Happy 76th Birthday, Dear Reg Camarillo!
Celebrating Reg Camarillo's 76th birthday.

Remember Reg Camarillo, the quiet, handsome cousin of Leo and Jerold, who was huge heading help in the roping fame and fortune that is the Camarillo family legacy? The Lion was no dummy, and Reg was one of the most consistent catchers this sport had ever seen. So when Reg’s two-year Army stint in Vietnam was over, Leo drafted him directly onto Team Camarillo. You can find the results of that little chess move in the rodeo record books. But one of the most magnificent highlights was Reg and Leo winning the team roping average at the National Finals Rodeo three years in a row, from 1960-71, then Reg and Jerold taking the title on 10 in 1975. Reg never won the world, but he sure was a significant MVP in Leo and Jerold’s quest for roping immortality—which they both achieved with induction into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.

Leo and Reg at the 1973 Chowchilla Stampede in California. Anna Robertson Photo

Reg did not grow up with tunnel vision for roping and the goal of revolutionary roping greatness, like Leo and Jerold did. But when he returned from Vietnam, and was based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, time spent roping with the Yates family in nearby Pueblo sure didn’t hurt his cause and climb up the ladder that led him into Leo and Jerold’s rig. The Yates arena served as Reg’s off-duty boot camp, and was his outdoor outlet for fresh air and fun with friends on weekends.

[Read: Family Ties: The Nogueira–Camarillo Connection]

Leo and Reg in the winner’s circle at the 1969 Nevada Dally Team Roping Championship in Las Vegas, the year rookie Reg qualified for his first NFR in Oklahoma City—and won it with Leo. Camarillo Family Scrapbook

“When I finished up at Fort Carson (in the fall of 1968), I drove back to California,” remembers Reg, who turns 76 today. “The Cow Palace was going on (in San Francisco), so I stopped in to say hello to my cousins. Leo said, ‘You need to join the RCA (the PRCA-predecessor Rodeo Cowboys Association) next year, and we’re roping together.’ That shocked me, because I never thought I roped that good. I think what Leo saw in me was that I caught a lot. My roping wasn’t all that fancy, but Leo was looking for heel shots. And I could get steers turned.

“Leo pushed me. And I worked to have better horses to have out in front of him. I could easily have never rodeoed, but Leo wasn’t taking no for an answer.”

Brothers Reg and Sonny Camarillo the day of Uncle Ralph’s funeral in 1997. Christie Camarillo Photo

In case you’re curious about the family tree, Reg is the son of Rudy and Pearl Camarillo. Rudy and Ralph—Leo, Jerold and Christie’s dad—were brothers. Reg, who’s 11 months older than Leo was, has one brother, Sonny, and four sisters.

[Read: Remembering Leo “The Lion” Camarillo]

“It was quite a ride we had,” Reg said. “Sure glad Leo and Jerold decided to take me along with them. I have some pretty amazing memories from those good old days when we all rodeoed together.”

La Familia Camarillo knew how to hit the ground running. Leo won his first NFR his rookie year with fellow Californian Billy Wilson. And Reg won his first NFR his rookie year with Leo in 1969.

Reg turning one on Wildfire for Leo on Stick at the NFR in Oklahoma City.
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