Rider Spotlight: Roger Hayden
NEWS January 5, 2012
Photo by Brian J. Nelson
AMAPro: Where are you from?
RH: Owensboro, Kentucky. Born and raised here. Right now, it’s pretty cold, though. My brothers and I have a place in Orange County, California that we stay at during the winter months to train while it’s cold in Kentucky. Hopefully within the next week or two, I’ll head that way. I take about six weeks to two months to really get into shape for the upcoming season. I hope both of them arrive, because it’s always nice to have them to train with. We always push each other, so that helps.
AMAPro: What was your first motorcycle?
RH: PW50. I had it for a while, and had a Z50 too. After those two bikes, I moved up on the dirt bike chain from 60s, to 80s, to 125s…
AMAPro: How did you get into riding motorcycles?
RH: My dad used to race a long time ago as a hobby. When he had kids, we grew up on a farm, so we had plenty of space to ride motorcycles and stuff. We started out as a family/weekend race deal, but it then came to where my oldest brother looked like he had the talent to be a professional. It started off as a hobby, but moved up from there.
AMAPro: Having Tommy and Nicky as your brothers must have made for a pretty competitive childhood, huh?
RH: Yeah, I don’t know if it’s because we started out so young, or if we always had someone to ride with to push you further, but all three of us were blessed with some very good God-given talent. I was six when I first started riding, Tommy was two, and Nicky was about four or five. Tommy had a PW50 with training wheels. In grade school, we did all the basketball, football and stuff, but we knew that we wanted to be motorcycle racers.
AMAPro: You raced Flat Track.. Do you think that helped you in Road Racing?
RH: I think it helps. It hurts in some ways, but helps way more. It teaches you how to slide the bike, which can help you when your tires aren’t the best, or when conditions aren’t the greatest. I think you learn throttle control too. You can learn a few bad habits like turning into the corners too early, because in flat track racing, you don’t want to anyone passing you on the inside of a turn. Mainly, it helps a lot because I was able to learn all this at such a young age. Even today, we ride flat track for training. Sometimes we go months between riding a streetbike. Other athletes are able to practice their sport much easier than us. When we go to properly test, we bring out the transporter, whole team, and have to rent a big track like Daytona or Homestead-Miami Speedway. In Motocross or Supercross, you can build a track out of dirt, and you’re set.
AMAPro: How was your time at Homestead-Miami Speedway?
RH: It was really good, actually. It was nice to go to a new track, as well as, add a new venue to the 2012 schedule, especially a place like Homestead. It’s a really nice facility, so I think it’s a very big and new venue compared to some other tracks I’ve been too. I’m excited because I think there will be a big turnout. There were so many fans that contacted me on Facebook and Twitter when we were testing a short while ago; just excited to come out and watch us race. We’ve never been that far south in Florida, even though we race in Daytona, Homestead is far away, so there will be a lot of new fans that will come out and watch us race.
AMAPro: What's your favorite racetrack?
RH: Malaysia. We went there and tested the Kawasaki World Superbike. It’s such a big track and had everything: long straights, tight switch backs, 4th gear turns, 1st gear turns, everything! It was like a two-something minute lap time.
AMAPro: What's the coolest bike you've ridden?
RH: A MotoGP bike, just because they’re so fast. Things come up so fast on that bike, it’s probably the hardest bike I’ve ever ridden, but you can do so much on it. I got to go to the Kawasaki test track and spend the whole day testing their GP bike. Not everyone gets to ride a GP bike, so as a kid, you always want to ride one, and I did... two actually! The brakes take a while to get used to. You have to trust them, but it’s hard to do. When I rode the Kawasaki MotoGP bike, you feel like they’re not working, but then they come on stronger and stronger… so you have to trust them.
AMAPro: What draws you to the sport? The competition, thrill or speed?
RH: The competition. Trying to do the best, having a goal to get better and waking up in the morning and working towards a goal that might be over two months away is what does it for me!
AMAPro: What’s a typical day like for you, when you’re not at the track?
RH: Well, when I go to California, I try to ride my dirt bike a few days a week, then run when I get home for 30-35 minutes. Other days, I ride my bicycle and go to the gym. I don’t do any body building, but more muscle fatigue. After lunch, I answer calls, emails, speak with the team and all that.
AMAPro: What are your expectations going into 2012 with Michael Jordan Motorsports and the National Guard?
RH: The number one thing is to win a race. I haven’t won yet, so it’s going to be my first goal. I hope it happens early, and then by the middle of the season, we can aim for the championship.
AMAPro: Who’s your racing hero?
RH: When I grew up racing, Kenny Roberts was the king, but the guy who I really loved was Ronnie Jones. An AMA Pro Flat Track racer. I don’t know why I chose him, but I bought his t-shirt every year, got his number plate after a race and put it on my bicycle.
What's your take?
Who do you think has the coolest looking Yamaha R6 paint scheme? Is it AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike rider Cameron Beaubier, Monster Energy/Graves' Josh Herrin or soon to be Daytona SportBike rookie Garrett Gerloff?
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