View Full Version : Nicky and Hayden Family Stories

Chuck Ergle
05-24-2017, 01:03 PM
For us old timers when the Hayden brothers were little and were racing with us and doing WERA Nationals and the GNF.

I'll get it started: early 90s and YSRs ruled the small classes (50 production and 50 superbike in CMRA); big grids and hairball racing were the norms in P50, and most of the time you could throw a blanket over the top ten bikes as they drafted and tried to out-corner each other using all 7 horsepower. Everybody was friends and we had a great time. The Haydens showed up in the Earl's Racing Team box van and the kids weighed at least 50 pounds less than some racers and 100 pounds less than most, so they accelerated a lot faster off the line and out of corners. Tommy was oldest and biggest, but Nicky was so small that Earl or Recil Hart (the Earl's Racing Team mechanic) had to hold him up and he started from the back of the grid; it didn't really matter because usually by turn 2 he'd be up with the leaders.

At the start of a sprint race at Oak Hill one time, the lead pack went into turn one (double apex left hander, and very fast at speed on a big bike) and everybody went for the first apex to shorten the course and get a lead draft going for the slightly uphill run to turn two. I was in the lead pack and trying to get to the inside first, when Chris Reed and I got together (he still vehemently disputes how this happened). Chris hit me in the left front and I think he hit my front brake lever; I was down instantly and tumbling, but I don't think anybody else went down. I got back to the pits with a seriously bruised right hip among other things, and about five minutes after the race Nicky came up to me, his eyes wide and a little smile on his face:
"Dude, I was right behind you when you crashed, and your bike flew RIGHT OVER MY HEAD!! It was cool!"

Every time I see Earl, he apologizes for not putting extra weight on the kids bikes back then to make things more even. Good people and those crazy kids were a blast to be around.

Chuck Ergle
05-24-2017, 07:27 PM
So here's another one: a lot of people used to stay at the Holiday Inn, which then became the Henderson Inn, in Henderson when we'd race at Oak Hill; the motel was on the highway (I think 79), and the building was between the pool and the highway. I remember several of us (Mike Carter, Tommy Hickman, Greg Abbott, Barbie Spears, etc.) would always wind down after the races on Saturday at the pool when the weather was nice, and we'd be doing the 1-2-3 toss thing with Nicky and Roger Lee (I think Tommy was too big at that time). I do also remember that the Hayden kids had a water balloon slingshot; as I remember Nicky and Roger Lee would hold it, and Tommy would pull it back as far as he could, then launch a water balloon over the building at the highway, hoping to hit a car; I don't know if they ever did, but the building in the way gave them "plausible deniability".

There was also the time, at the GNF at Road Atlanta, that the rumor was the Hayden kids had broken into the poolside storage shed at the Admiral Benbow Inn, and somehow all the furniture ended up in the pool. No witnesses...

Tyler Raboin
05-24-2017, 10:05 PM
These are great. Thanks for sharing!

Joseph Caruso
05-25-2017, 09:28 AM
These need to go to RRW or be placed on WorldSBK.com or heck even facebook to be shared. Thanks for sharing these! Nicky was undoubtedly a stand up guy. He will be missed.

Eric Falt
05-25-2017, 10:20 AM
It was 1992, at the Grand National Finals in Atlanta. Laroy Montgomery had JUST finished building my Rotax 600 motor in a Honda Interceptor 500 frame bike on Monday. ( we left for GA. on Tuesday, the next day!) Earl had just got some GP 125 two strokes for Nicky and Tommy to ride. ( I think it was their first time on the bigger bikes). The youngsters were about 11 and 12 at this time, and started from the back of the pack. They made it all the up to 2nd and third , by the end of the race! Lucky me had a big enough start to win that day. We all went to Applebees afterward for dinner. Just a down to earth family , with great hearts!!! :+1:

Russell Medack
05-25-2017, 08:59 PM
Such a tight family. This is how "kids" are suppose to be.

Scott Finning
05-26-2017, 01:23 PM
These need to go to RRW or be placed on WorldSBK.com or heck even facebook to be shared. Thanks for sharing these! Nicky was undoubtedly a stand up guy. He will be missed.

Joe..done and done..


Dennie Spears
05-28-2017, 02:06 PM
I had a shop in College Station back in the early days and Earl and the gang stopped by on their way to TWS. I had a new 18 or 19 year old mechanic, Ray Holder, that had just torn down his first motorcycle engine and he had placed every part on an 8 foot long bench, in the order that they had been removed from the engine. Some even had numbered pieces of paper taped to them. I was talking to Earl at the parts counter and Ray walked through and said, "I'm going home," and walked out the door. Ray NEVER came in late, missed work or left early. I looked into the shop and there was Roger Lee using a long magnet to drag engine parts around Ray's workbench.

Chris Newhouse
06-02-2017, 10:01 PM
I remember nickey always stopped by our pits in oak hill just to say hi. my friend was racing a Honda 125 in his class. I also remember their van at the mini gp races at katy, can you imagine they would drive all that way just to race minis? is this taking advantage of all opportunities to race? never did figure out how they fit it all in that van. he will be missed

Chuck Ergle
06-03-2017, 02:22 PM
Oak Hill Raceway (old timers should at this time face Northeast Texas and have a moment of silence...) had 8 turns. Turn 7, aka "Schoolhouse turn" (the tiny rotting prefab building where Rider's School used to sit just outside the turn next to the concession stand) was a severely decreasing radius left hander (the apex was pretty much at the start of the short straight that went to turn 8); the track at that point was pretty narrow, with no outer curbing and slippery grass growing right up to the asphalt. You could get in pretty hot, but had to have it whoa'd down enough to turn at the apex; if you did it right, as you were gassing it up and getting upright, you were near the edge of the track pointing down the straight.

This was in the early 90s, right after Nicky and Tommy were on Honda RS125s from Moto Liberty: I was standing in turn 7 with some other people watching the races (it was a good place---close to the track with a good view of people either getting it right or getting it WAY wrong). It was the Formula 3 race, and Nicky came up the rise from turn 6 and entered 7 too fast. The little RS125s were pure magic through corners, but not THAT magic! It looked like Nicky had screwed it up, cuz at the apex he was still pointed pretty much to where he was going to run off the outside. As he was exiting, he moved his butt left off the seat then moved HARD over to the right against the seat edge, and the rear of the bike kicked over about 6-8 inches; he did this again a half a second later, then stood 'er up at the very edge of the track and gassed it down to the next corner. It was pretty amazing to watch and not something I would ever think to do!