25 millionth Mackinac Bridge crosser returns to celebrate a 50-year anniversary

ST. IGNACE, Mich. – On May 21, 1974, Bob Kuchar was a 24-year-old General Motors employee on vacation when he crossed the Mackinac Bridge on his 1972 Suzuki 250 motorcycle. Turns out, he was riding the 25 millionth vehicle to cross the bridge since it opened in 1957.

On May 23, 2024, Kuchar made the trip again – crossing in his 2017 Ford F-150 this time – to mark the 50th anniversary (plus two days) of that momentous crossing. 

“It was an experience for a 24-year-old, and it was just a cool feeling to be the 25 millionth across,” he said. “I couldn’t have been more welcomed by the Bridge Authority representatives from St. Ignace and Mackinaw City.” 

While Kuchar, who is now 74, had planned to cross the bridge this time on his 2019 Husqvarna 350 FE dual-sport motorcycle, he instead carried it across in his truck due to concerns about crossing the bridge’s grating during gusty winds. 

“To have my name associated with the iconic Mighty Mac, I’m no less humbled as I again was welcomed to visit with you all,” Kuchar said. “Some family and friends offered regrets that I didn’t get another picture of me on my cycle paying the toll, but most said, ‘maybe next time.'”

Though he’s crossed the bridge several times over the years, this crossing was just a day trip. After a quick tour of the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) administration and maintenance facility, he enjoyed a lunch at Clyde’s in St. Ignace before heading home. 

Back in 1974, when Kuchar was living in the Saginaw area, he was planning a trip all the way around Lake Michigan. He hadn’t expected the surprise at the Mackinac Bridge, which included a photo op with MBA Executive Secretary Lawrence Rubin and a prize package worth $500 donated by Straits-area businesses. It included hotel and meal vouchers, as well as a free tank of gas. Unfortunately, he had just filled up his four-gallon tank right before crossing.

As his trip continued around the lake, he stopped in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. An approaching storm scuttled the rest of his trip, and instead he crossed back across the lake on the ferry to Ludington. When he got home, his parents had several newspapers laid out on the kitchen table with articles about his historic Mackinac Bridge crossing. 

Kuchar retired from DELPHI Automotive Systems in 2005 and now lives in Fruitport with his wife of 45 years, Jackie. The couple has three children and two grandchildren.

EUP News Staff

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