One of our most treasured hometown heroes, Nicky Hayden – who was also known as “The Kentucky Kid” in the motosports world – was born and raised right here in Owensboro.
The racing world lost one of its greatest athletes when Hayden was killed in a bicycle crash in Italy in 2017. Hayden had risen to fame after winning his first Grand National Championship in 1999 and being named Rookie of the Year.
In 2002, Hayden set a record in becoming the youngest rider to become an AMA Superbike Champion and was immediately propelled into the Moto GP circuit’s premier league.
As if Hayden wasn’t already impressive enough, he joined the Repsol Honda Team in 2003, where he earned Rookie of the Year accolades for Moto GP and, in 2006, he won the Moto GP Championship.
He was the last American to do so.
Here in Owensboro, we celebrate Nicky Hayden all the time. Not only was he a great racer, but a great person who cared deeply about others. The Nicky Hayden Apartments were built in 2020 to serve as temporary housing for those trying to better their lives after seeking rehabilitation for drugs and alcohol addiction. Owensboro celebrates Nicky Hayden Day every year with an event dedicated to Hayden on June 9, and many events are dedicated to and held by the Nicky Hayden Foundation – an organization with the goal of helping children in various ways.
And one of Owensboro’s most beautiful statues depicts both Hayden’s loving persona and love for racing. The Nicky Hayden Memorial was erected in front of the Owensboro Convention Center in 2018. Standing 10 feet tall, it is reminiscent of Hayden’s legendary win at Laguna Seca in 2005, and it’s the perfect way to remember and reflect back on everything “The Kentucky Kid” achieved as one of the greatest racers to hit the pavement.