If there was ever a person meant to be on the back of a motorcycle, it’s Tony Sanfelipo.
It’s not only that he is a passionate rider and advocate for motorcycle rights; it’s also that, for the past 25 years, he’s been an investigator at Hupy and Abraham.
“I started riding in 1964 and got my first motorcycle license when I was 19,” Sanfelipo said. “It really is in my blood. It was different when I started riding because there weren’t as many bikes on the road, but it really is about being a free spirit.”
Sanfelipo’s passion for all things related to motorcycles is the bedrock of his advocacy work. In the mid-1970s Sanfelipo helped found a group called A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments, also known as ABATE. The group’s main goal was to fight federal and state restrictions against motorcycling.
That was also about the time he connected with the Milwaukee attorney Michael Hupy. The biker had found himself a lawyer, and the lawyer had found a biker.
The former factory worker who wanted to help bikers and the law firm that wanted to protect injured bikers rights went on to form what some might consider the perfect partnership. But it took time.
“At first I wasn’t too crazy about joining up,” said Sanfelipo. “I had a great job and, if this didn’t work out, I could end up on the street.”
But after a summer of trying things out, the partnership stuck and Sanfelipo found his life’s calling.
Hupy and Abraham has now represented more than 4,000 bikers. Lawyers at the firm credit Sanfelipo for the bridge they were able to build to biking enthusiasts. A former EMT, Sanfelipo has also worked with Accident Scene Management Inc., teaching thousands of bikers the do’s and don’ts of what to do in an accident.
It’s likely that next spring, once Sanfelipo has turned 71, he will finally cut his working hours from full-time to “maybe half.”
All bikers have a nickname and Sanfelipo goes by “Pan,” in tribute to his original 1948 Harley kickstart Panhead motorcycle. Guys like Sanfelipo never really retire because there’s always one more road, one more biker who needs help, or one more law to fight.