Michael Vaters’ “Higher Education” a monster school bus has been a project in the making for 5 years. Long time veteran in the monster truck industry for 29 years Michael Vaters debuted the permanent identity of the third monster truck in his stables…..Higher Education in Montreal at the Olympic Stadium. Vaters bought the Killer Bee monster truck last year and ran the Killer Bee body for a couple of shows, also the team put a Black Stallion body on the truck and ran it the first quarter of this year in the Monster Jam series. Higher Education is driven by long time crew member and family friend Jimmy Tracey.
Ken Nelson’s Cool Bus Wheel Stander
Vaters has always had a great respect for and been a big fan of Ken Nelson and his wheel stander Cool Bus. Ken at age 72 races the Cool Bus down 1/4 mile drag strips at over 100 miles per hour and has been for 15 years now. Cool Bus was designed and built by Ken and his wife and they travel all over the United States, Canada and Mexico every summer exhibiting at drag strips. Five years ago Mike shared his idea with Ken to build a school bus monster truck and they both thought it would be a good idea and definitely popular with the kids.
When the Killer Bee truck became available Mike found his opening to make the monster truck bus idea happen. After leaving the Dayton OH show Vaters traveled to Ken’s hometown of Ashland OH and picked up the nose of the Cool Bus to make a mold from and as a starting point for the rest of the bus.
Vaters has been designing and engineering the truck for some time so when they started the build he had very specific ideas and plans. Because of this and many man hours in the shop by the Black Stallion team it was completed in 13 days. Higher Education is built in 3/4 scale. When designing the bus Michael Vaters new that they would have to build the body stronger to withstand the abuse that a monster truck goes through. Michael Vaters has been building his own molds and fiberglass body parts as well as parts for other monster truck drivers for a couple of years now. They built two fiberglass sections to make up the roof and a fiberglass front clip. The sides of the bus are built from fiberboard donated by Capitol Building Supply in Hagerstown MD one of Black Stallions sponsors. The paint (school bus yellow) was provided by PPG another of our generous sponsors and painted by the Stallion crew in house. Vaters wanted the bus to have all the details to make it look as realistic as possible. Vaters fabricated black rub rails to run down the sides of the bus and installed flashing lights and a flip our STOP sign.
Higher Education debuted April 9th in Montreal at the Olympic Stadium. During the pit party the bus hidden from the spectators during the pit party and not brought out until after the wheelie competition. The house lights of the Stadium were dimmed as Higher Education driven by Jimmy Tracey roared out onto the track lights flashing to the music of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In the Wall.” The crowd went crazy on their feet cheering……the monster bus Higher Education went over real big!!!!! A concept idea that will have a huge following especially with the kids…..what could be more awesome for a kid than to see a school bus like they ride in every day getting big air super pumped up on horse power causing destruction and crushing cars, buses, RVs and everything else in its path. Michael and Denise Vaters want to send out a special thanks to Ken and his wife for their help and cooperation in making this project happen.
Higher Education Videos:
2011 Ottawa ON Higher Education FS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KaF4LjVHm4
2011 Ottawa ON Higher Education vs Avenger Racing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOaZrMhxCEE
2011 April Montreal CAN Cool Bus vs Red Baron: http://youtu.be/IY6xsR6jNQA
2011 April Montreal CAN Cool Bus vs Big Foot: http://youtu.be/EnA7ROLsSOk