Buckeye fan to turn fire truck into tailgating dream machine
Published: Sunday, February 21, 2010
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 00:06
It previously served a fire department in Michigan, but from now on, this fire truck belongs to the Scarlet and Gray.
Buckeye fan Travis Van Ness bought a fire truck on eBay in October 2009 with the goal of turning it into the ultimate tailgating vehicle. But before he could launch his "Fire Buck" project, he had to take a trip into the land of the Buckeye rivals.
"I made a covert trip — classified as ‘Operation Fire Buck' — into enemy territory to rescue the truck and convert it into what is sure to be one of the most recognizable OSU-themed vehicles in Ohio," said Van Ness, a patient care associate at the Ohio State University Medical Center.
The fire engine, a Ford C-8000 Sanford Pumper, most recently belonged to a landscaping company that used it to transport water.
But Van Ness decided it was prudent not to tell the previous owners in Michigan of his grand scheme.
"I kept everything a secret until after I placed the cash in [the previous owner's] hands and had the keys and title in mine," he said.
He crossed the Ohio-Michigan border on Oct. 10, 2009, to bring the engine home.
He also had to keep the project a secret from his family.
"It was classified because I didn't want my mother to find out I spent money on a fire truck," he said. "She wouldn't have been happy."
Van Ness said the Fire Buck will feature two flat-screen televisions, high-definition satellite coverage of Buckeye football games, a video game system, propane grill, and removable seating on the rear deck.
He said he has entertained fans' suggestions of installing a hot tub in the engine's rear deck and changing the water tanks into kegs.
However, the final plans are known only by Van Ness.
Restoration of the tailgating machine will likely cost $20,000, not including the price of the televisions or luxury features. Van Ness has already spent $6,250 and is seeking donations and sponsorship from businesses. He said he has no commercial sponsors yet but has received donations from fellow fans.
Carie Wolfe, a paralegal from Chillicothe, Ohio, and friend of Van Ness, is one of those contributors.
"It only made sense to donate to the project," Wolfe said. "I have tailgated in the past, mostly at Hiney Gate, but will now have a new, more unique place to tailgate."
She says she "cannot wait to celebrate the Buckeyes, Fire Buck style."
Van Ness applied for a parking spot for the 2010 football season, but has not yet received one of the much-coveted tailgating spots near Ohio Stadium.
"The end result was directing me to park in the RV parking near Bill Davis Stadium," he said. "I am much more interested in parking closer to the fans and would love suggestions on how I could better display that Buckeye pride."
In addition to tailgating at football games, Van Ness said he hopes to use "The OSU Fire Buck" for other events.
"OSU isn't just a football college," he said. "I would like to support as many of the programs as I can."
The OSU Fire Buck is stationed at Street Creations Body Shop in Groveport, Ohio, for body and paint work, and then will be on its way to Auto Additions in Westerville, Ohio, for graphics. Once finished, the engine will resemble an OSU football helmet.
Visit operationfirebuck.com to receive updates on the transformation of the OSU Fire Buck.