There is perhaps no greater tribute in sports than the retiring of an athlete’s number, and that honor will be put upon the late Nicky Hayden at this year’s Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
As such, the iconic number for the Kentucky Kid will forever be his, as no other grand prix racer will be allowed to run the number “69” on their race bikes in competition after the event.
The move is a continuing tribute to Hayden, who tragically passed away in 2017 during a cycling accident.
Hayden entered the MotoGP Championship in 2003, where he took two podium finishes. He won his first grand prix race in 2005, and the following year won the MotoGP Championship title.
Known both for his on-track skill and off-track personality, he was one of the most beloved riders in the sport, and clearly is still dearly missed by two-wheeled racing enthusiasts around the world.
“What a great honor it will be for Nicky’s #69 to be retired at Austin,” said Hayden’s father, Earl. “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 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.”
“I’m proud to announce that the number 69 will be retired from Grand Prix racing,” added Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports.
“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 honour his legacy once again and ensure the number 69 remains synonymous with a legend and a Champion.”