On Friday, Owensboro, Kentucky, revealed a statue celebrating the life and accomplishments of the late motorcycling road racing champion Nicky Hayden. The ceremony included a speech by Mayor Tom Watson, who proclaimed June 9 Nicky Hayden Day, referencing Nicky’s racing number 69 (6/9).
The “Kentucky Kid” rose to motorcycling fame racing both AMA Flat Track and the AMA Superbike Series. He won the 2002 AMA Superbike Championship for Honda before entering the MotoGP World Championship in 2003. In 2006, Hayden won the 2006 MotoGP crown over Valentino Rossi.
Hayden, who left MotoGP in 2016 to compete in World Superbike with Honda, was training on his bicycle on the Rimi coast in Italy last year when he was struck by a car. He was taken to a local hospital for head and chest trauma. According to a medical bulletin released by the hospital, Hayden had severe cerebral damage and multiple traumatic injuries. Hayden was in Italy after competing in a World Superbike round at Imola.
He was just 35.
Raised in a racing family in Kentucky, Nicky, along with his brothers Tommy and Roger, all rose through the ranks to become professional road racers.
The Hayden family (Nicky’s parents, siblings, and fiancée, as well as members of his extended family) and the city commissioned the bronze statue created by George Lundeen, who was also in attendance.
“This event and this sculpture mean a great deal to our family,” said Nicky’s older brother, Tommy. “In the year since his death, we’ve been blown away by the outpouring of support from locals and people all over the world. A number of Nicky’s fans have told me that they would like to have a destination where they can pay their respects to their hero, and this statue will serve that purpose. In addition, I hope it will serve as a tangible reminder to Owensboro citizens that it’s possible to achieve great things while remaining true to your community, just like Nicky did.”