Racing Back to His Roots
Words and Photos: John Gunnell
As far as motorcycles go, Mike Micheli’s new one has sent him racing back to his roots. He started riding on an Indian Scout in 1955, when he was 15. In 1975, he started racing motorcycles and stuck with it for 27 years. Now, he is 77 years old and he just bought a new Indian.
“I have a photo of me on that first Indian,” Micheli said. “It was snapped in a back alley in Elwood, Ind., but I don’t know the year of the Indian Scout. I wish someone could tell me how old it was.”
According to Sue Chapman, who rides with Mike on the back of the new Indian, Micheli raced all over the country. His home track was in Aztalan Park near Lake Mills, Wis. “The track was located tight in the park,” he explained. “I think that’s why my motorcycle racing club decided on using the name Aztalan.”
Micheli’s first racer was a Maico motorcycle made in Germany. After that he switched to racing Hondas and he finally wound up on Kawasakis. He was 60 years old when he won an AMA National Championship.
“Surprisingly, I competed against a a lot of tough old coots who were still racing,” he added. “They went really fast. So, I was glad to cap my career off with a win and then I quit.”
The racing wasn’t easy. Aztalan had a motorcross track that was rough with “too many jumps,” Micheli said. “They had jumps we called whoop-dee-do’s. We had a dirt track for guys into flat track racing. So, it was a club for all different types of racing sanctioned by the American Motorcycle Assoc. (AMA) and I’m still a lifetime member.”
Micheli traded in a ’95 Ducati (one of three he owned) to get the Indian from a dealer in Madison, Wis. “I wanted a different kind of riding; I wanted a more comfortable ride and a bike that was safer and more passenger-friendly for Sue.” He said that the Indian’s 64-cid twin makes 100 hp. “But, it is very lightweight for the type of bike it is and it weighs only about 580 lbs. with liquids.”
Micheli still works part-time as a Certified Personal Trainer and fitness coach. He knows that riding a motorcycle is a very physical experience, but thinks that riding is good from a fitness standpoint. “When I was a Junior in high school, I had some back trouble and I wore a brace for awhile,” he explained. “I started riding and the problem went away. Riding seems to toughen up your core.”
Micheli said his new motorcycle is great “I absolutely love it,” he told Biker Hotline. “In fact, I like it more each passing day.