DALE WYLIE 1949-2022
20 September 2022
By Michael Esdaile
Former New Zealand champion Dale Wylie died at his home in Christchurch on March 21, after a long illness. He had an perable brain tumour.
Dale Wylie was a man of many talents. In his youth he raced as passenger on a speedway sidecar and made a decent enough impression in road-racing to earn a ride on a Lyster G50 Matchless owned by Christchurch furniture store owner Bob Harris.
Results on the Lyster Matchless earned him a ride on Suzukis provided by the then New Zealand importer Percy Coleman Wholesale of Wanganui through enthusiastic Christchurch dealer Tommy McCleary.
At that time Wylie was part of a Suzuki racing operation that included the late great Geoff Perry and in the summer, US domiciled Englishman Ron Grant and Napier’s Keith Turner.
In addition to racing a T500 Titan in Production events, Dale had TR500s (racing machines based on the production two-stroke twin) prepared by famed Wellington tuner Dick Lawton. This saw him win the 1970-71 New alongside a young Dave Hiscock. There were more than a few entrants on Kawasaki’s
then blazingly fast H2 750cc triple who were embarrassed by these two men on the out-of-date push-rod OHV British twins.
Wylie was a regular entrant in the then highly lucrative South-East Asian races — Indonesia’s grand Prix and the Singapore, Selangor and Penang GPs. In 1973 he also campaigned the Suzuki in England before returning to New Zealand in time to win the New Zealand Open TT. After that he went on to win the inaugural Marlboro International Series in the summer of 1973-74, leading home the Yamahas of Trevor Discombe (TZ350A) and John Boote (Yamaha TZ750A).
He was the only New Zealander to win this series over the five consecutive summers it was run.
In 1974 he and fellow Christchurch man Mike Sinclair went to the USA where Dale brought a Yamaha TZ750 to race in AMA Nationals and as many other events he could afford on his legendary $1-a-day budget, paying particular attention to the handful of big money events where a top 10 finish was still a lucrative payday. In so doing he managed to get enough budget to contest the Singapore GP mid-season, a race he had won in 1973 on the Suzuki TR500.
The trip to Singapore became legendary. From Montreal in Canada, to London, and then around the world to Singapore — with the engine, brakes and as many other parts that would fit, squeezed into their carry-on luggage, with the frame and exhaust pipes boxed up and sent as check-in luggage.
He finished second to another Christchurch racer, John Boote, then returned to the USA, the same way he had gone out.
“Dale was frugal and his motto was ‘get it for free and never pay to get in’, recalls Mike Sinclair. “He became this way as a result of being a pro rider as early as 1970 — in New Zealand! That was quite an achievement. When racing is the only form of income, frugality is essential — and he was a master.”
After a season in the USA, Wylie returned to New Zealand and was leading the second of the Marlboro International Series before injury ended his career. Here he is on the Coppertone sponsored Yamaha TZ750 getting stuck into it at the Bay Park Marlboro round. Right: Dale was always passionate about windsurfing
RETURN TO NZ
After the US season was over, Wylie and Sinclair returned to New Zealand and Dale raced the Yamaha 750 in the second Marlboro International Series. After the North Island round he was leading on points but crashed a TZ250 in practice at Timaru’s Levels circuit, badly damaging his right arm.
His racing days were over, so he took up wind-surfing, which was to remain a passion the rest of his life. He also wanted to go flying, so gained his pilot’s licence and then trained on helicopters before working in the venison recovery industry on the West Coast of the South Island.
In 1981 he started a freight tie-down manufacturing operation, Aero Fast Tie Downs. The name was related to the next phase of his life — aviation. He wanted to get his commercial pilot’s licence as fast as possible. When he did, he and his then girlfriend, later wife Maxine, travelled. He flew for small airlines in Vanuatu, Fiji, the Caribbean, and Kenya. Many adventures ensued.
He had sold Aero Fast Tie Downs by then. Returning to New Zealand with Maxine to raise a family, he started another tie-down business, continuing until recently, when it too was sold to Aero Fast.
‘A MOTORBIKE IS FREEDOM’
Dale has sailed yachts, but his passion has always been windsurfing, and in the last couple of years he discovered a new challenge, foil-boarding on Lyttelton Harbour.
He was a devoted family man and raised his sons with the same passion and 100 per cent focus he gave to everything he did, teaching them to sail and then supporting them in competitive sailing for many years.
“Although Dale no longer followed competitive motorcycling after his accident, he always rode bikes for transport and leisure,” says Maxine. “His priority on arrival at any new country would be to buy/hire a motorbike to go exploring — ‘a motorbike is freedom’ he would say.
“Dale was a clever, determined, passionate individual, very generous and always helping people. He had a good life.”
Former New Zealand 350 Champion Mike Vinsen also shared some memories:
“I crashed and sprained an ankle at Levels one year. I was staying with Dale and his mum in Christchurch and he drove me all over town until he found a physiotherapist who would treat me so I was able to race at Ruapuna the next weekend. He was very generous.
“Dale was definitely one of life’s more unusual characters. As well as making tie-downs and owning the business, he was also the sales rep.
He used to call into our Auckland shop — it was like a mini tornado coming in... always with his trademark grin.
“When I started racing I thought he was so fast that it would be impossible to emulate him. He was also willing to talk, give advice and his riding spoke for itself. He was a can-do guy. There was nothing he believed he couldn’t do. Sometimes that pissed some people off, but it’s certainly a reminder of a different time in racing, thinking about him.”
Sister Patricia adds, “Even as a little boy he achieved whatever he set out to do. Nothing would hold him back. A life well lived.”
Dale is survived by Maxine, his wife of 35 years, children Daniel (27) and Mathew (23), sisters Patricia (Taupo), Kathy (Coromandel) and brothers Barry (Australia) and Brent (Woodend).
Article kindly brought to you by Kiwirider
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