First Family of Racing – Nicky Hayden’s Story

Posted on 10 Dec, 2014 by Scott Jones
Nicky Hayden Valencia wheelie Aspar Honda

Please click on the above image to view it larger.

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.

Nicky Hayden contributes a chapter to the book written mostly by his father, Earl. In addition to thoughts and memories about growing up racing motorcycles in the Hayden family, Nicky says this about his father’s attitude in the section titled “Passing It Down:”

“I would say the things he taught us were more about the basic fundamentals of racing that many people overlook, the little details that you can do easily.

“For instance, one of his big things was practice sessions. When we used to go to the road races in the early days, we might have a 20-minute practice session. If the session started at eight-thirty, but at eight-thirty we were still getting our helmets on and looking for our gloves and missed half the session, that was not gonna fly. If the practice started at eight-thirty, we needed to be at the gate at eight-thirty, helmet on, and ready to go. Which makes perfect sense. Don’t waste time.That would get him more upset than if we made a mistake.

“He was never the type of dad who was upset because we weren’t fast enough, as long as we were there and trying.

“Same way on the starts, he was always a big sticker on the starts. We could get a bad start, or wheelie on the start, or whatever. But he didn’t like it if we were—as he called it—”sleeping on the line,” because we were looking the other way when the light went green, or just not paying attention, or didn’t let the clutch out. He plays said, ‘You gotta get a good start.’ Or at least let the clutch out.

“Another thing, after all our races, he would record them, and we’d always come home and watch the video together. I can remember laughing about one of us getting a bad start and we would say, ‘You were sleeping on the line!’ Still to this day, we might say that about somebody caught sleeping on the line.”

As a father with one child old enough to participate in competitive sports, I am always looking for good examples of how to encourage my older daughter’s contributions to her swim team. I see other parents upset with their kids’ slow times at meets, and others who take the opposite approach of seeming not to care if their kids even pay attention to what’s happening.

I really like how Earl emphasizes this attention to the things his kids could control by choice and discipline, and not worrying to much about the race results themselves. He was instilling in his kids the fundamentals that would make them successful in the long term, not demanding short term accomplishments.

And now I have a new phrase for when my daughter is slow to respond to the starter’s BEEP. I expect she’ll get to know the expression sleeping on the line this season…

I encourage you to check this book out if you are a Hayden fan, or even just a fan of motorcycle racing. It’s available here on Amazon, or via the Hayden Family Store.

There’s also a nice promo video on YouTube.

©2014 by Scott Jones / PHOTO.GP – All Rights Reserved

Camera Info: Camera Info: Nikon D4 with Nikon 500mm f/4.0

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