DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (December 29, 2021) – Progressive American Flat Track offers its condolences to the family and friends of Earl Hayden, patriarch of the fabled Hayden family, who passed away today following a long battle with cancer. He was 74 years old.
The news will be deeply felt across the two-wheeled racing community. Hayden was a universally beloved figure whose presence graced dirt track and roadracing paddocks across the globe for decades.
A dirt track racer for some twenty years, Hayden brandished the #69 himself before it became synonymous with his late son (and 2006 MotoGP World Champion) Nicky. The story of its origins (Earl claimed he had to choose a number that read the same whether he was upright or upside down) remains an eternal reminder of Earl’s legendary sense of humor.
As a father, Earl fostered an environment that produced three of the most successful and popular motorcycle racers of the past generation. Along with Nicky’s crowning achievement on the world stage, he and his brothers, Tommy and Roger, were each AMA national roadracing champions. Additionally, all three were top flight dirt trackers; Nicky and Tommy boasted premier class Grand National Champion race victories, and Roger joined them on the podium in a historic all-Hayden sweep of the podium at the 2002 Springfield TT.
There was a direct line connecting their combined success to the incredible support and many sacrifices of Earl and his wife, Rose, who together moved mountains with regularity to ensure their children had every possible opportunity to maximize their potential.
Rather than run dry, that well of generosity spilled out beyond just his immediate family, as Hayden served as a mentor and supporter of countless other aspiring racers, particularly those from the Owensboro, Kentucky area.
He is survived by his wife Rose, sons Tommy and Roger, daughters Jenny and Kathleen, and his grandchildren. Nicky preceded him in death following a tragic bicycling accident in 2017.
Earl’s good nature, gravelly voice, and easy smile will be sorely missed.