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Name: Richard Wyler (born Richard Stapley)
Birth date: 20.June 1923 
Birth Place: Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex England 
Date of Death : 5th March 2010 (Age: 86) 
Place of Death : Palm Springs, California, USA 
Nationality: English (naturalised American) 
Gender: male 
Actor, Author, Motorcycles Racer..
Research: Motorcycle Magazines
On-Line encyclopedias
News Paper Cuttings
Scrap Books/ Submissions
Jeep's Archives
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Excerpts from 'The Independent' newspaper. (with some additions by Jeep)
Richard Stapley belonged to a generation of movie actors who plied their trade during the halcyon days of Hollywood – when stars were great and dalliances were discreet. Although predominantly an actor, he had polymath qualities ranging from writer and motorcycle racer to courier.

His beginnings were far removed from the glamorous world of Hollywood. Born on 20 June 1923 in Westcliffe-on-Sea, Essex,he was the son of a bank manager. He grew up in Brighton and from an early agefell in love with the silver screen. Stapley attended Varndean College in Brighton; one of his contemporaries there was Paul Scofield, with whom he remained friends
After serving in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, Stapley got into repertory theatre and decided at an early age that if he was going to make it in movies he would have to go to the USA. Slim, charming, and graced with diamond blue eyes and a deep, educated English accent, Wyler (Stapley) soon caught the eye of the movie-makers and a number of actresses as well.
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If acting was a love, motorcycles were Wyler's passion and it is no surprise that he counted among his friends the stunt rider from The Great Escape responsible for the death-defying jump made by Steve McQueen.
Wyler himself took part in many motorcycle stunts, although one went horrendously wrong and he severely broke his leg – but determined to ride again, he made an ultra-quick recovery.
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Steve McQueen on the Triumph used in The Great Escape
Wyler rode motorcycles in professional races, including dices with the likes of Mike Hailwood. He wrote a regular column for Motor Cycling magazine, 'Richard Wyler's Coffee Bar Column', recounting tales of his acting exploits or thrills on the race track. 

He received praise from the Metropolitan Police for dissuading young motorcyclists at the famous Ace Café on London's North Circular Road from indulging in the potentially lethal dare of "dropping the coin right into the slot"and racing to a given point and back before the record on the jukebox finished. Wyler also supported the christian aspects of the 59 Club having been brought up in that manner.
The goal of many 'Rockers' was to be able to reach 100 miles per hour (called simply "the ton") along such a route where the rider would leave from a cafe, race to a predetermined point and back to the cafe before a single song could play on the jukebox, called record-racing. A classic example of this was to race from the Ace Cafe on The North Circular road in NW London to the Hanger Lane junction as it then was, it is now the more famous Hanger Lane Gyratory System - and back again. The aim was to get back to the Ace Cafe before the record on the jukebox had finished. The ACE did lose some friends on "Murder Mile". They are remembered as being especially fond of Rockabilly music and their image is now embedded in today's rockabilly culture. I, Jeep, was one of these guys and it was here that I first met Dick Wyler.

                                                                        Click to enter the ACE site.
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During the 1960s he also opened one of the first coffee bars near Streatham Ice Rink in south London. Richard also had his own dispatch riders company in London and used his race-track experience on one occasion to get a very important package from central London to Northolt Airfield through heavy traffic in about 30 minutes.
As I said I first remember meeting Richard Wyler back in 1959/ 60 at the ACE. He was a consummate speaker and would chat with any of the people there. I also remember him before that when a TV program"The Man from Interpol" was showing. The show was produced in the UK in 1958/59. It was only in 1961 that I met with him again at a Chiltern 50 Snetterton Enduro to find out how much he still loved his motorbikes. I was only a spectator but the story below is penned by Richard, with some bits added from my memories of the day, which I hope gives you a feeling of excitement that the race gave us, the followers of the "50's" It covers more than just the Enduro as I think it will interest you all.
Film and TV actor, Richard tells how he started the 1961 season. (based on an article for the Motorcycle)
It’s 6 a.m., Good Friday—theyear, 1961. I am amused that after a late night  I find myself impatiently ready to get up at such an early hour with wide-open eyes and a tingle of excitement.  I strain my head out of the window to see a healthy promise in the sky.  I certainly don't do this on normal days. I might have to do it for an early call when I'm filming, but I don't relish it. However, this is different. It's England -and it's the beginning of a new racing season.
