I had the opportunity to interview Tom with The Broncos Bus, who have made it to the Bing National Tailgating Championship Finals in Dallas, Texas tomorrow. The Broncos Bus was founded 8 years ago and has 14 owners. Among other accomplishments, they can tout the following stats:
- 81 straight home games attended
- $4,500 raised for various charities over the 2010 season
- 7,202 beers consumed by Broncos Bus faithful
- Many safe, DUI-free rides after drinking the aforementioned beers
- 180 pounds of meat consumed by the crew each season
- 50 gallons of green chili consumed each season
- 4,888 bean bags in cornholes
- 1000 epic beer-pong battles
And finally, 1 Bing National Tailgating Regional Championship!
Here is the brief interview, many thanks to Tom from the Broncos Bus for taking the time to talk to me. I look forward to talking to these guys more in the 2011 tailgating season!
TG365: How did you find out about the Bing National Tailgating Championship?
Tom: The Bus actually learned about the whole competition over the Halloween weekend as I traveled to London with the team for the 49ers game. Brady Kellogg in the Broncos corporate partnerships office asked me if he could connect me with some folks representing Bing! in a regional tailgating competition. After several discussions with the Bing! National Tailgating Championships crew, we agreed to participate. It has been a wild ride to be sure.
TG365: How long have you been tailgating, and do you only do football games?
Tom: The BroncosBus has been in existence since 2003. During this span, the Bus has traveled to 81 consecutive home games. Prior to the Bus, many of the 16 owners tailgated in a much less formal manner at Broncos home games.
The Bus makes occasional appearances at other events and concerts in and around Denver, but nothing matches its Sunday setup. In the past few years, it has paid visits to Red Rocks concerts, The National Western Stock Show (an annual event), and on one occasion two summers ago, it proudly carried one of its owners and his wedding party (which also included several other owners) to and from the wedding ceremony and reception.
TG365: I am a season ticket holder with the Broncos, and love the pre-game atmosphere. Tell us what makes Denver one of the best fan spots for tailgating.
Tom: Well, it’s hard to compete with the fan avidity here. There’s a reason why the Broncos have boasted the league’s second-longest consecutive sellout streak. It is a proud franchise and an institution across the state of Colorado. I think that the new stadium lends itself very well to the tailgating experience. There are some ‘staple tailgates’ in the lots immediately to the West and South of the Stadium and together, I think we all offer up quite a party.
Added to that, it’s hard to compete with our setting. With the Mountains to our left, and an iconic skyline to our right, I would contend that there is no better setting for tailgates in the NFL. It is the perfect place to be on a fall afternoon.
TG365: What’s the most commonly requested item that you make?
Tom: Hands down, our hamburgers are the most popular item that we serve on game days. All of our burger materials are provided to us through the generosity of the Cherry Cricket. In addition to all of their recognition in local publications and on the TV show Man v. Food, they are a loyal partner of the BroncosBus.
TG365: What are your favorite things to make on game days?
Tom: I would definitely say the hamburgers are a favorite item for us. However, we added some delicious “walking tacos” to the repertoire this season and they were an absolute hit with our tailgating faithful. If you haven’t tried a “walking taco,” some in our crew would argue that you are un-American.
TG365: Do you do anything special for road games when you are at home watching?
Tom: Usually, road games present the Bus owners with a good opportunity to catch up on all of the odds and ends and unattended items around their respective houses. Road games are also a great opportunity to win back some favor with wives and girlfriends in the form of ‘quality time.’
TG365: Speaking of road games, how many do you get to attend?
Tom: Believe it or not, the trip to Dallas will mark the first-ever “road game” in the history of the BroncosBus. However, several owners were able to make it to the Broncos-Ravens game (if you want to call it a ‘game’… it was more of a capitulation) in Baltimore. I also had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to London with the Broncos for the Halloween matchup with the 49ers. Very cool.
TG365: Tell us a little about your tailgating setup.
Tom: Well, the Bus is obviously the centerpiece. Aboard the Bus, we have three TVs- two inside and one affixed to the outside. On game days, these TVs are tuned in to the early games on the networks. In addition to the TVs, the Bus has its own hard drive with 10,000+ songs. The music selection is remotely coordinated jukebox style through each owner’s iPhone (or other smartphone). All of this technological wizardry results from the hard work of one owner (Jeff Wheeler). We are very much indebted to him on that front.
Beyond the Bus, we have an array of seating, tented areas and all of the customary tailgating games that require refined skill: cornhole, washers, and Beirut (or ‘Beer Pong’ as it is widely known).
In exchange for all of the free food, beer, SmartWater and general revelry, the Bus asks its tailgating guests to donate to pay it forward by donating to a charity of our choosing. The owners take a lot of pride in our charitable efforts and we have a lot of fun selecting different charities and causes to support each Sunday.
TG365: Are you planning anything special for the big day this weekend, or are you going to stick with what got you there?
Tom: I think we’ll stick to what we know best, and that’s a healthy serving of Orange and Blue Broncomaina. After all, that is what landed us a spot this competition. That said, we do have some tricks up our sleeve.
Broncomania aside, we have also decided to devote any proceeds raised during our Dallas tailgate to ColoradoUpLift, a local organization that seeks to empower urban young people to become leaders and productive citizens through long-term relational support. It’s a very noble cause and a fantastic operation here in town.
TG365: Who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl?
Tom: The cheerleaders. I think I can speak on behalf of the entire Bus when I say that the Steelers are one of the most contemptible teams in the NFL (beyond the AFC west rivals, of course). We don’t really have an opinion on the Packers: the Orange and Blue tend to get the best of them when it matters most.
Best of luck to Tom and the rest of the Broncos Bus crew tomorrow, let’s see you represent Denver and bring that title home!