Ranking The Top Ten SuperBike Champions - No. 10
NEWS January 16, 2014
Photo by Vintage Superbike
Written by Chris Martin:
January 16, 2014 - When I first started brainstorming my list of the ten greatest champions in AMA Pro SuperBike history, I instantly knew that Reg Pridmore was going to be included… and that he would be ranked tenth.
British-born Pridmore not only holds the distinction of being the first-ever Superbike champ at a national level, he was also the first two-time and three-time Superbike champ.
Having moved from England to Southern-California is search of adventure and opportunity, Pridmore found plenty of both. Having proven a production-bike prodigy in the competitive Californian club scene during the 1970s, Pridmore was poised to strike when the SuperBike class was officially recognized as an AMA Pro National Championship series in 1976.
Riding a Butler & Smith BMW R90S, Pridmore took the inaugural title. He followed that up with a second crown in '77 on a Racecrafters Kawasaki, and then went three-for-three in '78 on a Vetter Kawasaki.
So why just tenth? Pridmore's era in Superbike racing was one spent on the undercard, largely overshadowed by the Formula 1 and Formula 2 categories, which featured dedicated GP-style race machinery and icons-in-the-making such as Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Randy Mamola, and Eddie Lawson.
Additionally, outside of his remarkable three titles (a number only seven-time champion Mat Mladin has bettered), his statistics are not overly gaudy. Pridmore's career totals of three SuperBike wins and two poles don't match up to those of current day competitors Jake Zemke and Larry Pegram, let alone the Mladins and Josh Hayeses who would later follow in the trail originally blazed by Pridmore and his contemporaries.
However, Pridmore's place in AMA Pro SuperBike history is cemented, and as such he gets the nod on this list ahead of undisputed Superbike masters Eddie Lawson and Doug Polen.
And almost 40 years later, that history remains relevant. While photos may make the unruly 140-horsepower Superbikes of the late '70s and early '80s appear to be a million miles away from the 200+ horsepower precision weapons of today, philosophically, the class has come full circle, with cost controls and reigned-in rules re-emphasized in recent years.
After retiring from full-time racing, Pridmore further made his mark by teaching his consistent and clinical style to legions of riders through his CLASS Motorcycle Schools. Additionally, he proved to have good genes as well, as his son, Jason, developed into a national and world championship racer in his own right (as well as a similarly smooth and instructive rider).
They say you always remember your first -- and for AMA Pro SuperBike, that's Reg Pridmore.
Next time: #9…
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