The motorsport world lost a legend on May 22, 2017, when Nicky Hayden succumbed to injuries sustained in a freak crash. At the time, Hayden was riding his bicycle and training in Italy for WSBK when he was struck by a car.
Since his untimely passing, the Kentucky Kid has been inducted into the Kentucky Sports and Motorsports Hall of Fame, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, and had his number (69) prior to the MotoGP race at the Circuit of the Americas in 2019. Most recently, the Motorsports Hall of Fame announced the members of its 33rd class and Hayden topped the list.
Like many American racers, Nicky Hayden started in the dirt track scene before transitioning over to road racing. The Owensboro native quickly rose through the ranks, winning the AMA Supersport championship in 1999 before becoming the youngest rider to raise the AMA Superbike title in 2002. The following season, The Kentucky Kid joined one Valentino Rossi at MotoGP’s Repsol Honda team and go on to take the Doctor's crown in 2006.
“Nicky and his brothers set the standard for what a motorcycle racing career could be,” said MSHFA board member Adam Saal. “Obviously, we wish Nicky could accept this honor himself, but hopefully this puts another crowning moment on Nicky’s career and gives the Hayden family another reason to celebrate.”
Nicky Hayden left Honda for Ducati in 2009 before hopping aboard another Honda in 2013 with the Aspar satellite team. After 13 years on the Grand Prix grid, Hayden departed for WSBK but not before MotoGP named him one of its Legends. In his long and illustrious career, the American racer won 3 races, stood on 28 podiums, and snagged 5 pole positions. His contributions added to a long line of American racers succeeding on the world stage.
“Nicky being inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is a huge honor,” the Hayden family told Owensboro Times. “It is an extremely proud moment for Nicky and our family.”
The MotoGP Legend joins NASCAR champion Ray Nichels, land speed record holder John Cobb, NHRA Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon Jr., and the first woman in NASCAR Janet Guthrie.