The MGNOC (Moto Guzzi National Owners Club) is an international club for the Moto Guzzi owner and enthusiast. Membership totals around 3200 people. All 50 states are represented, also several provinces in Canada and 16 or 17 other countries. The MGNOC supports and cooperates with others in providing thirty or more Moto Guzzi rallies every year. Also we help sponsor several smaller gatherings, which provide opportunities to kick tires and to enjoy Moto Guzzi camaraderie.
Our main instrument of communications is our monthly newsletter. This newsletter generally consists of 36 to 44 pages, but a recent issue had 48 pages. A popular regular department in each issue is the classified ads for the sale of used bikes, accessories, parts, and other items for which there is always a demand. This section is free to the members who submit an ad containing up to 50 words per issue.
The newsletter also has articles dealing with technical information, touring, racing, and road tests on current and past models. News covering various subjects of interest to Moto Guzzi owners is often found within the monthly newsletters.
The MGNOC is a small club, compared to some, but the members are very devoted to the marque, and most are active motorcyclists who probably ride more miles in an average year than many motorcyclists.
Now, of course, we have our own web site for everyone to look at, and we hope Guzzi people will find it useful and interesting. We've come a long way when one considers how the club actually came to life.
Very late in the year of 1970 a motorcycle magazine by the name of Motorcycle World (now defunct), printed a letter written by a fellow who was about to take delivery on a brand new 1970 750cc Moto Guzzi Ambassador. The new owner (Dennis Sterlace), had written the magazine asking for people about their experience and what they considered the pros and cons of the Moto Guzzi Ambassador. I wrote to Dennis and we began exchanging letters. After corresponding for a month or more, we decided to try to get a Moto Guzzi correspondence club going. Dennis lived in Lackawanna, New York, and I lived in the tiny town of to Sylvan Grove, Kansas. I wrote a letter to Road Rider magazine. Road Rider printed my letter, which asked for interested Moto Guzzi owners to contact either Dennis or myself (Frank Wedge). Letters (although small in numbers at first) began coming in from all parts of the United States and a couple from Canada.
In the beginning our only contact was through the written word via the U.S. post office. Gradually our numbers grew to the point where we wanted a newsletter to keep everyone advised. A member in New Orleans (Wayne Hallstead) volunteered to do a newsletter, and so he published a small paper for a few months. Eventually the labor of love was passed onto me, and my first issue was published in May of 1973. It was only an eight-page issue that was sent to approximately 200 to 300 people.
The first newsletter I produced was done with a $10 used portable typewriter. I eventually wore that first one out, and over the years I managed to finish off several other typewriters until, in 1983, we bought our first computer, an original PC by IBM. When I purchased the $10 typewriter I could not have imagined buying the first computer, much less accomplishing the things we now do with computers, i.e. the Internet.
Our first national rally was organized by my wife and me and took place north of Manhattan, Kansas in the summer of 1972. The next seventeen years the National took place in the state of Kansas. The breakdown is as follows: five years in Manhattan, eight years in Sylvan Grove and five years in Abilene. Also in 1993 the national was held in Abilene, Kansas. Since 1993 the national has been held in West Virginia (1994), Arkansas (1995), Washington State (1996), Iowa (1997) and West Virginia (1998). In 1999 the national will take place in northern New Mexico, 20 miles southeast of Taos.
Dennis Sterlace and I are still good friends. But instead of writing letters with pen in hand, we now exchange emails. While Dennis has remained a member all these years, he decided long ago he wanted nothing to do with the operation of the MGNOC, and several years back he left motorcycling completely. But it was his idea to start the club, and I was the one who followed through.
What I find most interesting even after so many years is that there was no address listed with Dennis' letter that was published in the magazine. At that time I lived in a tiny town of 400 people, so I thought perhaps Dennis also lived in a small town. In the small town of Sylvan Grove the mail carrier and post master knew everyone in town, so no problem receiving mail without street address or box number. I finished off my hand-written letter (didn't own a typewriter then) and addressed the envelope to Dennis Sterlace, Lackawanna, NY, as published in the magazine. That was it! Before I mailed the envelope I was curious about the size of Lackawanna, so I looked in my road atlas. I found that Lackawanna, New York had a population of 34,000 people! I already had the letter in the envelope, so I put a six-cent stamp on it as I felt there wasn't much I could lose by going ahead and sending it: To my surprise, less than two weeks later, I received a reply from Dennis. This was really the beginning of the MGNOC! The seed was planted and within a few weeks the Guzzi club had officially begun. Luckily for us the postal service was functioning in an "above-and- beyond-the-call-of-duty" manner. I later found out from Dennis that when the envelope arrived without a proper address, a postal employee showed the envelope to some of the mail carriers. One mail carrier recognized the name as a resident on his route. Dennis was one guy you didn't forget easily - he stood six feet tall, had a full black beard and weighed 300 pounds.
Now, 25 years later, I sometimes think back at how everything fell into place so that Dennis and I were able to start up the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club. We're a friendly group of 3200 people, and we welcome any and all to attend our rallies and join the club. People who ride other brands of motorcycles often comment on how much they enjoy attending our rallies, and so we invite others to visit us at our various activities throughout the United States.
- Frank Wedge, Director MGNOC Comments to the Director