A number of years ago I met Nicky Hayden at Laguna Seca Raceway during a MotoGP event. My Podcast had only been running a couple of years but Nicky was gracious enough to spend a few minutes with me. I found him just as warm as his smile and our interview was as wonderful as can be, I walked away smiling ear to ear. The following year at Laguna Seca they had a not so small gathering of the former American GP champions and again I got to talk to Nicky and again it was a great conversation.
Another great visit was with Earl Hayden, Nicky’s dad. We met at Daytona there with his other two sons. We had a good visit. I asked him about him being a dad of these great racers and his reply was “well, you probably ought to ask the boys about that…”. My few minutes with him will stick with me all my life, he’s that valuable to racing. Also, an incredibly humble man, you can’t walk away from Earl and not feel good.
Enough has been said about Nicky’s career from dirt tracking as a kid to MotoGP World Champion. When last I saw Nicky at the Long Beach Motorcycle show I asked him ‘if‘ when he retired from Roadracing would he go back to Flat Track. All he did was smile and say I love dirt track.
Nicky was/is a universally liked racer both on the track, in the pits and off the track. Always smiling (well not always but a lot of the time). Nicky Hayden represented the best of what motorcycle racing is all about. A fierce competitor, a team player and a great sportsman. The racing world is missing you now and will continue to miss you. I will cherish the minutes I had with you.
Thoughts and prayers from our family to yours are in our hearts. Race in Peace and Rest in Heaven, you have deserved it.
What does a group of derelict, ex-motorcycle racers do when they get together…besides drink beer, talk about bikes from way back when and remember how fast we used to be? Easy, we watch racing on TV, of course we do move the TV out to the garage so we can smell motorcycles while watching the races.
For the past few years, some of the guys I used to roadrace with and some other riding friends, gather at one of our houses to watch the races on TV. It started with the Daytona 200, went to World Superbike, then on to MotoGP and now back to World Superbike, or… whatever looks good that weekend. We gather five or six times a season to celebrate racing, the fellowship of racers, do some serious bench racing, talk about races and racers of years past..”remember the final Superbike race at Imola in ’02?! “…”yeah, that was the best ever!”…”no, no, no..500GP at Silverstone when Doohan was sliding all over the place” and on it goes for a couple of hours. Cold beer and good BBQ make every race exciting.
The day other was the opening round of the 2009 World Superbike Championship in Australia and our group was ready for some racing. It was a beautiful day here in Southern California; sun shining, eighty degrees, coolers full of refreshing beverages, barbeque fired up and about twenty some friends. Over the years our gatherings have grown to include wives and girlfriends, dogs and kids and not to mention the food has gotten much better. We plan the race day menu based on the country where the race is…Spain, Paellea and Sangria; Japan, Sushi and Sake; England, fish and chips with Guiness…you get the idea.
The other great thing you get when a bunch of racers sitting around watching a race is the running commentary…”oh man, he easily could have passed Capirosi right there!!”…” just wait, Rossi is going to let him go by then pass him again three laps from the end”…” the Kawasaki’s going backward again…”. And then there are the cheers when something exciting happens, the groans when something bad happens and the ever popular “oh S*#T!!!” when something crazy happens. Surround sound doesn’t hurt either.
The racing can sometimes be a bit boring, but watching it with your friends never is. Give it a try…and remember to bring good beer, food and stories.