It didn’t take long to say yes after receiving a personal invitation to coach at the world’s only privately owned, personal racetrack
Story by Misti Hurst
When Alan Wilzig’s girlfriend, Clemence, wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle, he posted on his Facebook page, “Time to get resident fast girl Misti Hurst out to coach Clem.” I nearly fell off my chair. It’s not every day you get an invite to fly to New York state to coach on a privately owned racetrack. I couldn’t type y-e-s fast enough.
With a date set for mid-September, I began researching more about Wilzig’s property.
Wilzig Racing Manor is the only privately owned, personal-use grand prix-style road racing facility in the world, according to his website, alanmoto.com. Completed in 2011 at a cost of $7.5 million, the track is 1.8 km long and 12.2 metres wide, and boasts nine turns winding through more than 24 metres of elevation change. Included is a 20-degree banked turn, suggested by moto guru Keith Code, who helped design aspects of the unique circuit.
“Do you have a bike preference?” Wilzig, former CEO, president and chairman of the Trust Company of New Jersey, asked. “I have a GSXR 600, unless you want to ride the KTM 390?”
“I’ll try the 390.” I said, happy to just ride the exclusive track. I would have ridden anything.
From Zero to Racer
I could hardly contain my excitement as I flew from Vancouver to Newark, New Jersey, then to Albany, N.Y. Peter Huber, Wilzig Racing Manor’s general manager and director of motorsports, picked me up at the airport, and as we drove through the gorgeous countryside, we talked motorcycle riding, technique, track days, racing and coaching. He filled me in on how he had handled Clemence’s novice training, bringing her from zero (not having ever ridden a bike in her life) to being able to competently get around the track.
What a way to begin your riding career, I thought. Being taught by your own California Superbike School coach on an empty, private racetrack in your backyard.
Turning off the main road onto Wilzig’s street, I could never have imagined what was to come. At the end of the dirt road was a large electronic gate. The gate opened to reveal a paved driveway leading up to a modest-looking light yellow farmhouse. The house fit perfectly into the surrounding green countryside, with just a Yamaha YXZ1000R and a Polaris RZR1000 hinting at what lavish toys might be lurking around the property.
I was expecting a huge, modern mansion to be towering over the facility; after all, Wilzig does drive his bright green McLaren, painted like the Incredible Hulk, into the small town of Craryville to get his groceries. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 100-year-old-plus farmhouse was considered their main “weekend” residence. Dubbed the “yellow house,” it was gorgeous, with stunning, refinished original hardwood floors, a subtle outdoor pool that blended into the surrounding wooden deck, and luscious greenery outside every window. To one side was a 15-acre shimmering blue lake lined with personal watercraft and other water toys for warm-weather days. Sitting lakeside was the “other house,” a large, beautiful barn with high ceilings, rustic wooden beams, large windows, dark floors, and an open and very natural decor with ropes, wood and minimalist styling. The view was spectacular, and peaceful.
To the other side of the yellow house, perched on the hilltop, I got my first glimpse of the outer edges of the racetrack. Imagine a racetrack outside your window! I felt envy creeping in and couldn’t wait to try it the following morning.
A Memorable Experience
Suddenly the door to the yellow house swung open, and in a jumble of energy, Wilzig invited me in. He gave me a big hug, poured me a glass of juice and began searing some meat on the stove. In a blur of steam, hand gestures and the chaotic pouring of ingredients,
he chatted enthusiastically about all manner of subjects.
“Extraordinarily,” he reminded me, “in 2006, my sixth year on a sport bike, it was in fact you, Misti, who helped me get my knee down for the first time!”
I knew I had been his coach at one of the California Superbike Schools, but had forgotten the exact details. “It was Barber Motorsports Park,” he said. “You helped refine everything about my track riding!”
Wildly, he placed several slices of piping hot tender beef on the plate and continued to bounce around the kitchen, talking until Clem came downstairs. We chatted for a few more hours until it was time for bed.
I was up early the next morning, but there was not a trace of anyone else, so I made some coffee and sat on the front porch, watching the mist roll by on the lakefront. I listened to the silence and daydreamed about having my own gazillion bucks and all my own high-speed moto toys.
A Guy’s Gotta Have Toys
After a while of waiting, I sent Huber a text, and suddenly he was at the door and we were off to see the museum. Directly across from the yellow house was a large, modern building that also blended seamlessly into the landscape. As soon as we walked in and passed the multi-bay service area, I apologized for acting like a star-struck tourist and pulled out my camera to snap shots of the dozens of motorcycles and cars that lined the immaculate halls.
Wilzig has more than 100 cars, motorcycles, off-road vehicles and karts in his arsenal, including a terrific Ducati collection of 20 from a 1974 750 Sport (winner of the 2008 National Ducati Superbike Concorso), all the way through to a 2008 Paul Smart replica.
Wilzig’s own creation, the 2003 Ducati / MV Agusta Faberge Egg bike, combines what he considers the very best looks and mechanicals of the
illustrious career of Massimo Tamburini, “One of the three founders of Bimota, as well as a legend!” he told me.
The oldest bike he owns is a 1946 Motom: “The only motorbike with pedals in my collection!” he said with a laugh.
He still owns the very first bike he ever purchased, a Suzuki DR350, and every bike since then (a Suzuki Bandit 400 and so on and so on …).
As for his newest bikes, they are the pair of 2013 GSXR 600s that Wilzig takes great pride in, having been awarded them in light of both his unbridled enthusiasm and his more than 25-year as a Suzuki owner.
Wilzig also owns what he touts as “The biggest and best Bimota collection in the U.S., including the 1975 SB1 (first Bimota ever), unti…