First Family of Racing – Tommy Hayden’s Story
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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.
Chapter 8 in The First Family of Racing is written by Nicky’s older brother, Tommy. 2-time AMA National Champ in the Supersport class (2004, 2005), Tommy went on to a successful career in the Superbike class before becoming one of the many victims of declining interest in motorcycle road racing here in the United States.
Tommy often comes to his younger bother’s races, and I’m never surprised to see him in Nicky’s box. Actually, I take that back: I was surprised to find him riding a bicycle around the service road at Losail several years ago. But since then, I’ve seen him many times in the paddock and am always impressed by how he travels such distances to support his brother.
One of the things that comes through The First Family of Racing most clearly is how Family as a personal value is very important to the Haydens. This comes out over and over again, from each of the guest narrators who take turns among the majority of chapters presented from Earl’s perspective.
In Chapter 8, Tommy says: “I think the main thing Dad taught us was that if we were going to be professionals, we needed to treat it like a profession through our work habits, practicing, and not goofing off and wasting time. We had a deal that he was always as committed as we were, so if we wanted to race on the weekends, then we needed to put in the practice during the week and put in the work. If we did everything that he thought we should do, he would commit equally and basically spend every dollar he had.
“He never made us race or forced us to practice, but if we expected him to drive us to Texas on Friday afternoon to race for the weekend, then we’d better have held up our end of the deal by practicing through the week and not getting into trouble in school.”
Tommy on his Makita Rockstar Suzuki AMA Superbike, 2009
One of the things I really like about this book is how it shows motorcycling as a positive influence on family life. Especially here in the United States, where motorcycles are often associated with dangerous and inconsiderate behavior or with so-called outlaw motorcycle clubs or gangs, we don’t have enough examples of how motorcycles are as good or as bad as the intentions you bring with you when you mount up. The Hayden family is a great example of the positive side of motorcycling.
There’s also a nice promo video on YouTube.
©2014 by Scott Jones / PHOTO.GP – All Rights Reserved
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