American MotoGP Racer Nicky Hayden Dies

Hayden was America's last MotoGP champion Photo by courtesy of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

American MotoGP racer Nicky Hayden died on Monday of injuries suffered in a May 17 car-bicycle crash in Italy.

Hayden, who was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, and nicknamed the "Kentucky Kid," was 35.

According to several published reports, Hayden was bicycling with friends when he was hit by a car on the Rimini coast of Italy. The hospital said that Hayden had suffered severe cerebral damage and multiple traumatic injuries.

Hayden, a former teammate of Valentino Rossi (he edged Rossi for the 2006 MotoGP title) at Repsol Honda, was a regular in the MotoGP series from 2003, when he was just 21 years old, until 2015. He made one start in 2016. He won the MotoGP championship in 2006. The past two seasons, Hayden has raced in the Superbike World Championship series. He won last year in Malaysia and was 13th in the 2017 series standings at the time of his crash.

Hayden scored his first AMA 750 Supersport win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 1998 at the age of 16.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Nicky Hayden,” said Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “He was an outstanding racer and, more than that, an incredible human being. The memories he created on the track are unforgettable, and he had such a special connection to his fans. Nicky was more than a rider. He was a friend. Words just don’t describe the loss. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and fans.”

Nicky Hayden spent his last two years in the World Superbike Championship. Photo by LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

Hayden raced in six of the eight Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 2008-15, competing for Repsol Honda, Ducati and the Aspar Racing Team. He finished on the podium in his first two starts at IMS, placing second in 2008 with Repsol Honda and third in 2009 with Ducati. He missed the 2012 race due to a broken hand suffered in a crash during qualifying and the 2014 race due to a wrist injury.

"Everyone at IMS mourns the loss of our friend Nicky Hayden," IMS president J. Douglas Boles said in a press statement. "When you met Nicky, you immediately felt you had known him for years. His humility and sincerity always made genuine connections with everyone, as he truly was one of the nicest guys you could ever meet in racing. Nicky was a tireless ambassador for MotoGP at the Speedway and a passionate supporter of all events at IMS.

"When MotoGP first came to IMS in 2008, we soon learned family and his beloved Owensboro meant everything to Nicky. We offer our thoughts, prayers and condolences to his parents, Rose and Earl; his fiancée, Jackie; his brothers, Tommy and Roger; his sisters, Jenny and Kathleen; and to all his friends, teammates and legions of fans around the world. He will always be remembered fondly at IMS."

.@NickyHayden - a champion in our hearts forever. @IMS will miss you dearly. Thoughts and prayers to your family, friends and fans.

— Ind. Motor Speedway (@IMS) May 22, 2017

Saddened by the news that Nicky Hayden has passed. Honored to have met him. My heart goes out to his family and friends across the world.

— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) May 22, 2017

My heart is broken for the Hayden family, go rest high on that mountain, RIP Nicky Hayden prayers for the Hayden family

— Darrell Waltrip (@AllWaltrip) May 22, 2017

Rest In Peace @NickyHayden. Your talent and personality brought joy to many. #RIP69

— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) May 22, 2017

Mike Pryson - Mike Pryson covered auto racing for the Jackson (Mich.) Citizen Patriot and M-Live Media Group from 1991 until joining Autoweek as online motorsports editor In 2012. Promoted to motorsports editor in 2015.

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American MotoGP racer Nicky Hayden dies
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