MotoGP: The family of rock stars

Written by Staff Writer at CNN

“I was never going to be a pop star. I was never going to be a biker. I’m the antithesis of those things,” the businessman and music lover who just so happens to race in MotoGP, Nicky Hayden says.

Riding across Europe and the United States on a Ducati TK750 this year, the 31-year-old American has looked much the more accustomed to his brand of entertainment than those pop stars and bikers.

It’s quite a change from the two months of training required to be a sports star.

But what is it about the pinnacle of motorcycling that appeals to the most attractive, popular rider in the world?

“The way that people tell me, their kids want to be me,” he says. “That is the most important thing.

“Maybe in some strange way, with a bike, you don’t have to look so much, you can get caught up more in the moment, in the passion of the sport. So that comes from a very different place.”

Nothing but smooth, enjoyable

There’s no other way to put it: Mr. MotoGP is just naturally good at what he does.

Made this year after being appointed by the World Motor Sport Council as co-promoter and coach of the annual track day for the MotoGP championship, the impassioned Pirelli World Superbike racer still makes mistakes. The amount of times it happens, though, gives him a unique perspective from the driving seat of the world’s number one racers — he wants everyone to know that he doesn’t race to win — and he appreciates the humbling nature of the lessons he’s learned.

One of the main topics of debate at the MotoGP event, held at Dubai’s indoor circuit in September, was the regulation number that can be on a MotoGP race bike.

A two-horse race has existed for decades. That nature has meant that similar bikes have worn the same number on the same track. In many ways it says so much about the way motorcycling has developed.

This year though, Lorenzo’s Honda bike has number 2 on the block, and that’s all that matters to Nicky Hayden.

He also inherited the legendary family name of his father — one of the more decorated MotoGP drivers of all time. They’re so different, yet the experience that comes with having the Hayden family association was overwhelming and sometimes surreal.

“It was surreal. It was just strange, the whole thing, the whole weekend,” Nicky says. “It was like a huge party and I didn’t want to leave that party. The water, the food, the people, all the legends, the present and past, the memories, it was special.”

‘A huge prize to win’

Despite the charisma of living the good life, there are one of the same sacrifices the Hayden family made when their father was racing, something that’s still not on Nicky’s radar.

A fixture in the MotoGP field for almost 20 years, Hayden competed in a championship that he first walked onto as a fan almost ten years ago.

With 10 victories in the new series behind him, he’s now able to look at the reasons why the sport is so dominant in so many parts of the world. It’s clear that he’s very much in the hospitality business when it comes to motorcycling — and the prize is big.

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