How different the paddock at Brands looks in the early morning on race day from the comparative quiet of a practice day. The machines' insistent, excited heart-beats become synchronised with the humans’ and the deafening noise echoes around the Kent countryside like all hell is going to break loose.  I wish I were riding. Or do I? This warm-up is the awful hour, and a couple of riders tell me they wish they were in my shoes — spectating.
Mike Hailwood, grinning good-naturedly, says "When are you going to have a go, chicken?"  The friendly old gang's all here, Fred Neville. Joe Dunphy. Phil Read, Bob Rowe. I'm on the other side of the fence today and it's my own autograph hook that's handy, with shy hellos to Minter, Hartle and Paddy Driver.
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It's a beautiful day and a massive crowd is pouring in. The practice, perhaps, has released some of those inner tensions, but the excitement has to build to gigantic proportions until that moment of truth, when the starter's flag drops. We hope no one we know will be in danger, but there is nothing that can ever give us a guarantee on this point.
The flag drops! Good starts, bad starts, win, lose, who cares? You've never had it so good so the man says, if you're a motorcyclist you should thank your lucky, stars you’re where you are, for you've a heck of a lot to look forward to in 1961.
And so, I realise, have I. I already know I shall he riding in the Silverstone 1.000 km.; I've accepted an offer to ride in the 1961 Chiltern Enduro for 50cc. machines, Thruxton 500 looks definite, and I have hopes of a couple of Clubman's meetings.
I'm up at Silverstone to see the"Hutch." As I watch the guys heel over and streak round Copse, I figure it'll be six weeks and I’ll be doing it. It makes me feel a bit funny inside and I wonder what criticisms will be levelled at my cornering! Hoppy Hopkins. fellow American and racing buddy, is standing next to me. and I say to him that I don't want to watch another road race before I do one myself, If I do, I'll probably go chicken and cancel my entry,
The First of May is here and it's a week to the Chiltern Endure I'm to be entered by Duncan Mitchell of MW Concessionaires, and I'm to ride with Tony Dobson.  Our mount is to be a Royal Nord.
I've never even sat on a 50cc machine, and as the race draws nearer I send pathetic letters to Tony in Kettering asking him if he realizes that 6 ft. 1 in. has to be folded around a tiddler and what kind of a sadistic torturer is he? My thinly veiled pleas to be allowed to withdraw are methodically ignored. I call Teddy Comerford, who is entering me for the Thruxton '500' and tell him of my approaching ordeal. He invites me to lunch at the R.A.C. Club and instead of a steak he treats me to a couple of hours in the Turkish!!! I never will forget the sight of a member sitting stark naked in the steam room, reading 'The Times' and wearing a monocle! I stuck it out in the hottest steam room until I couldn't sweat any more. Never has a guy done so much in consideration of the burden the little machine has to carry.
Feeling a stone lighter, I set off for Norwich where I have been invited to stay overnight with friends before the race. The country has never looked more beautiful and I feel that its looking this way just because maybe I'll never see it again!  I have vivid mental pictures going through my mind of the pits and after and the bemused crowds watching me at the start. I run three short paces bump it and the bike collapses in front of the hysterical onlookers, is that how it's going to be!  It's getting dark as I pass the Snetterton circuit. I force myself to drive the car twice round the track which seems very bumpy. It looks as though it will rain, and it's also very windy I reckon if it's a 50 m.p.h headwind I'll lap at just about 2 m.p.h., then, on to Norwich.
I wake at 6 am., breakfast on one boiled egg and feel half-starved. By the time I reach the Paddock I feel pretty fine. In fact when I see the van arrive with the beautiful yellow Royal Nord I actually run to get it out quick. Result - I catch my foot in a pot-hole and fall flat on my face. Lucky, I think, I have my leathers on. Margaret Ward, secretary of 'Bemsee' is looking on with amusement and cracks "Is it a Le Mans start today?"
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By now, however, nothing can get me down hearted and I know I'm going to enjoy the day. I find that there is a way to fold myself around the machine. The bike really goes and it steers well. I lap in under four minutes. Only one change is needed from the four-speed box at the hairpin. By the time I've qualified; I'm raring to go.
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We split the times into 45 minute sessions. Were doing O.K., but our 60 plus mph. maximum isn't holding up to the almost incredible speeds of the premier Italian ITOMs and Motoms. By about the fourth lap of my first session I'm really beginning to enjoy myself. Then, fifth time into thehairpin, I change down to third only to find that there isn't a third gear anymore. I make the corner and as I open up I find I'm in neutral. Into the pits for a check.
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I am out again and going well but there is a problem and the engine is misfiring. I pull over as the bike splutters asthmatically. I do a fast plug change. To my bitter disappointment I find that the gear leaver won’t budge. I bump it and crawl away in top.
