We have an appreciation for racers who started out with modest equipment and banged bars all the way to the top. We like seeing champions whose past includes hard-fought wins on family-owned bikes with hand-painted number plates.  Nicky Hayden fits the bill of a guy with humble beginnings in motorcycle racing, but that’s not to discredit the Hayden family’s effort. While they may not have had millions of dollars to sink into a team and crew, they had the tenacity and heart to help pave their way to today’s success.

Nicky’s game face hasn’t changed much and his inherited number 69 is still around, although the decals have come a long way.

We took at look at Nicky’s new website and found the “Early Days” photo album; it reminded us of how much history he has accumulated in motorcycle racing even though he’s just outside of his twenties. To illustrate our level of “man, that’s cool,” we’ve gleaned pics from his site and various searches to create some then-and-now perspective.

From bow ties to Tissot watches, Nicky isn’t one to shy away from wearing nice accessories.

Means of transporting equipment has changed quite a bit. On the Earl’s Racing Team trailer, we spotted Tri-State Yamaha in the “Thanks to” list. That’s the Evansville, Indiana shop where we bought our first ATV in 1983 (a Tri-zinger 60).

As Midwestern guys, we feel partial to the Kentucky Kid, but regardless of geography, this is a racer who lives, eats, and breathes racing no matter what kind of bike he’s on or whose leathers he’s wearing. For that reason, we’re fans.

If you like Nicky, check out these other Good Spark features:
Behind the Scenes with Nicky Hayden at Indy Motor Speedway

Nicky Hayden’s Inaugural Lap at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

 

Vintage photos found at NickyHayden.com from the Hayden Family Collection.

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