L.R. "Hap" Alzina spent 56 years devoting himself to motorcycling. Involved in motorcycling from its infancy, Alzina is best known for being the western states distributor for Indian and, later, BSA. He oversaw the sales of those brands during the height of their popularity. Alzina -- who earned the nickname "Hap" from his good-natured attitude -- also sponsored many of the top AMA professional racers.
Born on September 14, 1894, Alzina's interest in motorcycling began early in life. As a boy he bought his first motorcycle, a Reading-Standard, for $50. In 1909, Alzina's family moved from Santa Cruz, California, to San Francisco. There, he bought his first Indian from C.C. Hopkins, who was the Indian distributor for Northern California at the time. Alzina later became a mechanic in Hopkins' shop and in 1911 became the service manager.
In the early 1910s, racing was becoming increasing popular and Alzina tried his hand in competition. He did some flat-track racing, but his primary interest was endurance runs. Alzina raced in many of the early desert city-to-city runs that were popular at the time. In 1919, Alzina edged well known racers Wells Bennett and Cannonball Baker to win the prestigious San Francisco Motorcycle Club Two-Day Endurance Run.
In 1916, Alzina opened his own dealership, selling Reading-Standard and Cleveland motorcycles. That enterprise was short-lived due to the onset on World War I. After closing his shop, Alzina again worked as sales manager for San Francisco's Indian distributor. In 1922, Alzina saw a golden opportunity across the Bay in Oakland and bought out the dealership of E.S. Rose. Alzina turned the struggling francise into a very succesful business.
Alzina's business expertise was recognized by Indian. In 1925, the company assigned him all of Northern California's distribution. The next year, he was given the entire state, and by 1927 his territory expanded to include Nevada, Arizona and Washington. By 1948, Indian sales in Alzina's territory represented over 20 percent of Indian's total worldwide volume.
During the late 1940s, Alzina did all he could to keep struggling Indian afloat. At one point, he was shipping parts stock back to the manufacturing plant in Springfield, Massachusetts, just so Indian could fullfill police and dealer orders. Another time, he rushed along a huge pre-payment on a future order so the factory could meet its payroll. Despite the valiant efforts of Alzina and many others, Indian was destined to cease manufacturing.
At the age of 54, Alzina moved on to another business venture and bought the western states distibution rights for BSA motorcycles from Alf "Rich" Child in 1949. The growth in motorcycling over the next 15 years was explosive. Under Alzina's direction, BSA's western distribution went from three dealerships to almost 250 in 19 states.
Alzina was an enthusiastic supporter of racing. Many racing stars such as Ed Kretz, Gene Thiessen, Al Gunter, Dick Mann, Kenny Eggers and Sammy Tanner credited Alzina for being a big part of their success.
Famous for his practical jokes, Alzina once walked a horse through a plush New York hotel lobby, pushing the horse into an elevator and taking him up to a room where a party was going on. He also enjoyed marking "Private & Confidential" on the address side of post cards so that everyone would be sure to read the card.
Alzina retired in 1965. He and his wife, Lillian, enjoyed traveling together, visiting friends across the country during their retirement years. He was given an Award of Merit from the AMA on behalf of its then 70,000 members upon his retirement.
Alzina died on July 21, 1970 at the age of 75. He will always be remembered as a man of integrity, honesty, loyalty, foresight, common sense and hard work.