Remembering ‘Dr. John’: John Wittner, Dentist Turned Moto Guzzi Engineer

Dr. John Wittner Moto Guzzi

Rider offers condolences to the family and friends of Dr. John Wittner, DMD, who passed away Feb. 15 in West Chester, Pennsylvania, at the age of 78.

John Wittner was originally known as “Dr. John” to the patients in his dentistry business; however, previous to graduating with his dentistry degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, he studied mechanical engineering at Lehigh University. He used these skills in his spare time from his dentistry practice to tinker with tuning Harley-Davidson engines for the purpose of road racing. In 1983, he purchased a Moto Guzzi Le Mans, which longtime motojournalist Alan Cathcart said in his book Dr. John’s Moto Guzzi was primarily because Wittner “thought it looked neat, and also had a pushrod motor like the Harley’s he was familiar with working on.”

Wittner had another motivation. “I bought the bike with the sole intent of forming a team of friends to go Endurance road racing with it,” he told Cathcart. “I had worked on and ridden a number of Guzzis, and knew they were extraordinarily reliable, the perfect weapon for Endurance competition.”

Thus was born Dr. John’s Guzzi racing team, which went on to win the 1984 U.S. Endurance Championship’s Middleweight class with a perfect 100% finishing record. In 1987, Dr. John’s Guzzi rider Doug Brauneck won the AMA Battle of the Twins championship on a Le Mans III developed by Wittner with the financial support of Alejandro de Tomaso. For the next decade, Wittner worked as an engineer for Moto Guzzi at the company’s factory in Mandello del Lario.

Dr. John Wittner Moto Guzzi Doug Brauneck
Doug Brauneck on Dr. John’s Moto Guzzi 8V

“Dr. John and I became friends during the mid-1980s,” Cathcart said, “when the bikes he created were raced successfully to three AMA National titles by the team he established to bring Moto Guzzi to the fore again in the USA. The saga of the former dentist and his various Dr. John’s Guzzi racers reawakened awareness of the historic Italian brand at a time 40 years ago in the late 1980s when its profile was at its all-time lowest ebb, even among dedicated enthusiasts of the marque.”

Cathcart was able to track test each of the bikes created by Wittner and decided approximately a year ago to write Dr. John’s Moto Guzzi to document Wittner’s achievements, “both as a dedicated engineer and an incredibly warm human being.”

Dr. John Wittner Moto Guzzi

The book is available at

John Wittner’s full obituary from Donohue Funeral Home is included below.

See all of Rider‘s Moto Guzzi coverage here

Dr. John Wittner Moto Guzzi

John A. Wittner

Oct. 27, 1945 – Feb. 15, 2024

A legendary innovator for Moto Guzzi and driving force in the motorcycle community, Dr. John A. Wittner, DMD, age 78, of West Chester, PA, passed away on February 15, 2024. He was the son of Howard Wittner and Victoria (Shenker) Wittner, and brother to Ken Wittner, who pre-deceased him. “Dr. John,” as known to friends, colleagues, patients, and members of the motorcycle community, was intensely dedicated to his craft, whether it was complex dentistry without pain — or mechanical innovation and next-level mastery in motorcycle engineering.

Studying mechanical engineering at Lehigh University (always with a love of fixing things), he applied his inherent talent and skills to help improve human performance, and graduated from University of Pennsylvania Dental School, as DMD, and was partner to Dr. Bill Deal, in Deal-Wittner Dental Health Group for many years. But for decades, he kept on building engines for motorcycle racing, channeling the magic into Moto Guzzis that won and won and won.

One day, he reached a turning point while working on a friend and patient in the dental chair – who encouraged him to take motorcycle racing from the local to the big time. And that’s how the legendary Dr. John’s Team Moto Guzzi was launched and went from an experienced, dominant group of regional racers to winning and dominating the 1984 AMA National Endurance Racing Championship at the Daytona Firecracker 400. And went on to design and engineer unique marques for Moto Guzzi in Italy, leaving an historic legacy for motorcycle racing.

Dr. John was a Vietnam veteran, loyal friend, and independent individual who always rose to a challenge and who’d rather be burning rubber than anything else.

Services and Interment are Private. 


  1. While in Philly on business I walked miles to visit his shop in philly as if it was a shrine. I think it was in the 90’s after reading M Pearson’s “The Perfect Vehicle.” He did deserve your edit.

  2. As a Nelson Ledges 24 Hour Endurance veteran, early 70s through early 80’s, endurance racing is the supreme challenge. No wonder Doctor John took it up as his passion and a way to form a great working team. But it’s rare to hear much about endurance racing any more other than four and six hour events. 24 hour races are the big test! Thanks for honoring John Wittner.

  3. I’ve read many stories and articles about Dr. John and to a certain extent I think his influence on Moto Guzzi and his intense interest in and effect on their racing ability and the effects that had to have on the men who designed and built there incredible machines. I think it led to the early work of Ghezzi-Brian that rpoduced with Moto Guzzi the MGS-01 that became the Griso. A bike I’ve ridden some 26,000+ miles on all over th Southeastern U.S.

  4. from JJ. Espo : I owned his. Moto Guzzi 2000 Pro-Type V11 Sport imported from Italy to Penn. GREAT BIKE – GREAT MAN. He will be missed.


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