Post War Prosperity
Due to postwar growth in the NY metropolitan area the racing on the open roads with minimal safeguards became impossible. From the early days of the club’s founding to the 1940’s, open roads were used to stage races with club members marshaling. While searching for safe venues Otto Sr. and Jr. came upon the grounds of the pre-war World’s Fair in Queens to be unused and suitable. The City of New York was ﬁne with letting the club stage races on the grounds – and allowed them to do so without any fees. A set of lines were painted to create an oval track and this became the site of races including Amateur Bicycle League of America championships and Olympic Trials!
The 1950’s opened with Otto Eisele, Jr, taking the club championship in 1950, 51 and 53.
Reﬂecting the prosperity of the post war period the USI enjoyed a resurgence thanks to an inﬂux of young riders and continued guidance by the senior members of the club.
Special attention was paid to juniors known as “Midget” Racers with support from honorary member Anthony “Tino” DeAngelis who donated prizes to the club including the all around championship and junior sized race bikes.
Names in the roster of winners in 1957 included club champion Robert Frey, Alfred Patti, Jr, as USI Best All Round rider and De Angelis Trophy winner (Alfred also won the ABLA National Midget Class in 1956 and ‘57), and Nancy Burghardt, who won the Girls National Midget Class and was followed home by sister Liz in 3rd place. Albert Borghese won the 1955 ABLA Midget Class and was the winner at the ABLA Nationals in the Junior classiﬁcation in 1957. USI member from Buffalo, NY, Pat De Collibus won the 1957 ABLA Best All Round rider. Many of these young champions were second generation USI members.
In 1958 the USI celebrated its 50th anniversary as a healthy and vibrant premier club in United States cycling. It was active from the local racing scene to the national and international level. As Otto Eisele, Sr. decribed it, USI was one of America’s great cycling clubs.
What helped the USI be one of America’s great cycling clubs at its 50th anniversary was both the young riders coming into the sport and the fact that so many of the members who had joined the club in the teens and twenties had transitioned from competitors to administrators. These senior members included Teddy Bendi, Rocky Borghese, Anthony Fiore, Mickey Asarisi, and Anthony Attardi. Dick Power who was a frame builder in NY and allowed the club to use his shop for meetings helped a good deal as well.
The Unione Sportiva Italiana was a city based club. The United States was in transition to a suburban society. By the end of the 1950’s the USI core was moving north toward the suburbs and the transition of the club reﬂected that of the nation.