SUPERFAST BRITISH RACER, ONCE THE OLDEST SUPERBIKE CHAMPION, STILL ACTIVE WITH ‘class’ RIDING SCHOOL > By Joe Michaud
Reginald Charles Pridmore III was born in east London in July 1939, three months before the start of WWII. He survived the London Blitz as a toddler, and experienced the limited opportunities available during the postwar reconstruction of war-ravaged Europe as a teenager.
He began racing soon after getting his first job wrenching in a local bike shop. Pridmore won his first race at Silverstone in the wet. He was riding a Triumph Tiger 100C that he built himself, from parts that took a year to accumulate. After a mandatory stint in the British army, Pridmore was trained at the Triumph
Factory in England, but found it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. At 24, he sold his house, packed all his kit in the trunk of his ’57 Studebaker, and loaded it onto a boat to the U.S.
Seeking opportunity in Southern California, Pridmore and his wife settled in Santa Barbara. He found work at a local motorcycle shop and continued racing.
Successful as a local club racer on production machines, he attracted the attention of Norton, on which he won the 1970 Supersport title. In 1971, BMW offered him a production ride on the first of the company’s new 750 bikes, the short swingarm 750/5. He also won the first AMA Superbike National Championship on a BMW R90S.
As a racer, Pridmore was best known as a tough competitor with a successful string of Superbike victories in the late ‘70s. In 1977, he piloted a Racecrafters Kawasaki, winning the first AMA Superbike race for a Japanese manufacturer at Pocono. In 1978, he piloted a Vetter Kawasaki. He also became the oldest Superbike champion, at 39, in 1979.
Since retiring from racing in 1979, Pridmore has owned a BMW motorcycle franchise in Ventura, California. He also started California’s Leading Advanced Safety School (CLASS) rider training, which has made thousands of riders safer and faster.