Nicky Hayden was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame during the 2018 American Honda AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Dec. 7 at the Hilton Columbus/Polaris in Columbus, Ohio.
Known as "The Kentucky Kid," Hayden, of Owensboro, Ky., was a force on the American motorcycle racing scene before taking his talent to the world stage, ultimately winning motorcycle racing's grandest championship, the FIM MotoGP title in 2006.
Born in 1981, Hayden raced flat track and road raced Yamaha YSR50s and then Honda RS125s as a youngster. With the full support of his family, especially parents Rose and Earl Hayden, Nicky Hayden's story was a classic tale of an American grassroots racer accelerating through the ranks. In 1997, he capped his amateur career with the first-ever AMA Horizon Award, presented for his triumphs in flat track. The award signified that Hayden had proven himself to be the amateur racer with the brightest potential for continued success in the pro ranks.
With the Horizon Award in hand, the "Kentucky Kid" turned pro at the age of 16. As a professional, Hayden competed in the AMA Grand National Championship, the pro flat track series, as well as in AMA Pro Road Racing.
He signed with American Honda's support team, Erion Honda, in 1999 to race the AMA 600 Supersport class, winning the 600cc championship that same year. Honda moved Hayden to the factory AMA Superbike team in 2000, and in 2002 he captured the AMA Superbike Championship. At age 21, Hayden became the youngest champion in the history of AMA Superbike racing.
Hayden then moved to the Repsol Honda MotoGP effort for 2003, earning his first MotoGP win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., in 2005. He won there again in 2006 while on his way to winning the MotoGP World Championship.
Hayden moved to the factory Ducati team in 2009, returning to Honda in 2014. He began racing in the FIM World Superbike series for Honda in 2016.
Tragically, Hayden was hit by a car while training on a bicycle in Italy on May 17, 2017. He succumbed to his injuries five days later, on May 22.
A Glory Days statue commemorating the induction was presented to Nicky Hayden's brother, AMA road racing champion Tommy Hayden, by AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Gary Mathers.
"It is hard to imagine that there is anyone who loved motorcycle racing more than Nicky," Tommy Hayden said. "He ate, slept and breathed motorcycles 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So many of his idols and heroes that he looked up to as a kid are members of the AMA Hall of Fame. So, to be joining them tonight in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, I know would be one of his proudest accomplishments."