When I hear Kentucky, I think of three things: thoroughbred horses, whiskey, and, of course, Nicky Hayden.
The only American currently competing in World Superbike (Honda), Hayden was born in Owensboro, the fourth-largest city in Kentucky. Hayden began riding motorcycles around the age of 3, and began racing at a young age with brothers Tommy and Roger Lee—both successful motorcycle racers—and sister Kathleen.While growing up, his father, Earl “the squirrel” Hayden, provided endless support for Hayden and his siblings. Earl’s story is told in the book every motorcycle-racing fan should read, “Family, Faith & Racing,” which has a warming foreword by King Kenny Roberts.For those who have yet to read Earl’s book, Honda Pro Racing offers the next best thing–a video interview with Earl. Honda released the above video, which brings Earl’s voice to the camera as he discusses Nicky’s rise to the top.Earl says Nicky was a hard worker, and this hard work led to a multiple championships: AMA Supersport (1999), AMA Superbike (2002) and MotoGP (2006). His MotoGP title is one of legend as he beat nine-time World Championship to the title by a mere five points. Following 13 years in MotoGP, Hayden joined in 2016 the Honda World Superbike, where he remains for 2017.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.