Number 69 Retired in Tribute to Nicky Hayden

Back in January, Dorna announced that number 69 would be retired from racing, as a mark of respect for the late, 2006 MotoGP champion.

Nicky Hayden spent his entire career – from grassroots series, all the way up to MotoGP – riding under this number.

Dorna CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta, stated at the ceremony that “Since the beginning, after we lost him, we thought it’s something we must do. Nicky was something special for all us, his behavior was really fantastic.”

 

“Nicky had a lot of success on track, but I think we all agree he made just as big an impact off the track and everyone’s lives – whether friends, family or fans. That’s something we are most proud of.”
– Tommy Hayden

Nicky Hayden’s family, surrounding his championship winning bike. (Credit: MotoGP.com)

 

Further to the official ceremony, Hayden’s 2006 championship winning bike was on display for fans at COTA’s turn 18. This part of the track has been affectionately renamed “Hayden Hill”.

This ceremony comes after Nicky was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2018.

 

Who is Nicky Hayden? A look back at his career…

Joining MotoGP in 2003, Hayden burst on to the scene with his fun-loving attitude, joking nature and, most importantly, serious speed!

In his first season, Nicky was invited to join leading team Repsol Honda, to ride alongside reigning world champion, Valentino Rossi. He finished fifth in the championship and, thanks to impressive performances, secured the title of “Rookie of the Year”. He then landed his first race win at the Laguna Seca GP in 2005.

Then, in 2006, came Hayden’s finest year as he ended his team-mates 5-year-long streak of Championship titles. He led the way for much of the season – taking command of the standings after only the third race. However, he was forced to fight back after an incident with Dani Pedrosa, at the penultimate race, left him eight points behind Rossi.

 

Moments after crossing the line and securing the 2006 title. (Credit: MotoGP.com)

 

Two further years with Repsol Honda were followed by five, sadly unsuccessful season with Ducati before he finished his MotoGP career with two years at Honda Aspar.

Making the switch to join World Superbikes for the 2016 season saw Nicky quickly return to his winning ways on the Red Bull Honda machine. He finished fifth in the championship after securing a brilliant win at the Malaysian GP and three additional podium finishes.

On the 17th of May 2017, Nicky was training in Italy after the recent Italian GP. He was hit by a car whilst cycling and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He died in hospital, five days later, aged 35.

 

(Credit: MotoGP.com)

 

Why did Nicky choose number 69?

Despite its connotations, Nicky, in fact, chose the number as it had been used by his father, Earl Hayden, who was also a racer. It was previously used by both of his brothers, during their own careers. This then allowed them the option to use each other’s machines if one happened to break down during a weekend of racing – so rumour says.

It is said that Earl originally chose the number after crashing a lot, stating that people could still read the number, even if the bike was upside down.

Nicky spent just one year without the number 69 on the front of his bike. In 2017, after winning the MotoGP World Championship, he traded it for number 1.

 

(Credit: MotoGP.com)

 

Who else has ridden under the number 69?

  • Roger De Coster – a professional Motorcross racer and is now Motorsport Director of KTM. He won five 500cc titles under the number 69.
  • Jimmy Gaddis – secured the 1991 125cc Supercross Championship, and later two AMA Arenacross Championships whilst adorned with the number 69
  • Ernesto Fonseca – a hugely successful Supercross and Motorcross rider who used number 69 throughout his career
  • Carlo Coen used number 69 in 1996 during his American Motorcross and Supercross careers
  • Doug Henry was adorned with number 69 in 1990 before going on to become a three-time AMA Motorcross champion
  • Kent Howerton rode with number 69 in 1989 after winning three AMA national championships, including the 500cc title in 1976 and the 250cc title in 1980 and 1981
  • Rodney Smith, now a Motorcross Hall of Fame inductee, used number 69 on his bike in 1983 before going on to win five Brazilian MX championships and a further 13 AMA National championships

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP.com


Posted on 15th April, 2019 for The Checkered Flag

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Lee McKenzie: “You have to be prepared for anything in live TV”

Lee McKenzie has been a leading figure in the F1 paddock for many years now. In this exclusive interview for Overtake Motorsport, we get a sense of Lee’s role and her experiences in the paddock.

 

Lee’s journalistic career began at an early age, providing club rugby reports to her local newspaper, aged just 15. Shadowing her father, also a sporting journalist, Lee built up the knowledge and passion which placed her in the career she is in today. “I always have been involved in sport and Fleet Street journalism through my family. I always knew this was the plan, not on TV but writing initially which I still love.”

 

Most Overtake Motorsport readers will know Lee solely as a Formula 1 commentator, but her job has, and continues to, involves all manner of events.

“People see me as a Motorsport person but I started as a news journalist which is what everyone should do, no matter where you want to end up. I covered the Lockerbie Trial, general elections etc. A journalist needs to be experienced as that with an ability to see news lines, too many are simply fans. For the last few years I have missed F1 races to cover other sports. I love Wimbledon and rugby and they would be my favourites. Events like the Olympics, commonwealth games are incredible events too.”

 

But as for her motorsport career, Lee plays a vital role within the Channel 4 presenting team, taking the role as pit lane reporter. “There is no such thing as an average day,” Lee told us when discussing her job. “Thursday is the day to get all the driver interviews done. Every Thursday afternoon is split into 10 minute blocks and all journalists get to speak to the drivers.” If the coverage is live, Lee will present all three practise sessions, before returning to the pitlane for drivers interviews during qualifying. “Sunday is by far the easiest day and takes care of its self!
When asked what, if anything, surprises Lee about her career, she simply replies by saying “you have to be prepared for anything in live TV!”

