Using NHRA racing as a vehicle to spread the word of the Lord and help prevent children from drug addiction suits Mike Bucher just fine.
This weekend at NHRA’s Division 3 race in Norwalk, Ohio, Bucher is piloting the Top Alcohol Dragster owned by the family team of Jared and Randy Dreher to help accomplish his mission.
The Dreher Motorsports dragster is sporting the Hope Over Heroin campaign on its side panels. Bucher is the son of Jim Bucher, a popular Top Fuel driver who won the 1975 NHRA Summer Nationals before becoming sick and eventually passing away in 1977 at the age of 37.
"Hope Over Heroin is a faith-based ministry believing in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform lives," said Bucher. "It has been acknowledged by those in the industry that the faith- based element is a missing and necessary link in treatment and can be the difference between life and death. While we are a faith-based organization, we recognize the importance of uniting every community resource to successfully address the fight against addiction."
Bucher is a pastor at the Calvary Chapel of Cleveland (Ohio).
“I’ve been wanting to do it (racing) with this ministry focus because Ohio is the worst as far as opioid heroin deaths,” Bucher said. “One in nine in the nation happens in Ohio. I thought here I am doing this racing, what if I could somehow use racing to help prevent drug addiction.”

On Saturday May 19, Bucher brought in about 60 kids to the tower at Summit Motorsports Park.

“We did a presentation with food, but I’had time to talk to them,” Bucher said. “All the money goes to addicts once they are addicted. If someone gets addicted, the minimum cost to get them off drugs is $30,000. What I have been telling people is what if I turn one kid from drugs? It’s cheaper to pay for the race car than to have them get addicted. I know I’m going to turn kids from drugs. If Big Daddy (Don Garlits) told me to stand on my head in the middle of a street intersection I would have done it at 10 years old because of who he was. To young kids, you have to reach them when they are like 10. I want to be able to spend time with them and maybe let some of them sit in the car. This ministry Hope over Heroin, they have all these rallies across the state of Ohio and they also are going to be here talking to people.”

Bucher said he’s paying to drive the Dreher dragster this weekend and the money isn’t coming from Hope Over Heroin.

“I have sponsors who I approached, and I said I wanted to do something to promote this ministry and I asked them if they wanted to help,” he said. “Without all my sponsors, I wouldn’t be able to do this.”

Bucher said sponsors Realty Warehouse, Mufflers For Less, B.A. Sweeties Candy, Nelson Trucking, Ams Oil, Prevent Pest Control, Surace and Smith Maximum Velocity, Motorsports Unlimited, and Mastr Pizza made it possible for him to race the Dreher’s dragster.

According to Bucher, he’s also going to drive the Dreher dragster and carry the Hope Over Heroin banner at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals June 21-24 in Norwalk.

“The last time I drove a dragster before this weekend was I did a test run in Columbus (Ohio),” Bucher said. “Before that I drove in 2016 at the Columbus regional race.”

Through his ministry work, Bucher came in contact with Brian Corradi, a former co-crew chief for Top Fuel driver Antron Brown and current co-crew chief with Courtney Force.

Corradi and Brown helped Bucher obtain his Top Alcohol Dragster license in 2016.

“I got my license in 2016 and did a couple of events in 2016, but then I didn’t do anything in 2017 because it is all about getting money and sponsors,” Bucher said. “I’m a pastor with 14 kids and I think my gift more than anything is reaching kids a talking to people and turning them away from drugs and turn them towards the Lord. This weekend, if I could impress on one kid’s brain not to ever touch drugs it would be a success. I don’t mind helping addicts, but I would rather prevent someone from being addicted.”

Bucher, 56, acknowledged spreading his message from this platform is more important than his race results.

“I’m still learning how to drive and there’s a lot of learning curve,” he said. “I went from Frank Hawley’s Super Comp School to A Fuel Dragster, nothing in between. I was supposed to drive my dad’s (dragster) when I turned 18 and he died when I was 16. Jesus came in and changed me forever. I wanted other people from the drag racing world to find out what I found. As awesome as drag racing is, I know something better and it is the Lord. My dream is not drag racing, but it is using drag racing as something more. The ministry is the focus and I want to reach people. I will not race just to race.”