Driving Liberty: A Professional Weighs In
Over the years, we’ve heard countless drivers rave about the experience of driving a Liberty Coach. But none of those “reviews” carried quite as much weight as the one we got last month from Kerby Duhon.
Kerby is truly “driver’s driver,” and we mean that literally. He’s been driving motorcoaches professionally since 2004, when a friend of his, a NASCAR driver on the old Busch Series (now Xfinity) circuit, offered him a job driving his RV, an Class A American Heritage, from race to race. A few years later, he went to work for Kyle Busch, for whom he drove a succession of Prevost buses, culminating in the custom-designed 2018 Elegant Lady the NASCAR superstar purchased last year.
The groundbreaking design and one-of-a-kind features of the Busch family’s “dream home on wheels” have been well documented, but little has been written about what it’s like to drive it. That’s an oversight Kerby is more than happy to address.
“There’s no fatigue in driving this bus,” he says of the Liberty. “That’s the biggest difference, first and foremost.” He describes the job of driving other coaches as just that: a job. “You really had to drive that thing, all day long,” he says about one bus-size fiberglass Class A he drove in his early years on the circuit. “I mean, you drove your 8-10 hours a day and your arm would be killing you from fighting the steering wheel all day long. I don’t have to do that with this bus.”
Another big difference lies in the quality of Liberty interior installations and workmanship. “The craftsmanship and attention to detail are just really phenomenal,” he points out. Other coaches he’s driven have been plagued by rattling cabinets, loose doors, and noisy components, all adding to the stress of the drive.
And stress is something every driver wants to minimize, considering the grueling schedule of the NASCAR season. We caught up with Kerby in Pocono, on a rare mid-week day off after driving in from New Hampshire two days before. He offered a snapshot of his typical work week.
“As soon as the race is over on Sunday evening, it’s time to get everything packed and ready to roll. Monday morning, I’m up early and on the road to Pocono.” The trip from New Hampshire is a 6-7 hour drive, which is relatively short by NASCAR standards; some can run up to 18 hours, which he does over two days.
Upon arrival, he parks the bus in the coach lot and gets to work right away washing the vehicles – the coach plus the pickup truck and golf cart that he tows behind. Tuesday and Wednesday he spends tidying up inside the coach, going to the grocery store and dry cleaners, doing laundry and anything else that needs doing before Kyle, Samantha and their son Brexton arrive on Thursday. They keep him busy throughout the weekend, and then after the race on Sunday, it starts all over again.
It’s a tight schedule week in and week out, with little room for error. Which brings up another big point of difference Kerby sees between Liberty and the other coaches he’s driven: service.
“You have to understand, during the season, we don’t have any downtime,” he says. “If something breaks down, we don’t have the luxury of sitting 2-3 days while somebody figures out how to fix a problem or get a part delivered.” He speaks from experience, having lived through “the worst two years of my life” with Kyle’s previous coach. “Things were always going wrong with it, interior systems, mechanical problems and such,” he says. “It was pretty much something new every day.”
That’s in stark contrast to the Liberty, which Kerby says has been remarkably problem-free. The biggest problem he’s encountered to date, a small issue with the bus air producing condensation on the interior windshield, was quickly resolved by Liberty’s North Chicago service team when the bus was in town for Kyle’s Cup Series win at the Chicagoland Speedway July 1st. Beyond that, very little needs attention, and when it does, help is as close as his phone.
“They’re really proactive,” Kerby says of the Liberty service team and particularly his “go-to guys,” Alex Konigseder and Vince Shaw. He gets a call from Alex, who handles Crestron programming and troubleshooting, at least once a week, “just to check in.” And when a mechanical issue comes up, one call to Vince, Liberty’s assistant service manager in Stuart, is usually all it takes. Kerby describes both as being “very, very knowledgable,” and well-versed at walking him through troubleshooting and small repairs – which is highly preferable to waiting for a service call.
“Liberty’s the best thing we got going out here,” Kerby says of the NASCAR coach scene. “When we first took delivery last year, let me tell you, this bus was the talk of the town. And it still is, actually.” He says other drivers routinely ask him about driving the Liberty, and he’s always quick to offer his professional opinion: Nothing else even comes close.