An expat’s finest hour

No one expected BMW to win the very first American Superbike Championship when the series began in 1976, or the top honors to go to British-born rider Reg Pridmore.

February 27, 2014
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That Reginald Charles Pridmore III had won three consecutive AMA Superbike Championships—his and the series’ first aboard a Butler & Smith-tuned BMW R90S in 1976, then two more on a Kawasaki in ’77 and ’78—inspired enough confidence for me to ride passenger on his motorcycle. Lots of people have done that, of course, a passenger ride with Reg having been a staple component of the instruction at his CLASS motorcycle schools for decades. But where most of Reg’s riding students rode behind him in the usual fashion—i.e. facing forward—I did so facing backward at not one but two California road race circuits.

Twenty-one years ago, I braved the back of Reg’s bike for a documentary I was making about CLASS. Gripping a shoulder-mounted videotape camera in my right hand and a fistful of Reg’s leathers in my left, I shot rearward as Pridmore led a group of students around Willow Springs Raceway, the idea being that they’d throttle past us on each side for a cool shot. Unfortunately, they couldn’t catch us—Pridmore was on the gas.

“Reg! Slow down! Let them go by!” I yelled over the bike’s revs and wind. Didn’t faze him. Again I yelled, and again he couldn’t hear me. Another lap, and finally he backed off for the students to gain and pass, inside, outside. Facing them coming by, I got exactly the shot I wanted.

Talking again in 2103, Reg and I laughed about that two-up ride as hard as we did back in 1992. Silly now. Serious then.

If you trust your life to someone, you gain entitlement to tell what you know of him. This I know about Reg Pridmore: He’s the real deal. A stand-up guy. A winner then, now, and always.

Marketing moves:

Win on Sunday, sell on Monday…they hoped!

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