Racecar drivers from as far away as North Carolina and Minnesota competed in the 2017 Michigan Challenge put on by the Michigan Kart Club, a part of the American Kart Racing Association, held at Michigan International Speedway on September 16 and 17, but one participant didn’t have to drive very far to race in the event.
In fact, Michael Slusher, a 17-year-old Onsted High School junior, took first place in his class.
While Slusher didn’t have to travel far to get to MIS, getting there has been a life-long adventure for the entire family.
Kart racing is a team effort for the Slusher family. Michael and his father, Mike, do all their own wrenching on the go karts in a pole barn outside their home, along with the help of seasoned engine builder Bill Walters of Stoney Creek Motor Sports in Belleville. Michael’s father and mother, Cheryl, not only attend all the races he has participated in over the years, Cheryl has also served as track photographer at their home track of Palmyra Speedway, located just outside of Adrian.
Slusher has been racing since he was 8-years-old. When racing got in Michael’s blood, his father formed M&M Racing to further the obsession, and over his nine-year racing career Michael has driven, built and rebuilt several different go karts, including a 4-cycle Briggs & Stratton, a 2-stroke Yamaha KT100, and the 2007 Tag 2 cycle 125cc liquid cooled Margay that won at MIS.
“He is a natural at it,” said Cheryl of her son’s ability to fix motors, noting that he has taken after his father, a long-haul trucker who also knows his way around an engine.
The Slushers moved to Onsted in 2013, where Michael began attending Onsted Community Schools in the sixth grade. While at Onsted, he has attended the Lenawee Intermediate School District Automotive Services Tech Program. He has also worked as an internship with Link Trucking out of Homer, which has sparked Michael’s intended career path as a diesel mechanic.
Slusher, who at 17 years of age is already a certified brake technician, has already been accepted at the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) in the Diesel and Industrial Technology Program. He will attend a 45-week training program at the Avondale, Arizona campus, then an additional 12-week training specific to Freightliner, and walk out with a job of his choice at an accredited Freightliner company.
Of course, when it comes to pursuing racing, local sponsors are important. Those that helped fuel the Slusher obsession include Phenicie Intelligent Design, Inc., Top of the Hill Restaurant, Jerry’s Taxidermy, Hubbard’s Auto Center, Patriot Inn, O-Town Pizza, Bush Wacker Barbershop and Randy’s Roadside BBQ.