First Family of Racing – Earl Hayden’s Stories
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Since Earl Hayden’s book, The First Family of Racing, was released, I’ve been taking my time enjoying it. As his middle son, Nicky, is one of the riders with whom I work most regularly, it’s very interesting to learn about the history of the Hayden family.
Of particular note is each occasional where I come across some aspect of Earl’s approach to raising his kids in an environment wherein motorbike racing is a central theme. The book is written as if Earl (most frequently, though other family members have guest chapters told in their own words) is speaking to you, and thus has a unique style that lets his down-home personality comes through.
For example, at one point Earl talks about showing up in Florida at the start of the season and meeting other parents who’d traveled from the northeast. When he asked if they’d practiced over thew winter, they replied that it had been too cold and snowy in New York.
It was cold in Kentucky, too, but the Haydens had been practicing all winter, at indoor races or in their barn!
An excerpt: “At the minimum, we’d practice four days a week, but most weeks we would practice seven days a week for four hours a day, and then we would race 40 to 45 weekends a year and I’d say on the worst years it was 35 weekends a year. It was just that racing. They’d start on 50s, and move up tp 60s, 80s, 125s—everything a little faster. The kids who started at 16 on a 450 really didn’t get that foundation. You gotta build that foundation to be the best.”
Does this give you an idea of why Nicky often rides the most laps at a test?
There’s also a nice promo video on YouTube.
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