My charming pit friends signal me to walk the bike round the 2.71 mile circuit. I start to walk up the gradient, think to hell with it, manage to find top gear again, bump it – and we're of at about 10 mph, until the right hander and level ground is reached. Soon we're at peak revs and sailing along fine. Next time round it's thumbs up, and stays that way until I bring it in for the change over. The gear selector inside had been sheared, we learn, and as no spares had arrived before the race we decided to continue with the one gear.
I’m so "with it" that I can't wait for Tony to finish his session. It's now I remember that I should be suffering from cramp and I have none. I managed to break the monotony of those comparatively slow, seemingly unending circuits. The upgrade to the pits becomes a mountain, and one really has to nurse the gallant little Royal Nord. But after the right-hander the bike streaks happily ahead. Then I enjoy the Esses and shortly after prepare for the climbs and cheerful familiar faces and thumbs-up from the pits. And so on till the end.
It was a wonderful day and what impressed me most was the genuine excitement it contained. These "50's" are something to be reckoned with, and I look forward to the next race with anticipation.
As I drove home to London, I realised that my next “Enduro” would be about 370 miles longer and I'd be coping with 600 additional c.c.s!
My preparations for the Silverstone 1,000km. race began on May 9th when I went up to the Triumph factory. Neale Shilton, General Sales Manager, had been kind enough to offer me the loan of a TR6 so that I could get a day's practice at Silverstone.  A week before the race I rode up to Theberton, Suffolk, to see Pat Keeble, who was entering Brian Denehy and myself.
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The day was perfect, and I realized just how much I missed my old “Bonneville." I hope I'll be able to take the “Silverstone Bonneville " back home after it's done its destined second race at Thruxton.  Pat Keeble has a very attractive showroom, filling station and café right in the heart of the beautiful Suffolk countryside. It was quite hot when I arrived at 10 a.m. and Pat's greeting was as warm as the sun.  He put me completely at ease about the race. “I don't care if you don't win," he said. “Just try to finish. Doesn't matter if you don't finish; don’t worry and don't hurt yourself. But if you do drop it, don't worry about that either." How nice can a guy be?  Mrs. Keeble had cooked a couple of pheasants for our lunch. It was one of the best meals I've ever tasted which was followed by a dash back to London on the TR6 and the comparative unrealities of an interview for a movie magazine!
On the Tuesday before race day I was up at Silverstone for practice. Fred Neville was kind enough to take me around and show me the right line, while Margaret Ward stood by with a stop-watch. Well, I thought I was going fast! I pulled in after 10 laps to find I wasn't even on the speed table! Neville and Alan Rutherford passed me once on Hangar Straight (top on the TR6 was about 105 m.p.h.) and I thought I'd follow them into Stowe Corner and that was nearly the end of Wyler! I jammed everything on and wobbled round with my heart in my mouth, feeling about 2 ft. tall!
Next time around I saw a bird (winged type) sitting on the track by Stowe. I guess he was laughing so much he couldn't fly. Anyway, he took off late and I sadly massacred him with my knuckles at over the ton. At least I was now on the table, and I thought that if I could do the actual race at a steady 75 m.p.h. with faster partner Brian Denehy, we might stand a chance of finishing fairly high.
I left for Silverstone at  lunch-time on Friday, as my Number 10 had a four-thirty p.m.  scrutineering date. By now the butterflies were breeding and I was asking myself why the hell did I enter?  The weather looked grey and threatening and I prayed very hard it wouldn't rain. The entrance flags hung limp in the oppressive overcast air.  Already the vans were rolling in. Helmets, bikes and clothing were scrutineered. I rode the “Bonneville" for the first time on the test straight. I wasn't prepared for the close-ratio box and it seemed an untamed stranger compared to the familiar "Trophy."
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Fred Neville asked me to join him and Bruce Daniels at some dance in Leicester but I wanted to hang around the bike for as long as possible and get an early bed.
Syd Lawton gave me a few helpful hints, and when the darkness fell I went back to the very attractive country pub where Joe Dunphy, Jim Russell, their mechanic and I were staying. After a couple of beers with Margaret Ward and chief marshal Dennis Bates, I went to bed and fell into a distinctly nervous sleep.  At six a.m. I was up, feeling like a condemned man as I climbed into my leathers. It was miserably Overcast as I drove to the circuit, and a few spots of rain fell during practice. All the old friends from every race meeting I'd gone to were there. Today was different, I was racing!
