Nicky Hayden, popularly known as the Kentucky Kid and ‘the nicest man in GP racing’, has been one of the finest and most talented sportsmen the world of motorsports have ever seen. He tragically passed away in a bicycle accident in 2017 which was a great loss. As a tribute to him, his number 69 will be declared as ‘retired’ from the premier Grand Prix.
It’s an undeniable fact that a sportsman’s number is extremely close to him/her. There could be a plethora of reasons to pick that specific number. To honor this and Hayden, his number 69 is going to be retired from the premier Grand Prix in April 2019 at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, in Austin, Texas.
This means that the number 69 cannot be used by any other GP racer on their race bikes ever. It will become the forever number of our beloved Nicky Hayden.
It isn’t the first time that we’ve seen such a heartwarming and appreciable gesture for Hayden. In 2018, the Circuit of the Americas named Turn 18 as ‘Hayden Hill’ in his honor. Also, in 2015, Hayden was made a ‘MotoGP Legend’ (the sport’s version of a Hall of Fame). Arai also paid homage to Hayden by launching new helmets.
Expressing his views towards Dorna’s beautiful gesture, Haydens’ father, Earl, said, “What a great honor it will be for Nicky’s #69 to be retired at Austin. It is very fitting that it will be done at the US race as these races meant so much to Nicky and he looked forward to them so much every year. For myself, in particular, this will be a very special event because the #69 was my number when I raced and I was very proud to see Nicky run the #69 on his bikes for his entire career.”
“On behalf of my entire family, I would like to say a special thanks to Dorna for honoring Nicky in this special way along with the many other gestures they have done to support us through the difficult times.”
Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, said, “I’m proud to announce that the number 69 will be retired from Grand Prix racing. Nicky Hayden was one of the biggest assets to this paddock and a fantastic example as a rider both on track and off. It gives me great pleasure to honor his legacy once again and ensure the number 69 remains synonymous with a legend and a Champion.”