Nicky Hayden, nicknamed The Kentucky Kid, was an American professional motorcycle racer who won the MotoGP World Championship in 2006.
Let’s fund out some facts about him!
1. Nicholas “Nicky” Patrick Hayden was born July 30, 1981 in Owensboro, Kentucky.
2. He started road racing with the CMRA, often against racers many times older. Hayden would often start races from the back of the grid because a family or crew member would have to hold his bike upright as his feet would not yet touch the ground. Later, at age 17, he was racing factory Honda RC45 superbikes while still in high school.
3. In 1999, he won the AMA Supersport championship on board a privateer Honda. In 2001, his first full season as an AMA superbike racer, he came within 40 points of winning the championship, finishing behind only champion Mat Mladin and runner-up Eric Bostrom.
4. The 2002 season, however, would see Hayden answering the bell: he won the Daytona 200 on a Honda Superbike en route to becoming the youngest ever AMA Superbike Champion, defeating reigning triple champion Mat Mladin, among others.
5. He also entered the World Superbike round at Laguna Seca, making a solid 4th in the first race before colliding with Noriyuki Haga in race two.
6. Hayden was one of a long line of American road racers to come from the American dirt-track scene.
7. In 1999, Hayden won his first Grand National Championship race (Hagerstown Half Mile) and took Rookie of the Year honors.
8. He was also declared the AMA’s athlete of the Year. In 2000, Nicky Hayden won the Springfield Short Track. In 2002, despite racing in just a handful of dirt-track events, Hayden was able to win four races: Springfield Short Track (twice), Springfield TT, and Peoria TT .
9. At the Springfield TT race, the three Hayden brothers took the first three places (Nicky 1st, Tommy 2nd, and Roger Lee 3rd).
10. The win at the 2002 Peoria TT came after beating thirteen-time Peoria winner, Chris Carr, despite starting from the penalty line.
11. Hayden only lacks a win at a mile track to join Dick Mann, Kenny Roberts Sr., Bubba Shobert, and Doug Chandler in the prestigious “Grand Slam Club.”
12. Immediately after winning his AMA Superbike championship, Hayden was tapped to join not only Honda’s MotoGP racing efforts, but what was arguably the premier team in MotoGP racing: Repsol Honda.
13. In 2004, however, Hayden had a difficult year and was widely critiqued, but he scored his first win in 2005 at Laguna Seca.
14. In 2005, Hayden finished third in the MotoGP championship points standings behind Marco Melandri and series winner Valentino Rossi.
15. For 2006, Hayden was charged with spearheading Repsol Honda’s championship aspirations, and was the only rider to be handed the full 2006 Honda bike during pre-season testing.
16. He led the championship from the third race and looked set to break Valentino Rossi’s championship-winning streak.
17. On September 22, 2006, Hayden signed a two-year agreement that allowed for him to race for and develop with the factory Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) team for the 2007 and 2008 MotoGP seasons.
18. He utilized the 800 cc Honda RC212V, and his MotoGP racing number changed from 69 to 1 for the 2007 season.
19. By the middle of 2008 it was strongly suspected by fans, media, and the MotoGP paddock already, and later supported by Hayden’s own admission during a press conference that he would be leaving Honda, that Hayden would be joining the Ducati Marlboro Team to ride alongside Casey Stoner for the 2009 MotoGP season. This was confirmed on September 15, 2008 thus ending his ten-year relationship with Honda.
20. During preseason testing, Hayden was plagued with problems and routinely finished mid-pack or lower. His major complaint was that the GP09 was “pumping” during corner exits leading to problems with grip. These problems continued throughout preseason testing.
21. Hayden finished the 2009 MotoGP championship in 13th place (out of 18), his worst result in 7 years of racing MotoGP. His championship campaign was marked by remarkable misfortune, being speared off the track on three different occasions, resulting in no point scoring races.
22. On September 3, 2009, it was confirmed that Hayden had signed a one-year extension of contract with Ducati for the 2010 MotoGP season, ending speculation of a move away from the team.
