Larry Jeffers had just finished running his incredible Bad Bus during an exhibition pass as part of the ADRLâ€™s Memphis Drags III at Memphis International Raceway when he saw a trail of children following him and the bus back to his pit area.
All of them were laughing and cheering with delight, hoping to catch another glimpse of one of the most unique exhibition vehicles in drag racing.
If Jeffers, who owns Jeffers Pro Cars just outside of St. Louis, needed any reassurance about what impact his radical school bus gone extreme would have, a long and steady stream of children with smiles on their faces was all he needed to see.
â€œJust seeing the smile on their faces is incredible. Thatâ€™s why I built it,â€ Jeffers said. â€œRunning under the lights is awesome. We probably had about 50 kids chasing us back to the pits.â€
Jeffers and his â€œBad Busâ€ was a hit both at the track at the Memphis Drags III and off it,where he made a number of appearances in the Memphis area, showing off the bus that has already become an instant hit everywhere it has gone.
Jeffers, his son, Garrett, and his entire team, along with staff from the ADRL and Memphis International Raceway made appearances at St. Jude Childrenâ€™s Hospital in Memphis, Atoka Elementary School and Woodstock Middle School.
At each location, dozens of children got to visit with Jeffers and also get an up close look at the supercharged bus and all its unique features.
Of course, in between all of the smiles and laughs, Jeffers shared a heartfelt anti-bullying message, which was the underlying reason for building the one-of-a-kind bus.
â€œMy little niece had leukemia about two years ago and went back to school with no hair and they started picking on her. Whenever I do one of these appearances, I always talk about not bullying other kids and treating people right,” Jeffers said.
Having the bus as the centerpiece provides a unique way to grab the childrenâ€™s attention, but it has clearly helped get the message across.
At the Memphis Drags III, Jeffers and the bus went an incredible 3.79 at 194 mph, showing the bus is about more than just a crowd-pleasing look.
â€œIâ€™m going to be here (at the ADRL races) with customers, so I figured I would bring something like this and have fun. Iâ€™ve been gathering part for a long time and finally got it put together,â€ said Jeffers, whose customers include ADRL world champions Frankie Taylor and Todd Tutterow.
Jeffers has always been about outside-the-box thinking, but nothing exemplifies that more than the Bad Bus.
But itâ€™s not about grabbing headlines or attention for Jeffers. He simply wants to inspire and motivate the younger generation â€“ and maybe create some new drag racing fans in the process.
â€œThe kids have been awesome and itâ€™s just really cool to see. Whatâ€™s amazing to me is that a lot of them have been to the dragstrip as well. The only way drag racing is going to continue to grow is to get the kids involved.â€
Jeffers already has plans to build a supercharged fire truck for the 2013 racing season, matching it up against the Bad Bus for what he envisions will be some spectacular match races.
In the meantime, Jeffers will continue to inspire, spread his anti-bullying message, bring smiles to childrenâ€™s faces and get one special request in the process.
â€œThey wanted to drive it. Thatâ€™s what I heard the most,â€ Jeffers said. â€œIâ€™ve really gotten a kick out of it.â€