An expat’s finest hour

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Racing in the AFM, he won the 500cc class championship with his Manx in 1968 and the 1970 750cc Production title on a Commando. Then, when a Santa Barbara Suzuki dealer added BMW, Reg was asked what he thought about riding a German motorcycle.

Reg was cool to the idea at first. The new “slash 5” Beemer didn’t interest him much—until he got a call from Helmut Kern of New Jersey’s Butler & Smith, then U.S. importers and distributors of BMW motorcycles.

Kern told Reg they’d been watching him, and “to tell the truth” were having trouble selling the latest /5s. To boost customer awareness of these new 1970 models, now upgraded with a 12-volt electrical system and electric starter along with non-metallic fenders and other lightweight body parts, Kern was hoping Reg would agree to race it.

“It can be done,” he recalls telling Kern, “but not without discussing it, and seeing that you are willing to bend to things that need to be done, that would suit me, to make me win.”

After three private test sessions with the latest BMW R75/5, Reg started riding the 750cc opposed-twin in local California races.

“A Beemer?” watchers and other riders asked? “With those cylinders sticking out the sides?”

Yes, a BMW.

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