American motorcycle racer Nicky Hayden is now a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame. Nicky is probably best known for his rides on American Honda-backed teams.
Nicky rode for American Honda-backed teams in AMA road racing classes between 1999 and 2002. He won the AMA 600 Supersport Championship in his first year (1999) and ultimately garnered 6 Supersport series wins.
Then in 2002, he went on to win the AMA Superbike Championship to become the youngest ever AMA Superbike Champion. During his time in that series, he took 17 wins riding a Honda RC51 and RC45.
Moving upward again, Hayden entered the World Superbike Series riding a Honda RC51 and CBR1000RR. Although he didn’t win a World Superbike Championship, he did take 1 win and 4 podiums.
Ultimately, Nicky entered the pinnacle of motorcycle road racing, MotoGP. And in 2006, he won the MotoGP World Championship. During his career in the series, he garnered 28 podiums and 3 wins.
And, we must not forget his dirt track accomplishments. In 1999 Nicky won his first Grand National Championship race (Hagerstown Half Mile) and also took Rookie of the Year honors.
In 2000, Hayden won the Springfield Short Track, and in 2002, despite racing in just a handful of dirt-track events, Hayden won four races: the Springfield Short Track (twice), the Springfield TT, and the Peoria TT. The win at the 2002 Peoria TT came after beating 13-time Peoria winner Chris Carr, despite starting from the penalty line. Nicky only lacked a win at a mile track to join Dick Mann, Kenny Roberts Sr., Bubba Shobert, and Doug Chandler in the prestigious “Grand Slam Club.”
As a Honda Factory Rider, Hayden’s induction means a lot. Bill Savino, Senior Manager of Customer Engagement, said:
“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. 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.”
Tragically, Nicky lost his life in 2017 in a bicycling accident in Italy.