Ken Richardson and his fellow party-goers come well-prepared for tailgating before University of Louisville football games, arriving in a vehicle that he and Paul, his late brother, bought for $2,800 at a yard sale five years ago. Between 30 and 40 people tailgate regularly in two spots in Section A, Row V of the Green Lot.
The truck, nicknamed the End Zone Express by their mother Bellie, is a 1988 GMC Ambassador and a former ambulance. Ken and Paul, from Okolona, undertook the challenge of re-engineering the vehicle with some mechanical expertise from Gray & Wells Auto Body Shop. They also sold advertising panels to a few businesses, including the Doo Wop Shop, Romeo’s Pizza, Shenanigan’s Highlands, and J. D. Becker’s.
Ken, a truck driver for Xpedx paper products, often drives the vehicle in parades and participates in car shows. Don Hays, a co-worker, did all the graphics. The vehicle is equipped with a good sound system, and he makes it available for anniversary and graduation parties.
“Any money we make goes back into the product. We can’t go anywhere without someone wanting take photos of it,” he says, noting that he is always working to improve the vehicle. “One of the things we want to do is add a flat screen TV.”
This Friday, prior to the UofL-Cincinnati game, they will go with a Halloween theme, complete with a graveyard with tombstones, a horse-drawn hearse, caskets and mechanical zombies. “Last year UofL President Jim Ramsey and his wife, Jane, stopped by and spent about a half hour with us,” he said. “I was really humbled they would spend so much time with us.”
Ken also noted that the UofL Athletic Department sent flowers when Paul passed away from pancreatic cancer two years ago. “We love the university,” he said. “The No. 1 goal of the End Zone Express is to promote University of Louisville athletics.”