Frank A. Spadaro, 52, a Metro or D.C. Transit bus driver for 13 years, won this week the American Public Transit Association's international bus driving championship in competition with 46 other drivers.
Spadaro, a citizens' band radio buff whose call name is "The Godfather," scored 668 of a possible 700 points to win the championship by two points. The runnerup was from Calgary, Albert, Canada.
"I though he was awfully good," said Ethel Spadaro, who accompanied her husband to Toronto at Metro's expense and watched him compete."I thought if he wasn't going to be first, he was sure to be second."
To win the championship and a $1,000 savings bond, Spadaro drove through a complicated test course that presented 11 driving problems. Points were subtracted for such things as opening the bus door too far from the curb. Drivers also were rated on the smoothness with which they drove the bus, their personal appearance, and the time in which they completed the course.
It was the first time Washington Metro has entered the competition, called the National Bus Roadeo. Metro General Manager Theodore C. Lutz cut the travel budget for his staff by $3,000 to pay for a Metro competition and to send the winner and his wife to the national contest.
Lutz almost knocked down a reporter from The Baltimore Sun here yesterday as he sprinted to the stage to congratulate Spadaro. To win the Roadeo is a big deal for transit officials and more than 1,000 of them were standing and applauding as Spadaro took the trophy. It was presented by Pauline McGibbon, lieutenant governor of Ontario.
"I was fine while I was driving the bus," Spadaro said. "But once I got out of it and was through the course, I really felt nervous."
The Roadeo is a big deal with bus drivers, too. Two years ago, when a Lansing, Mich., driven won, he was greeted at the airport back home by a brass band and many of his colleagues.
Spadaro lives in Pasadena, in Anne Arundel County. He is assigned to the Blandensburg bus division and drives an early-morning charter every day, then regularly scheduled service on the D4 route from Sibley Hospital to Faragut Square.
Before joining Metro's predecessor, D.C. Transit, 13 years ago, Spadaro was employed for 14 years as a bus driver by Baltimore Transit.