Nicky Hayden rode for American Honda-backed teams in AMA road racing classes between 1999 and 2002, earning the AMA 600 Supersport Championship and AMA Pro Athlete of the Year Award in 1999, and the AMA Superbike Championship and Daytona 200 win in 2002. During part of that tenure, he also rode Hondas in a scrappy AMA Flat Track side project, famously joining brothers Tommy and Roger to lead a Hayden-family podium sweep of the 2002 Springfield TT. Nicky then joined the factory Repsol Honda team in MotoGP from 2003 to 2008, earning the 2006 MotoGP World Championship. He rode for a private Honda MotoGP team in 2014 and 2015, before switching to Honda’s World Superbike team. In 2017, Hayden tragically lost his life in a bicycle accident during a training ride in Italy. In 2018, Hayden was posthumously inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, one of the motorcycling world’s top recognitions.
This week’s honor is more mainstream, as the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America annually recognizes personalities from the entire world of motorsports – including many forms of auto racing, powerboats, aviation and motorcycles. Other members of Hayden’s class are stockcar driver Davey Allison, land-speed racer John Cobb, drag racer Larry Dixon Jr., Indy and NASCAR trailblazer Janet Guthrie, Indy journalist Robin Miller, powerboat team owner Fran Muncey, NASCAR champion Ray Nichels and famed sports-car racing scorer Judy Stropus. The class of 2020 – including motorcycle dirt track champion Chris Carr – was honored two nights earlier, after last year’s ceremony was postponed due to COVID-19.
“On behalf of the entire motorcycling community, congratulations to the Hayden family for this prestigious recognition of Nicky’s accomplishments on and off the track,” said Bill Savino, Senior Manager of Customer Engagement at American Honda. “The Kentucky Kid will always occupy a place in our hearts – as a racer, but especially as a person – and we’re pleased that the Hall of Fame also recognizes how exceptional he was.”