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Bus Dedicated to Bears Tailgating Goes on National TV


By Paul M. Banks

When it comes to football tailgating, one of the two major elements at work is usually controllable. Your team could be great (like the Chicago Bears were in ’06) or they might be awful (like Chicago was during most of the 1990s). But hopefully, what you’re eating is good. One place that always has great food is “Da Bus,” a renovated old school celebrating all things navy blue and burnt orange.

The tailgate surrounding it is THE place to be on gameday. Da Bus’s 20th season of tailgating includes an appearance on The Food Network Saturday night. This weekend, a national cable audience will see what Chicago’s best tailgate has to offer, as Da Bus will be featured on:

“Tailgate Warriors with Guy Fieri” Airing on the Food Networkda-bus2

Oct 17, 2009- 9PM ET/PT,

Oct 18, 2009- 12AM ET/PT

Oct 21, 2009- 8PM ET/PT

Owner/developer and Bears superfan Tim Shanley is hosting a watch party with his crew Saturday, October 17th from 3-9 pm at The Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, 1140 W. Jackson in Chicago. They’ll be watching the results of a tailgating competition held back on August 15th, when Da Bus and their crew went head-to-head in the parking lot of Ralph Wilson Stadium, with a Buffalo tailgating crew, prior to the Bears-Bills preseason contest. I marched with Shanley and his crew during the downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade this past spring. It also gave me a chance to talk with Shanley about the development of Da Bus.

“Basically, Timmy from Da Bus is a ten year old kid, that’s why I am out here. I need to thank my wife Elvira very much, who lets me do this. I fly in from Austin for every home game, and it’s over a thousand miles each way, 16 times a year. So I’m logging well over 16,000 miles and it’s tough, I can understand now how these players going on road trips, getting on airplanes back and forth all the time, how distracting that can be,” Shanley said.

Clearly he goes to great lengths to take care of tailgaters and Da Bus estimates over 5,000 served in their 20 years. “That’s what we like to do, serve tailgaters, that’s basically our premise,” Shanley said. An urban legend surrounds the story of how a former school bus metamorphosed into Da Bus.


“Some of Chicago’s finest, rumor has it, were playing cards back in ‘89 in a junk yard, and the bus was won in that game. The bus rolled into the Soldier Field parking lot in 1990, and after about 10 seasons the boys get tired, their crew falls apart. We’re all from Bridgeport, he knew me and asked do you want the bus? This was a match made in heaven. And by that time it had fallen into disrepair- no transmission, no muffler, no breaks. There wasn’t anything left to it, but I saved it from the scrap heap, I rebuilt it repainted, and I got clever and real aggressive in marketing it,” Tim said.

Indeed Shanley used all the wherewithal and connections he had to spread the word about the unique vehicle he rebuilt from the bottom up. “I had some friends that owned clubs downtown and the Bears would frequent these bars, so I had the inside track and once I was able to get one on board, they all followed. The 1st guy to sign was Kordell Stewart, who did nothing but complain and he didn’t sign it properly. The next guy, Brian Urlacher came aboard, signed it then the whole defense came on. Once the players came out, they saw they had a place for the families during the games, and that was key because when the families came around then it really spread,” he said.da-bus4

Over 40 Bears players, from 7 decades, have signed the bus. The oldest is from 1946, Jim Kean, a member of the World Champion team and one of QB Sid Luckman’s favorite targets. Familiar favorites such as Ditka, Butkus, Hampton etc. are all here as well.

The popularity with former players and their families has made Da Bus, like the team itself, both a regional and national brand. “We get calls from every town of every team that comes in here, wanting to hook up with the bus. And you know first hand how fun our party is. Yourtailgate.com, tailgating.com- these are gentlemen who take care of it throughout the nation, I’m in close with them and the word of mouth spreads.”

Food Network To Feature Bears Bus, Tailgating Contest


By Paul M. Banks
I love it when my friends get publicity for their creative endeavors. Well, the ones who are chill and modest about it when it happens anyway. I like the people who mention it once, are happy and excited and then move on. I loathe the people who email their press clippings to everyone they know twenty different times.

(By the way, did I mention that I was accepted into the Football Writers Association of America last week? And that I get to vote for their All-America team this winter?)

Anyways, one such friend who’s about to get some high profile publicity is Da Bus owner/developer and Bears superfan Tim Shanley. “Da Bus,” a renovated old school bus celebrating the Chicago Bears. I’ve been on Da Bus, which features a shrine to (and autographs from) pretty much every Bears Hall of Famer that you can name.

The tailgate surrounding it is THE place to be when you get your pre-game Bears party on at Soldier Field. Da Bus is kicking off its 20th season of tailgating with an appearance on THE FOOD NETWORK! The Bears are at Buffalo for a pre-season game on Saturday August 15th and The Food Network will do an entire segment called “Tailgate Warriors with Guy Fieri.” It features Da Bus and their crew going head to head against a tailgating crew from Buffalo. This competition will air on the channel sometime during the NFL season. (I will keep you posted and let you know when it airs) 

I rode on Da Bus and marched it Shanley and his crew during the downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade this past spring. I got a chance to be on local television when the float was featured during ABC’s telecast of the event. (I also sat down with Shanley and talked about how the whole history and development of Da Bus, look for that interview to be posted the week leading up to the Bears Home Opener.)

“After grilling for thousands of Bears fans who have boarded Da Bus to party on gameday over the past 20 seasons, being selected for THE FOOD NETWORK is the defining moment for Da Bus and its crew. Everyone out there knows that Timmy from Da Bus and his crew take pride in their tantalizing tidbits of tailgating fare,” Shanley said in a recent statement via email. dabus
If you want to hit the open road with them, the Producers from Food Network made terrific parking arrangements. Everyone in the Chicago contingent will be parked together; adjacent to the set to cheer on Da Bus during the taping of the segment.

Everyone will get a Bus t-shirt to wear as we unite to Cheer on Da Bus. The host of the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” Guy Fieri, will be out in the crowd with the camera observing all the tailgating and grilling taking place.

Perhaps you’re not as familiar with Guy Fieri as I am. (After all, he’s my live-in girlfriend’s celebrity crush…See footnote one) In addition to his Food Network gig, he’s the official spokesperson for T.G.I. Friday’s, the guy with the blond spiky hair, goatee and Bam Bam Bigelow style shirts from the ads. (See footnote 2)  guy_fieriheadshot

“Any one who ran into Da Bus in Miami for the Super Bowl a few years back knows what its like to be on the road with Da Bus…a great time…great food…great party…and lots of energy!” Shanley stated.

I wish the best of luck to Shanley and his crew as they prepare for another open road adventure. Much like us here in Chicago are trying to bring the 2106 Olympics home, the Second City must rightfully claim the Food Network’s first ever “TAILGATE WARRIOR” grilling title! (See footnote 3)

1. My Food Network celebrity chef crush is Giada, in case you were wondering.

2. Sorry, for the footnote. These can be annoying

3. GO BEARS!!!!!