(Photo by Box Repsol - Nicky Hayden. GP de Australia 2016. MotoGP)
Known as “The Kentucky Kid,” Nicky Hayden, of Owensboro, Ky., was a force on the American motorcycle racing scene before taking his talent to the world stage, ultimately winning motorcycle racing’s grandest championship, the FIM MotoGP title.
Hayden, who tragically passed away on May 22, 2017, as a result of injuries sustained when he was hit by a car while training on his bicycle in Italy, was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2018.
Here are 10 interesting facts related to Hayden.
1. In 1997, he capped his amateur career with the first-ever AMA Horizon Award, presented for his triumphs in flat track. The award signified that Hayden had proven himself to be the amateur racer with the brightest potential for continued success in the pro ranks. Hayden’s 1997 award was the first AMA Horizon Award ever presented.
2. With the Horizon Award in hand, the “Kentucky Kid” turned pro. He was 16.
3. He signed with American Honda in 1999 to race the AMA 600 Supersport class for the Honda satellite squad, Erion Racing. He won the 600cc title that same year and was second in the AMA Formula Xtreme series.
4. Also in 1999, Hayden won his first GNC race, the Hagerstown Half-Mile, and was named AMA Flat Track Rookie of the Year.
5. Honda moved Hayden to the factory AMA Superbike team in 2000. He won the prestigious Daytona 200 at the start of 2002 on his way to capturing the AMA Superbike Championship title that same year.
6. In 2002 at 21 years old, Hayden was the youngest champion in the history of AMA Superbike racing.
7. Hayden moved to the Repsol Honda MotoGP effort for 2003, earning his first MotoGP win at Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.,
8. He ultimately won motorcycle racing’s grandest championship, earning the FIM MotoGP title in 2006.
9. Hayden moved to the factory Ducati team in 2009, returning to Honda in 2014. He began racing in the FIM World Superbike series for Honda in 2016.
10. In 2017, the AMA Board of Directors honored Hayden’s memory by naming the AMA Horizon Awards in Hayden’s honor. The annual Nicky Hayden AMA Horizon Awards recognize the amateur racers who show the most promise for immediate success in the pro ranks; they are presented in the disciplines of flat track, road racing and motocross.