23. It was announced on October 17, 2013, that after five years with Ducati, Hayden had signed with the Aspar Racing Team for the 2014 season. Hayden partnered Hiroshi Aoyama, who moved from the Avintia Blusens squad, with the pair riding open-specification Honda RCV1000R motorcycles.
24. Hayden did not race at the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello due to a wrist injury, which had lingered since the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez two races earlier. He finished 16th in the final championship standings.
25. For the 2015 season, Hayden remained with the Aspar Racing Team, to ride a new open-specification Honda RC213V-RS. He was joined in the team by Eugene Laverty, who moved across from the Superbike World Championship.
26. On October 8, 2015, it was announced – at the pre-race press conference for the Japanese Grand Prix – that Hayden would return to the Superbike World Championship for the 2016 season.
27. Hayden replaced Sylvain Guintoli at the Ten Kate Racing-run Honda squad, alongside Michael van der Mark.
28. After strong pre-season testing results, Hayden finished his first race weekend with ninth and fourth at Phillip Island.
29. At Assen, round four, Hayden scored his first podium finish with a third place in the opening race, running with the leaders before backing off in the closing stages.
30. Hayden established a four-second gap over Rea and the now chasing Ducatis of Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano. As the race entered the last ten laps, Giugliano moved into second ahead of Rea and Davies, halving Hayden’s lead with four laps to go. Giugliano was one second behind coming onto the final lap but Hayden held the gap to win his first World Superbike race, taking Honda’s first win of the season in the process.
31. Hayden remained at Ten Kate Honda (now known as the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) for the 2017 season, partnered by Stefan Bradl.
32. Hayden returned to MotoGP for spot starts when Honda riders were injured. After Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS star Jack Miller was ruled out for the Aragon round, Hayden was called by Honda in a substitute role, finishing 15th.
33. He returned at Phillip Island when Dani Pedrosa was ruled out following the Spaniard’s crash at Motegi, marking his first appearance on a Repsol Honda since 2008, but only finished 17th after colliding with Jack Miller late in the race, who he had replaced in Aragon.
34. The FIM named him a Legend in November 2015 prior to the Valencian Grand Prix.
35. Hayden had two brothers, Tommy and Roger Lee, both professional motorcycle racers, and two sisters, Jenny and Kathleen.
36. In 2010 Tommy raced in the AMA, and Roger Lee competed in the Superbike World Championship.
37. His traditional racing number, 69, was the same number his father used. His father jokes that the number was selected because it could still be read when he frequently ended up upside down in the dirt.
38. Hayden was engaged on May 17, 2016 to Jackie Marin.
39. On May 17, 2017, Hayden was hit by a car while riding his bicycle near Rimini, Italy.
40. The crash occurred at the intersection of Via Ca’ Raffaelli and Via Tavoleto in Misano Adriatico. Hayden was traveling west on Via Ca’ Raffaelli when he was struck by a car as he entered the street to cross Via Tavoleto.
41. The driver of the car stated that he was on his way to work when Hayden passed through a stop sign and suddenly appeared in front of him. He was unable to avoid a collision.
42. The speed of the driver is not yet known but the impact of Hayden slamming into the windshield was strong enough to completely shatter it and dent down the roof of the car. Hayden’s bicycle was found in the nearby ditch with its frame snapped in half.
43. According to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport a security camera recorded the crash, displaying Hayden apparently not halting at a stop sign and possibly distracted by his iPod.
44. Hayden was taken to Rimini hospital with severe injuries. At 6:00 p.m., four hours after the accident, Rimini hospital staff announced that he had been moved to the major trauma unit at the Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena for possible surgery.
45. It was widely reported by mainstream media that Hayden was put into a medically-induced coma for surgery, which is not the case according to Hayden’s father Earl.
46. Hayden sustained a traumatic brain injury as well as a broken femur, broken pelvis, and multiple fractured vertebrae.Five days after the accident, Hayden died in the hospital on May 22, 2017.