CLINTON — A champion is in the ranks of the Clinton Municipal Transit Administration, and for the first time in 21 years, Clinton will be represented by the top seed in the national championship Bus Roadeo competition.
Dan Dopson, a 10-year MTA veteran and para-transit driver, earned the title of Iowa Public Transit Association Bus Roadeo champion on June 21, after battling more than 18 competitors from the state of Iowa in the Light Duty bus division of the challenge. The challenge pits drivers against one another on an intricate and detailed obstacle course.
“I’d never been to this competition before but it’s an obstacle course and they give you so much time to get through it,” Dopson said. “There were cones and barrels and tennis balls everywhere on this course; a lot of trucks going this way and that way. It was utter chaos but it was kind of fun.”
As a first-time competitor, Dopson didn’t know what to expect and didn’t have much confidence that he would do well in the bus challenge.
But, in a surprise to himself and MTA Director Dennis Hart, Dopson defeated the current, light-duty division national champion and took first place.
“The gal he beat, she’s won 16 years out of the 18 years doing it and she had just won nationals a few weeks before,” Hart said. “So, it’s really amazing that he won.”
Jean Dalsing, of Region 8 Regional Transit Authority in Dubuque, was recently named Otis Reed Jr. National Driver of the Year. She finished second to Dopson at the Iowa Roadeo race.
Though Dopson has 10 years of experience driving the para-transit bus, Dopson thinks his true advantage in the competition was his 23 years with the Clinton Fire Department.
During annual training, obstacle courses were frequently used by the fire department to teach drivers and other fire crews how to hone in on their abilities to maneuver the large fire trucks into limiting areas.