My practice laps were on the table, but not fast enough. But having at least qualified I was actually feeling relaxed and happy and anxious for my turn to come up at 11.30, for in this race we'd agreed to take 90 minutes each.
Wyler on the Bonneville
The Triumph TR6 Trophy
Dick Wyler taking on fuel at one of his stops.
Brian got a good Start and for the first few laps we lay about 15th. He was lapping at just over 80 m.p.h. Waiting an hour and a half is hell, but it dragged by. His sign was out to come in next lap, and I grabbed my helmet and gloves. I looked up to the crowd above the pits to see the Horton brothers, friends from scrambling events. "When do you go out?" they asked. “Next lap," I said. “Good " they chorused with wicked glee.
Here came Number 10. The bars were in my hands now, into gear, carefully through the chicane, fill up with Shell, look over the shoulder, goggles down, Copse Corner, and I'm on, on for what seemed like an interminable hour and a half.

Pit board signals came out - 2.28; 2.26; 2.24; 2.20. I was feeling at home and improving my lap times: 

I noticed the clock on Hangar Straight, over 120 mph. I never mastered Stowe as I would have liked, felt happier at Club, very happy full out at Abbey, and somewhat self-critical at Becketts. We were 12th when I took over and 13th when I gave it back. The only time I felt tired in the whole eight hours was when I handed over the bike for the first time. I felt like I couldn't stand, and I nearly dropped it!

The time off seemed to fly by. When I returned to the pits, a half-hour before I was due to take over again, Brian was in and there were too many parts lying around for my liking. The primary chain had gone and there was a gaping hole in the cover. Pat Keeble decided to call us in every 20minutes to smother the new chain in graphite oil.
It certainly broke up the next 90 minutes to see, every 20 of them, the sign No. 10—IN! We'd pull in as fast as possibleget a dose of oil and depart a couple of seconds later streaming like crazy. We were still quite high up, about 15 and the bike was going beautifully.
Other machines were really beginning to drop out but it looked like our luck would hold. Came 2 p.m., 3p.m. and then 3.30 and over once more to Brian.  At 15 minutes before 5 p.m. (it looked as though Daniels and Darvill would bring the B.M.W. in for a 5.40 win) I was ready for my last Stint: The sign was out for Brian to come in and I was set to take over.
His E.T.A. came and went and seconds later he crawled to a Stop on the wrong side of the straw bales! The new primary chain had gone and he had been unable to make it to the pit entrance. He was marshalled into the area by the refuelling bay. Pat seemed to think this was it for us. I offered to push the bike round, I might just have been able to do it by finishing time. But a helpful marshal informed us that Brian was allowed to replace the chain if he did it unaided.  Brian gallantly tore into that little job, and I take my hat off to him, because he must have been pretty tired by now.
By 5.15 he had finished, and I was off again on a bike covered with black oil. I held my breath for the balance of the race and that chequered flag was a fabulously welcome sight. In common with all the other “Bonneville’s " entered, we'd finished.  I felt so marvellous I think I could have gone on all night, and almost wished it had been a 24-hour endurance affair! I'd learned a lot, and I hope I'll be back next year to make good the mistakes I know l made.
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The performance of the bike was first rate with almost no vibration at any speed in any gear. The front brake never once had to be adjusted and was perfect at the end of the race.
Triumph Bonneville 1961 John Holder and Tony Godfrey Win the Production race
The meeting was a wonderfully well organized affair and next year I hope the trade will give it the support it deserves. For me, it was another highlight, and more proof that, without doubt motorcycle racing IS just about the finest sport going.  I hope I'll soon be in the Island, in the thick of the best of it!
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Richard Stapley, Richard Wyler or Dick Wyler, which ever and however you knew him, he was a great guy with a big heart but sadly no longer with us.
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Dick Wyler - Suited for action
The Royal Nord
Rockers Assembled at the ACE    Coffee or Pespsi - 1960
The ACE - 2010
Richard Wyler in one of his Film Roles
A Line-up at Brands Hatch including Mike Hailwood, Phil Read, Joe Dumphy Paddy Driver, John Hartle, Derek Minter
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Richard Wyler Presents Awards but first a Race on a 250 Greeves
Trophy Day Brands Hatch 1961 Photographs from Camera at Brands
Love of the Sport Trophy C. J. Huff
The 250cc Race Trophy B.T. Osborne 
125cc Race Win and Best Grenwich Rider N. L. Huntingford
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Dick Wyler No.46
Machine is now going well now, so I decide to do another lap and see if it'll hold up at least for my stint. Next time round, right in front of the pits it vibrates into neutral and I stop dead.
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