Original 'Madden Cruiser' Reaches Las Vegas

Artifacts Published on : 1/7/2022

One of the world’s most famous buses arrived in Las Vegas today after a long journey from Northeast Ohio.

The “Madden Cruiser I” will be on display and open for tours at Allegiant Stadium this weekend as the Las Vegas Raiders pay tribute to Hall of Fame coach John Madden, who passed away Dec. 28, 2021 at age 85.

Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, Madden coached the Raiders – then in Oakland – for 10 seasons in the AFL and NFL. He never recorded a losing season, posted a career record (including playoffs) of 112-39-7 and led the Raiders to a Super Bowl title following the 1976 season in which his team finished 16-1 overall.

The Madden Cruiser, one of the most popular items (and largest) in the Collection at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, left a storage facility in Ohio this week. It will be open for staff tours at Raiders headquarters today, then public tours Saturday and Sunday.

A Greyhound bus was converted into the first Madden Cruiser in 1987, a few years after Madden transitioned from his Hall of Fame coaching career into what became an iconic broadcasting career. Uncomfortable flying, he opted to travel the long distances to game assignments by train. Eventually, that became inconvenient, and he decided a bus would be the ideal alternative.

The interior of the Madden Cruiser I was restored to its original condition a few years ago following its donation to the Pro Football Hall of Fame by Madden. It features what was then state-of-the-art technology, that includes:

  • Two color televisions
  • Telephone and intercommunications system
  • Citizen’s band radio
  • Two laser disc players
  • Built-in vacuum cleaner
  • Stereo system
  • Videotape player

There is also a queen-size bed in a private bedroom along with a full bathroom and a kitchenette complete with a microwave oven. Willie Yarbrough of Los Angeles was the longest-serving of a handful of drivers of the Madden Cruisers and covered 55,000 miles that first year. The bus logged roughly 80,000 miles annually in subsequent years.

The Madden Cruiser I will return to Ohio next week and be put back into storage at a bus management facility.

On Thursday, the Raiders announced that Coach Madden’s family – his wife, Virginia; his sister, Judy; his sons, Mike and Joe and their wives; and Madden’s grandsons, Jesse and Jack – will light the Al Davis Memorial Torch at Allegiant Stadium prior to the Sunday night game between the Raiders and the Chargers. The winner of that renewal of the traditional rivalry dating to the AFL’s first year (1960) will advance to the playoffs.

The NFL announced today there will be a public memorial service for Madden on Tuesday, Feb. 15, in Oakland. Further details will be announced in the near future.