CRCA and Hincapie Sportswear join forces to honor cycling legend Fred Mengoni.
It’s the classic American success story that we never get tired of hearing: A man moves to the United States with nothing but a dream in his head and a few dollars in his pocket. Out of that few dollars a fortune is born—not easily, of course, but with great dedication and grit, overcoming obstacles that seem insurmountable at the time, but that teach the man great lessons about believing in himself and never giving up.
The cycling world version of this story is Fred Mengoni. Mengoni grew up in Osimo, Italy, where he was an instrument-maker. After watching Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Mengoni decided he wanted to see New York in person, so he visited some friends there … and he never left.
Mengoni eventually got a job as an instrument repairman, saving up enough money to invest in the stock market. His luck didn’t prove good there, as he lost much of his investments when the market fell, but he didn’t give up; he took the rest of his savings ($8,000 at the time), and decided to invest it in real estate. There, he found much more success.
But Mengoni soon learned that more work didn’t just translate to more money; it almost meant more stress. Looking to relieve some of that unwanted energy, Mengoni picked up a pastime he had since left behind in Italy: cycling. And as he began every morning with a 30k ride through Central Park, he remembered why he used to relish racing as a teenager. Soon after he founded his own elite racing club, which flourished in the 1980s. Mengoni then provided funding to purchase the UCI affiliation for US pro cycling, co-founding USPRO in 1985 and becoming the President for a few years before it merged with USCF, now under USA Cycling.
It was right after this, when Mengoni returned to his elite cycling club, that he met young George and Rich Hincapie. Through Mengoni’s guidance and mentorship, George grew to be a talented racer, participating in the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona before going pro with the Motorola Team alongside Lance Armstrong.
“Cycling is an expensive sport,” says Rich Hincapie. “Fred Mengoni was critical in our development, as his support allowed us to have better equipment and participate in bigger races. Fred’s mentorship really helped George to develop as a world-class cyclist.”
To honor Mengoni’s legacy, the Hincapie brothers joined forces with the Century Road Club Association (CRCA) to hold a race in his honor. Called the CRCA Hincapie Grand Prix in Honor of Fred Mengoni, the race runs through Central Park where Mengoni used to go on his early morning rides.
“The Mengoni Grand Prix is the CRCAs longest running race,” explains Jeff Young, a member of the board of CRCA. “This is one of three open races we hold in Central Park, so it’s a longer race that offers more categories than races in our CRCA club series. We’re thrilled that the race has been extremely successful, attracting cyclists from all over the region to compete.”
“I’m thrilled that the Mengoni Grand Prix has been so successful,” says George Hincapie. “It’s my hope that this race can play a small part in furthering the sport of cycling and Mengoni’s legacy. He did so much for us; the least we can do is pay it forward.”