This lead me to question if this always Lee’s career aim, or did she fall into thanks to her family’s involvement? It would seem both are true! “I have been in the F1 paddock since I was in my early teens so I am very used to that environment. I also started as a journalist, writing for local newspapers when I was 15! I did go to uni but continued to work in newspapers during that whole experience.”

 

So I ended my interview the way I end them all, asking Lee which three Motorsport figures she would invite to a fantasy dinner party.

“Senna – I never met him but my Dad knew him and was at the funeral. I know the Senna family so would love to have met Ayrton.
Jim Clark – a humble man by all accounts and would love to have met him. So different to today’s drivers!
Seb – always great fun, intelligent and good company. If I have no chat with the others then I could chat to him although he would have plenty to talk about with those two!”

 

Lee will be back in action, alongside her Channel 4 comrades, when F1 returns from the summer break, in Spa-Francorchamps on the 27th of August.

Feature Image Credit: Lee Mckenzie’s Website


First published on 5th August 2017 for Overtake Motorsport.

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Nicki Shields: “We call ourselves the Formula E Family”

In an exclusive interview for Overtake Motorsport, Nicki chats about the future and innovations of Formula E, as well as her recent time at Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Nicki’s own twitter bio proclaims her to be a “car fanatic”, and this passion shone through as soon as our Motorsport chat began. Since it’s inaugural season, Nicki has been in the pit lane of every Formula E race, so who better to chat with regarding the effect this formula has had and where its future lies.

Since the first ever testing session at Donnington Park, where these all electric racecars took to the track for the first time, Nicki has been “splitting [herself] into three people at once- managing to do the Channel 5 show, the CNN show and the Formula E show” at every race weekend. So I began by asking her how the sport has evolved since it began.

 

We got to Beijing, in September 2014, and we had an incredible race with 20 cars on track, with a big finale when Nick Heifeld practically summersaulted across the track with Nico Prost. And all of a sudden, Formula E was in the headlines and everyone was talking about it. So yes, we started with a bang, shall we say!
And from then on, every race and every season [has] just massively built momentum. It really hasn’t sat still. And every time, a race is more smooth in terms of an organisation perspective, the tracks are better, the locations are getting better.

 

Formula E is still a very new motorsport championship, with many changes already agreed upon for future seasons. I asked Nicki how she would like to see the sport evolving, and her hopes were simple – “I want it to become a mainstream sport. At the moment it is very much still a niche.” Similarly to her own experiences, Nicki admits that this electric racing formula has “converted some pure petrol heads, because they just love racing”. She also agrees that the sport has attracted new fans to the racing world. These are the “more forward thinking, trail blazers who are interested in that electric power train. I think Formula E has done really well at engaging with younger fans through social media.”

One of the ways that Formula E is already moving forward will be seen in Season 5, as the car batteries will last for the entire race. This eliminates the need for a pit stop for the drivers to move to a second car. However, when I asked Nicki which one regulation she would alter, if she was in charge of the sport, she touched on this idea. “I think we should still maintain a pitstop, because it is fun and adds a bit of strategy into the mix. I think if we don’t have a pitstop then it takes out some of the tactics and some of the strategy and I enjoy having that.

 

Given the impact such a new formula, with the first three races alone drawing in 56 million TV viewers, I asked Nicki what other racing series could learn from Formula E.

Considering it is a FIA world championship, [Formula E] is a very friendly, open and supportive environment. Everyone is supporting each other. And that goes down from mechanics, across teams, to PR to broadcasters and drivers. Everyone gets one really well and supports each other. We call ourselves the Formula E family and it really does feel like that! We are all this travelling family and you can feel that in the pitlane.
I think maybe with some other championships you are pitted against each other more and it doesn’t have quite the same atmosphere. And obviously, if everyone that works there really enjoys it and really enjoys the atmosphere then that flows through to the fans and to everyone watching it.

This self proclaimed “car fanatic” had recently spent the weekend at Goodwood Festival of Speed, prior to our conversation. So I simply had to ask her what her highlights had been! She began by telling me about interviewing Niki Lauda as he was reunited with the Brabham, “fan” car. “Hearing of the tales of when he first drove that car and what it was like and how bonkers it was, was really nice to hear

She then went on to tell me about how Jackie Stewart “dissed [her] fashion sense”. Nicki explained how “he was wearing a racing suit from in period – those super cotton racing suits that weren’t really fire proof at all, but then he had these Nike Air’s on” which lead to many jokes and banter.

 

So I ended my interview the way I end them all, asking Nicki which three Motorsport figures she would invite to a fantasy dinner party.

Michael Schumacher – just because there’s so many unanswered questions that we would have the chance to ask him about.
Probably Ayerton Senna – again just because he’s an ultimate legend.
I’d either go for someone like Sir Stirling Moss because he’s a total legend and he’s hysterical […] or someone cheeky like Daniel Ricciardo or Max Verstappen just to mix it up a little bit! That would be seriously fun!

 

You can watch Nicki in the pitlane when Formula E returns for season 4, in Hong Kong, on the 2nd and 3rst of December.

 

Feature Image Credit: FIA Formula E Media site. 


First published on 31st July, 2017 for Overtake Motorsport

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