andy Kisor, Peterson Bus

The competition was created to honor the drivers who are the backbone of motorcoach operations and keep passengers safe, said Matt Dance, UMA Board Member and Chairman of the Safety Risk Management Committee.

Matthew David Millgate
UMA International Driver Competition first runner-up, Matthew Mielke, holds his award. (Jill Kelly)

“They’re more than just drivers. They’re part of many of our families,” said Dance. ”It’s no secret that drivers navigate through challenging conditions and long hours, all while dealing with and being patient with the public. Their commitment to delivering exceptional service while upholding the highest standards of professionalism is commendable.” 

‘Face of our industry’

Francois Tremblay, President of Prevost, a principal sponsor of the event, echoed those sentiments when he spoke before the announcement of the winners during the UMA Awards Gala on Feb. 6, the last night of the 2024 UMA Motorcoach EXPO in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

UMA Driver Competition
Raymond White II, second runner up in the UMA International Driver Competition, holds his award. (Jill Kelly)

“It’s been a point of pride for Prevost for many years to support this great annual drivers competition,” Tremblay said.  “As we are celebrating our 100th anniversary this year, improving the drivers’ experience has been an area where we put a lot of effort over the years, either by optimizing the dashboard, making sure the latest technologies are at their fingertips, or implementing many driverless features to make them feel more secure on the road.” 

He drew laughs and applause when he noted of the many improvements to the new H3-45 coach, the larger cup holder generated the most comments from drivers.

“Drivers are the face of our industry, and they’re the key to your business success,” Tremblay said. “The shortage of drivers that the industry has been experiencing for many years is a real challenge in today’s business environment. This is why it is so important to take good care of them, helping them to develop and especially recognize all the amazing work that they’re doing.”

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