Motorcyclist Magazine: Ninety-Nine Years Old … And Counting | Cat Tales

By Brian Catterson

There’s a framed illustration on my office wall of Motorcyclist’s “1975 All-Star Winners.” Drawn by one William Stout, an artist famous for his work in Heavy Metal magazine among other achievements, it features caricatures of such racing luminaries as Giacomo Agostini, Kenny Roberts and Roger DeCoster.

I found this piece of lost treasure while we were moving from our old Los Angeles offices to our new digs in El Segundo. It was hidden in the back of a closet; dusty, slightly moldy from water damage and wearing a hideous orange frame with broken glass. Realizing its historical significance, I showed it to Art Director Joe Neric, who promptly had it restored and reframed.

Around that same time, I found a stash of large Motorcyclist patches that appear to date from the early ’80s. Seeing as how there were four patches, and four editors, I had them sewn onto the back of four Dickie’s jackets, with each editor’s name and an MC M.C. logo on the front—a fictitious, tongue-in-cheek club that has since become a section in the magazine. As we were literally moving furniture, we found two more patches—one in a bottom desk drawer, the other under a file cabinet—so I had two more jackets made for Neric and publisher Marty Estes.

Thing is, that’s all of the Motorcyclist memorabilia left at our offices. There’s nothing more—which is a real shame for a magazine about to celebrate its centennial.

Yes, you read that right: Motorcyclist will soon be 100 years old. Technically, that won’t happen until next July, but we’ve decided to celebrate all year. (As would you, if you were turning 100!) It’s a little premature to let the cat out of the bag, but suffice to say that all 12 of our 2012 issues will contain some content from the past century of motorcycling, and we’ll be hosting some very special events throughout the year.

But to do that, we’ll need your help.

First order of business is tracking down all the fine folks who have worked at Motorcyclist magazine over the years. We’ve kept in touch with many of them, and know where a few more are, but some editors emeritus have gone missing, and we’d like to reconnect with them—or, if they’ve passed, their families. No doubt some of their stories have been passed down through the generations. We’d like to hear those.

As important as the people who have graced the magazine’s pages are the machines. Literally thousands of motorcycles have been tested by Motorcyclist staffers, and some of those are still around. Do you know the whereabouts of an old project bike or documented testbike? Please let us know—or better yet, how about letting us ride it?

We also need help completing Motorcyclist’s archives. While we’ve got a fairly comprehensive collection of back issues in-house, we don’t have all of them; in some cases, all we’ve got are photocopies. Issues from the 1920s, in particular, are scarce. If you’ve got some of these old issues, or know someone who does, please tell us. You could literally help us make history.

Likewise, if you’ve got any Motorcyclist memorabilia—from promotional materials like decals, patches and banners to logoed hats, T-shirts and riding apparel—please send us a photo. We may want to buy or borrow it from you for an upcoming museum exhibit.

We’re also interested in your stories. Do you have a favorite Motorcyclist article—one that made you laugh, cry, or laugh until you cried? One that had a profound effect on your life? Maybe you’ve got an anecdote about meeting a staffer? Please share it with us. We know that many of you are long-time readers, but how long? Send us a photo of the mailing label on your oldest issue and we’ll reward our most faithful readers.

Motorcycles have only existed since 1885, so the fact that a motorcycle magazine has been around since 1912 is truly remarkable. We at Motorcyclist are proud of our heritage, and hope you share in that pride. We wouldn’t have made it to this milestone without you, and it wouldn’t be a party if you didn’t help us celebrate!

By Brian Catterson
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