As the old proverb says, "You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover!" So on our first approach to an outstanding castle on Long Island's East End, we tried to keep that in mind. When one sees a mansion of this magnitude it's difficult not to have those stereotypical visions of Bentleys and Rolls Royces flashing through the mind of a motor head. However, our thoughts were kept pure due to the fact we were escorted directly into the massive driveway by a small squadron of motorcycles - three to be exact, two Ducatis and one KTM. They were sent to meet us by Alan Wilzig, former banker with The Trust Company of New Jersey. Speed TV was there that same day to film and document time with Alan and his family and friends. MotoSavvy was also invited along to meet this true motorcycle enthusiast.
Alan and the Wilzig name have a long history with The Trust Company of New Jersey. In 1969, Alan's father, Siggi Wilzig, a Holocaust survivor, became a director of the Bank. With a fortune previously earned with a strong work ethic and rising through the ranks in the Wilshire oil company of Texas, he invested in the trust company and in 1970 became the chairman. In the late 1980's, both his sons, Alan and Ivan had come on board. By the time of Siggi's retirement in 2002, the bank had expanded to 75 branches in New Jersey. He stayed on as chairman until his death in 2003. In May 2004, North Fork Bancorp of Long Island, NY, paid a substantial sum of money to complete the acquisition of The Trust Company of New Jersey.
Even as a young boy, Alan had his eye on motorcycles. Growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey, just 20 minutes from New York City and without anyone else in the family interested in motorcycling, Alan's chances to get his first bike seemed slim.
Alan's dad, Siggi, who knew the meaning of hope, shared his own dream with his son and often spoke about the possibilities of buying a farm in Pennsylvania. When Alan speaks of his father now it's easy to sense his admiration and pride. And Alan was certainly raised to be an optimist. If Siggi was trying to encourage while protecting his son, it worked. Alan kept his positive outlook and desire to ride, and as a teenager his dream came true when a high school friend shared his Yamaha YZ80 and a rural environment in Western New Jersey. This friend was the enabler, but most significantly, he also shared his riding experience and knowledge, as an instructor. After graduating college, they spent vacation time, adventure touring in Europe. Eventually, Alan bought his first motorcycle, a 1990 Suzuki DR350S, dual-purpose bike.
As you can tell by looking at Alan's garage today, that passion remains as strong as ever. His collection of bikes ranges from an old 1953 Moto Guzzi he affectionately calls "the little Red Bike" to an array of Ducati Sportbikes and adventure bikes by the Austrian Company KTM. The walls and ceilings are covered with colorful helmets, racing suits and motorcycle parts and paraphernalia. But it's far from just a showplace for his hobby. It's the gathering place where Alan, his wife Karin, and close family and friends lounge and chat about life and motorcycling.
As I gazed in admiration around the garage, I felt the very slightest breeze blow through the open doorways. In that warm summer air there was a wonderful hint of the Peconic Bay. The scent reminded me that I was in close proximity to the old Bridgehampton Race Circuit. And while listening to Alan's enthusiasm as he spoke of motorcycling, I couldn't help thinking that if a guy like this had owned that old racetrack, it would still be there today.
The garage is Alan & Co.'s hangout, but on this hot and humid day, as on most summer days in the Hamptons, their passion for being on the road takes over. Even with all of the gorgeous landscaped property around the castle and a very enticing pool at its side, Alan's true backyard is the local twisty roads that he knows so well. Like most motorcyclists, he knows no boundaries. The world is his playground. "Even visiting your mother-in-law can be fun!" he says. She lives in the south of Spain. And like Alan's wife, born in Belgium, she encourages and supports his passion for motorcycling. According to Alan, Spain is motorcycling heaven!
Alan and Karin are expecting their first child, a son, to be named Siggi. And they recently purchased roughly 300 acres in upstate New York, where their family and friends will ride - a place where a father's and son's dreams both come true.