An expat’s finest hour

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“The idea of the schools,” Reg told me years ago, “is to point to concentration and control but not to take the fun out of it. We deal with a lot of fast riders, and with a lot who just bought their bike a few months ago. We’re there to help people and to give them a better idea of what motorcycling is about.”

Reg’s 2014 CLASS calendar includes 14 sessions at Laguna Seca, Sonoma, Willow Springs, Virginia International and Oregon Raceway. When Reg isn’t on the road, or on track teaching, he’s up in the sky with his wife Gigi and dog Emma. He doesn’t have his aerobatic Citabria anymore, and the sleek little Swift that followed is in other hands now, too. Reg’s latest winged delight is a Scout bush plane, with its big wheels and fat balloon tires allowing him to fly south out of Santa Paula to natural shorelines along the Sea of Cortez in Baja California.

“It’s beautiful, peaceful,” Reg says. “We go and land on all the beaches, anywhere we want.”

Reg, who’s 74 and still thinks like 34, although with a lot more useful data up-loaded to his cranial hard drive, remembers what his parents used to tell him when he was a lad back in England, before he got onto race bikes, actually before anything significant to do with motorcycles happened in his life: “Don’t be rude to old people. You’ll get old yourself someday.”

In any event, I’ve thought for a long time that this man is ageless.

Reg and Gigi were looking through his scrapbooks recently, and there he was in his ’70s long hair and mutton chop sideburns wearing those Bates racing leathers and Elvis Presley shades.

“When Gigi saw that,” says Reg, “she started making fun of me and said, ‘I didn’t know you wanted to be The King.’ And I said, ‘Well, I was The King, not like KR [Kenny Roberts, AMA and Grand Prix legend], though.’”

Pointing at some writing on one of his scrapbook photos, he says, “Look, right there on the picture, ‘Reg The King.’”

Truth be told, Reg Pridmore is a motorcycle royal who’ll never be dethroned.

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