The Yonkers Motorcycle Club originally started as the Yonkers Bicycle Club, which was founded by Elliott Mason on Nov 19, 1879. The club consisted of 25 men, who wore a greyish brown corduroy uniform with a polo cap bearing the clubs initials, and the club colors were of crimson and gold.
Elliott Mason was a “Columbia” bicycle agent in Yonkers, who went to work as a general manger for the Pope Manufacturing Company at 12 Warren Street, establishing the oldest cycle depot in New York City. Over the years, he became one of Colonel Albert Augustus Pope’s most loyal and trusted companions.
Photo Credit: Alaine & Ashely Mason
Elliot Mason was also one of the founders of the League of American Wheelmen, created in Newport, Rhode Island on May 30, 1880. One hundred fifty bicyclists from 32 different clubs came to Newport, where they officially formed the organization, and wrote and ratified its constitution the next day. Their mission, as stated in the constitution, was “to promote the general interests of bicycling, to ascertain, defend and protect the rights of wheelmen, and encourage and facilitate touring.”
By 1899, the League of American Wheelmen was comprised of over 800 bicycle clubs. The Yonkers Bicycle Club was the 29th bicycle club to be formed in the United States, the 10th bicycle club to join the League of American Wheelmen, and the first to join in N.Y. State. The club’s legacy of hill climbing contests, lantern runs, historic relay races, endurance races and endurance records, set both in the United States and abroad will remain a staple of early bicycling history. During the early part of the 1900’s motor bicycles were being manufactured and several members of the Yonkers Bicycle Club looked to form the Yonkers Motorcycle Club.
Photo credit Smithsonian Institute
The Yonkers Motorcycle Club was founded by George A. Ellis, a member of the Yonkers Bicycle Club in March 1903, which consisted of 23 men. Keeping with their Yonkers bicycle traditions, elections were held, and George Ellis became Yonkers Motorcycle Clubs first President. The club quickly established its first endurance run in late March 1903, well before The Motorcycle club de France organized a race called the International Cup in Dordom on September 25 1904, and before the formation of the F.I.M. (Federation of International Motorcyclists) on Dec 21, 1904. The clubs first endurance run was a trip from Yonkers to Coney Island and return, a distance of 67 miles. Owning to the uncertain conditions, only about a dozen members participated in the event. No mishaps were reported and the roads were in good condition.
Photo credit: Motorcycle Illustrated Volume 18 November 30th 1922
Under the leadership of its spirited President, the club quickly began to set historic records that would inspire motorcyclists for years to come. In 1913, Ellis established the first 24-hour mileage record, and a time record from Boston to Chicago, the latter of which he broke the succeeding year. On January 1, 1917, New York State F.A.M. Commissioner George Ellis promoted the first Midnight Run under the auspices of the Crotona Motorcycle Club. The first Midnight Run consisted of 30 motorcyclists competing in a 150-mile endurance run that started from Columbus Circle to Poughkeepsie and return. In 1920 he established the “Two Flag Record” from the U.S. to Canada. In 1926 he won the Gold Medal Award for the National Six Day Trials. Ellis also took on the role of motorcycle courier from Governor Cox of Massachusetts to Calvin Coolidge, following Coolidge’s election to the Vice Presidency.
The Yonkers Motorcycle Club was among the first motorcycle clubs to affiliate with the American Motorcycle Association when the Association was formed in 1924. Numbers were put into a hat, passed around and drawn at the first official meeting of the AMA; Yonkers drew card 6, hence charter number 6. Our brothers at Reading Motorcycle Club drew card 4, hence their low charter number 4.
After George Ellis organized and sponsored the first motorcycle polo team in the United States called the Quaker Polo Club, a Yonkers team was formed. The Yonkers Motorcycle Club created a motorcycle polo team in the late 1920's, becoming one of the best classed motorcycle polo clubs in the North East. Ten men would advance the field on motorcycles weighing more than a quarter of a ton, half trying to kick the ball one way, while the other half tried to inflict maximum carnage on their opponent as they raced about the field. Scarcely a minute went by, in a typical motor polo game, without an exciting spill or interesting tangle.
Photo Credit: Detroit Free Press - 9/8/1928
The Yonkers Motorcycle club created the Yonkers Turkey Run in November 1928 and its success continued to dominate the sport for the next three decades. The annual Turkey Run had been honored with the North Eastern Championship for several consecutive years since its inception. Alternating between hard, cold riding on the roads into the woods, over rocky hills and across creeks with washed out roads and swamps, this enduro-style contest tested the limits of even the most experienced rider.
Photo credit CYCLE magazine February 1951
Jack Tracey, a life-long member and President of the Yonkers Motorcycle Club, took over the Harley Davidson store on 286 South Broadway in Yonkers in 1936 and soon established it as headquarters for the club. It quickly became a staple of the community that helped solidify the future racing careers of club legends like Eugene Baron, Leo Sullivan, Richard Blake, and Tom Svack. The Yonkers Motorcycle Club continued its success of enduro-style and flat track racing in competitions all over the United States, including Daytona, St. Augustine, Laconia and the famous 500 mile National Jack Pine Endurance run in Michigan right up till the mid-1960’s, sponsoring motorcycle scrambles at Snow Valley in Fishkill, N.Y. Many of these same racing legends volunteered their services to the city of Yonkers during World War II, making Yonkers Motorcycle Club the second motorcycle club in the Unites States to organize a Civil Defense Unit.
Photo credit John Tracey
The Yonkers Motorcycle Club was officially incorporated within New York State on October 3, 1952 and today operates as a 501 c 3 public charity, giving back to many organizations within the Yonkers community. On June 11th 2019, the United States Patent and Trademark Office recognized and registered Yonkers Motorcycle Club as the Oldest Motorcycle Club In The World.
In most recent years, the club has been involved with giving back to great organizations like My Sister’s Place, The Richmond Center, St. Elizabeth’s Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, The Heart Foundation, and Wounded Warriors, just to name a few. The club currently sponsors an annual AMA-sanctioned Road Run; other events include an annual Toy drive, Chili Party, and a Spring Break Out Run. It still keeps links to the past with numerous, motorcycle plaques, trophies, banners and bicycle memorabilia dating back to the late 1800’s, including a classic 1913 Pope motorcycle.
K.M. "Thee Historian"