An expat’s finest hour

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Decline to defend

With that victory, Butler & Smith had proven their point, and they wouldn’t defend the championship with the R90S.

“It was a big change for them in ’77 and the bike was pretty tough to deal with on the bankings at Daytona, so they withdrew for their own personal reasons—maybe feeling like they just didn’t want to spend any more money,” Reg says.

Pridmore, who had no written contract with Butler & Smith, was left to find another team for the ’77 season.

“I had two offers from Kawasaki, and I took one,” he says of signing with Racecrafters Kawasaki. That yielded another crown in ’77, and in 1978 he repeated as champion again, this time for Vetter Kawasaki. That made Pridmore not only the first Superbike champion on the BMW in ’76 but also the oldest ever with his third-in-a-row title for ’78.

“I used to pride myself on some aspects of my racing,” says Reg, looking back on his many years of track action, “and I still do, to be a good thinking rider and a good thinking racer who won races. And that’s all it took—planning and dedication to what it was you were going to do and how you did it. I wasn’t a very good starter, so I never usually bunched into the corner with the first three or four guys. I’d take my time to see what’s cookin’ and just pull up one at a time. I’d watch McLaughlin and I’d pass him so many times on the inside, and he used to hate me for it. Then I would pass him on the outside and he’d still get pissed at me.”

For Reg, racing is history now, but his involvement with bikes goes on. He’s been teaching riding and safety for some four decades at this point, and for 20 of those years used BMWs in his CLASS teaching sessions, though presently he’s with Honda. His students ride their own bikes, however, a mix that includes sportbikes, tourers and dual-purpose—anything’s fine so long as it passes his pre-track tech inspection.

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