It was a sombre week in the motorcycling community as we learned of the tragic and untimely passing of the racing legend, Nicky Hayden.
On May 17, 2017, Nicky was cycling and training in Italy when he was struck by a vehicle. Sadly, he suffered a terribly traumatic brain injury that proved to be too much. Hayden succumbed to his injuries on May 22, 2017.
The ‘Kentucky Kid’ left his mark on the entire two-wheel community, not just on the dirt track, superbike, and MotoGP circuits where he raced. The 2006 MotoGP World Champion touched many lives, including many of those in the motocross community. Upon hearing of his passing, many professional riders and industry leaders took to their social media to share their stories and offer their condolences to the brother they lost so tragically.
Nicky was known for his racing, of course, but will likely be remembered more so for his charisma, personality, and sportsmanship on and off the track – qualities that made him instantly well liked and respected by anyone and everyone. Sadness rippled throughout our entire community as we sought to pay our respects to the legend.
“RIP Champ… It was a pleasure to know you. I’m gonna miss that smile and Kentucky twang.” – Jeff Emig
“Devastating to hear the news about fellow Honda rider, Nicky Hayden. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers.” – GEICO Honda
“You will always be our champion! My thoughts and prayers are with the family!” – Jeremy McGrath
“Godspeed Nicky. We lost a good one. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.” – Cole Seely
“Gonna miss these days buddy, always smiling and quick to make a joke or tell a story about one of our old training days. You’re the best example anyone could have and for that, I’m very thankful. There isn’t a better person out there. Rest In Peace, Nicky.” – Ricky Carmichael
“RIP Nicky Hayden. This guy always had time to say hello and ask how things were going. A great person and a racer gone too soon.” – Zach Osborne
Motorcycling of any discipline is tied together by the common thread that a love for two-wheels means we are family – and in this family, we come together and stand tall in times of need. Race day at Glen Helen began with a moment of silence to honour our fallen brother, Nicky Hayden, with his Honda Flat Track bike prominently displayed on the podium for opening ceremonies. The Honda Powersports US Instagram stated: “Thank you, Pro Motocross, for conducting a moment of silence for Nicky Hayden during today’s Glen Helen MX. We’re racing for you today.”
His presence was felt throughout, with fans and riders alike paying special tributes to the #69. Nearly every team in the paddock was honouring Nicky Hayden in some way with the signature American flag, star sixty-nine logo that the ‘Kentucky Kid’ was famous for running his entire career.
Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki riders wore pants adorned with butt patches with ‘Kentucky Kid’ and ’69’ on them.
Star Racing Yamaha riders had the signature 69 placed on their left sleeve of their jerseys.
The TLD Red Bull KTM riders even received special permission from MX Sports and the AMA to run the American flag 69 on their front number plates for the entire first moto.
Although a sombre week, it’s beautiful to see how our community comes together during times of tragedy. This is what sets the two-wheel community apart from other sports. The shock of Hayden’s death was felt around the world, but we stand together to honour the legend, and this weekend, we all raced for Nicky.