Former MotoGP champion and current World Superbike racer Nicky Hayden died today, five days after a car collided with his bicycle while training. The Maurizio Bufalini Hospital released a statement stating the racer had died of multiple traumatic injuries, including serious cerebral damage.
Hayden was respected not just for his raw talent, but also for his drive, success and charisma. Nicky's race career began on the dirt track at age 5, and he improved himself relentlessly, eventually moving to to road racing, ascending to the very top of the sport. Nicky Hayden became the youngest AMA Superbike champion in 2002, and won the MotoGP world championship in 2006, beating rival Valentino Rossi. "After the race, we shook hands and hugged," Rossi recalled.
That sentiment poignantly encapsulates Hayden instantly. In a sport so known for its fierce competition, both on and off the track, Nicky was not only respected but incredibly well liked. This was no doubt due to the high level of sportsmanship he displayed throughout his career.
Hayden's engaging personality was part of why he was so popular with so many fans. No death is an easy one to cope with, but to have such a talented and personable member of our community gone so suddenly makes his death acutely tragic. If you're interested in learning more about Hayden's life and impact on motorcycling, author Chris Jonnum, who was close with Nicky, authored a book chronicling Hayden's life. Jonnum intimately explains some of the roots that helped forge Nicky Hayden into the legendary racer Common Tread will fondly remember.