“I passed McLaughlin in Turn 8, what is now Turn 10,” he says, “and went around the outside of him. He got into the corner hotter than he could take it, and I got daring, too. No sooner did I pass him, Steve tossed it real bad, and the bike got completely inverted, a complete one-eighty. Somebody got a picture of that and put it in the Los Angeles Times.
“If you look at the picture, I was already through the turn, and Steve was still sliding on the track behind me. Yeah. So I’d passed him. But if you were to ask him that, he’d make like he only did it to let me get by, because other than that he had to run into me! He said he did it because he ‘didn’t want to run into Reggie.’
“The thing is,” Reg ribs, “he lives for that stuff as he gets older and older, and the stories get bigger and bigger.”
Finally came Riverside International Raceway, a demandingly swift circuit for the fourth and last Superbike Production battle of the ‘76 season.
Cook Neilson’s Ducati led from the start until mid-distance, when the BMWs got around it. Neilson retook the lead, but the Italian bike began casting oil, and Reg rode on to victory. Neilson held on for second, while McLaughlin and BMW’s other rider, Gary Fisher, scored third and fourth, respectively.
“The bike ran good at Riverside,” says Reg, “and I kind of just played with McLaughlin. He came up to me afterward and said, ‘That was a good race, but I don’t know how you do it!’ So I said, ‘Well, you’ll just have to learn to ride a little bit stronger.’ I used to play those mind games with McLaughlin.”
With his Riverside win, the 1976 Superbike series championship belonged to 37-year-old Reg Pridmore and the Butler & Smith R90S BMW.