TRIBUTES FLOOD IN FOR HAYDEN
The world of motorcycling – and sport – reflects on the passing of an amazing racer and an even more amazing person
Since the news last week of his tragic death in a cycling accident in Italy, tributes have flooded in for Nicky Hayden both from the racing fraternity and from the wider world. One of the most popular characters ever to race a motorbike, there’s has been a huge outpouring of emotion with heartfelt messages of condolence for his family as well as a lot of friends remembering the good times with the Kentucky Kid.
With that in mind, MCN has spoken to some of those closest to Nicky and gathered together their tributes and memories of the 2006 Motogp world champion.
Roger Hayden Nicky’s brother and current Motoamerica front-runner
Nicky my brother, our story wasn’t supposed to end like this. You were world champ for a reason. I’ve never met someone with the desire for racing bikes like you. I remember growing up we shared a room and you studying notes you took from the previous race and we were 12-13 years old. I’ll never forget the Monday morning after you won the world championship, you woke me up to go running. That’s what separated you from the rest and made you a legend. I could go on and on.
ROGER HAYDEN, NICKY’S BROTHER
You made everyone here better, because when you weren’t here, we were riding or cycling to close the gap for when we rode with you again. You pushed me to my best, but more importantly I’ll remember what kind of brother you were. You were a legend of a racer and a brother. You were there for me no matter what was going on in life. You wanted to help, I’m glad you were able to see me at my best these past couple of years. Not just on the bike, but mainly off it.
I can sit here and ask ‘why’ all day, but instead I want to be thankful for having a brother like you for 33 years. Don’t worry - I have the nieces handled. No boyfriends until they’re in college and I’ll teach the nephews what it takes to be a champion in whatever they decide. Till we ride again I love you.
Mark Lloyd Red Bull KTM mechanic and one of Nicky’s world championshipwinning crew
It’s a bit of a shock, really. I still can’t believe it. When I think of Nicky I always think of his work ethic and just how generous he was. The year he won the championship, he won the BMW qualifier’s award too, and a Z4 convertible – and we all laughed and joked that it would end up on his dad Earl’s used car lot back in Kentucky.
At Christmastime, I got a package in the post and it was the end of season review book with a really nice letter by Nicky – and a big cheque. He sold the car and split the money between the mechanics in the team. It blew me away, and I dug the book and the letter out this week and it brought tears to my eyes.
No-one realised just how hard that year was for us. The bike was brand new and we had so many problems, especially with the clutch. He was more injured than people realised going into the last round too, after getting knocked off in Portugal, and we knew it was going to take something special to win the title. But a bad clutch wasn’t going to wreck what he’s worked for all his life!
Tommy Hayden Nicky’s brother and former AMA Superbike racer
Although this is obviously a sad time, we would like everyone to remember Nicky at his happiest – riding a motorcycle. He dreamed as a kid of being a pro rider and not only achieved that but also managed to reach the pinnacle of his chosen sport by becoming World Champion. We are all so proud of that.
Apart from these ‘public’ memo-
ries, we will also have many great and happy memories of Nicky at home in Kentucky, in the heart of the family. We will all miss him terribly.
Casey Stoner Former world champion and team-mate
He always gave me a lot of time, even when I was in 125 and 250s and he was already in the top class. He was always happy to stop for a chat and that never changed throughout his career. As a team-mate he was fantastic, always a lot of fun and he never stopped smiling, even when things were tough.
‘ The morning after you won the world title you woke me up to go running’ ‘Nicky was a great racer and a wonderful person’ MARC MARQUEZ
‘He reached the pinnacle - we are all so proud of that’ TOMMY HAYDEN, NICKY’S BROTHER
He’s someone that we’re going to miss, someone that no-one has a bad word to say about, and someone that always put everything he had into his racing.
He was very close with his family too, and that showed the kind of guy he was. We always had a lot of fun in the snow when the team did their launch at Vroom, and there’s a lot of good memories from those days - we always enjoyed each other’s company. We’re all going to miss him.
Marc Marquez Reigning world champion and former team-mate
It’s very sad for all of Motogp and for the whole motorcycling family, because of course Nicky was a great racer but he was also a wonderful person. He was really passionate about bikes. I have really fond memories with him when he was in the Repsol Honda team. One of the most special memories is my first big event, when I started in the world championship in 2008 at 15. He was in Motogp and we went to an event together and by the end of the night I was like his little brother. My English was really poor, but he spoke a little Spanish and it was a funny night. We had a great party last year in Phillip Island after I won the championship and he wild-carded as my team-mate!
Jorge Lorenzo Former world champion and rival
As a rider, Nicky was one of the fastest Americans in the past few years, with a very special riding style and a lot of sliding.
As a man, everyone in the paddock shared the same opinion of him as a really nice guy who was always happy and always smiling. It’s a real pity for everyone, and we need to remember him as the good guy and excellent rider that he was.
We spent a lot of time together on track, and I remember fighting with him for one of my very first podiums in Indianapolis during my first year. We had some fun playing basketball a few years ago at a media event too – everyone has great memories of their time with him.
Yoshishige Nomura HRC President
Nicky has been such a close friend and member of the HRC family that it’s hard to believe he is gone. Together we won two AMA titles and the 2006 Motogp crown, and until his accident he was giving 100% to bring success to the Red Bull Honda WSB team. Nicky was a great rider and champion but he was an even better person. We always had the utmost respect for his racing spirit and for the commitment he showed.
‘Nicky was a great rider and champion, but an even better person’