Nicky Hayden: July 30, 1981 – May 22, 2017
The official statement has arrived: due to injuries sustained last Wednesday in a bicycle accident in Rimini, Italy, Nicky Hayden has died.
The Red Bull Honda World Superbike team reports that the 35-year-old Kentuckian passed away at 7:09 p.m. CEST Monday, May 22, in the Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, Italy. The 2006 MotoGP Champion was hit by a car while cycling, and later succumbed to traumatic brain injuries.
His fiancée Jackie, mother Rose and older brother Tommy were at his side.
“On behalf of the whole Hayden family and Nicky’s fiancée Jackie I would like to thank everyone for their messages of support – it has been a great comfort to us all knowing that Nicky has touched so many people’s lives in such a positive way,” Tommy Hayden says.
“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 in becoming World Champion. We are all so proud of that.
“Apart from these ‘public’ memories, 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.
“It is also important for us to thank all the hospital staff for their incredible support – they have been very kind. With the further support of the authorities in the coming days we hope to have Nicky home soon.”
Nicky, of Owensboro, Kentucky, was around the motorcycle racing scene since early childhood. This was due to his dad Earl’s love and participation in racing. Nicky was constantly at racing events with his father and mother Rose, along with his siblings: older brother Tommy; younger brother Roger Lee, who currently competes in MotoAmerica Superbike; and sisters Kathleen and Jenny.
The “Kentucky Kid” won his first AMA Supersport Championship in 1999 as a privateer (Honda), and beat Mat Mladin to the the 2002 AMA Superbike title after winning that year’s Daytona 200. In his AMA days, Nicky also competed in American dirt track racing, winning a few Grand National events.
In 2003, he joined the Repsol Honda team in MotoGP alongside nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, earning Rookie of the Year. Hayden would then battle with Rossi throughout the 2006 MotoGP Championship, and claim the title by a mere five points ahead of “The Doctor” Valentino Rossi.
Hayden continued racing in MotoGP through 2015, competing for Ducati Team (2009-2013) and Aspar Honda (2014-2015).
For 2016, Nicky joined the World Superbike Championship with Ten Kate Honda (now Red Bull Honda World Superbike), becoming the sole American in the series. His last race occurred May 14 at Imola, three days before his bicycle crash.
Speaking of his passing, Honda World Superbike says:
“Throughout his career Nicky’s professionalism and fighting spirit was greatly valued and carried him to numerous successes, including his childhood dream of being crowned MotoGP World Champion with Honda in 2006. As well as being a true champion on the track, Nicky was a fan favorite off it due to his kind nature, relaxed demeanor, and the huge smile he invariably carried everywhere.
“Nothing says more about Nicky’s character than the overwhelming response expressed by fellow racers and his legions of fans over the past few days. Jackie and his family are truly grateful for the countless prayers and well wishes for Nicky.
“The ‘Kentucky Kid’ will be sorely missed by all that ever had the pleasure of meeting him or the privilege to see him race a motorcycle around a track, be it dirt or asphalt.
“The racing world says goodbye to one of its dearest sons. Rest in peace Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Patrick Hayden.”
The staff at Ultimate Motorcycling offers condolences to Nicky’s family, friends and the entire racing community.
Remember and pay tribute to Hayden by using the hashtag #RideOnKentuckyKid