Rider Spotlight: Hayden Gillim
NEWS April 5, 2012
Photo by Brian J. Nelson
AMAP: Where are you from?
HG: Owensboro, KY. I was born in Owensboro. We live in a town just outside of Owensboro, actually. It’s called Philpot.
AMAP: You’re very close to the Hayden brothers, as well as, other AMA Pro Road Racing riders, correct?
HG: Yes. JD Beach lives with us. He’s lived with us for the past 5-6 years. We’ve known each other since we were little kids. We met at the amateur nationals at Springfield. Nicky, Tommy and Roger have helped out a lot over the years too. They got us sponsors when we were growing up. Uncle Earl and Marty Hayden helped us get our first motorcycles. My first bike was a Honda XR50.
AMAP: How’d you get into racing motorcycles?
HG: My brothers and I went to a couple motorcycle races when we were younger. We saw our cousins Nicky, Roger and Tommy race at Mid-Ohio. When I first saw the race, I thought it was the coolest thing. From then on, I wanted to race motorcycles. For Christmas in 2000, we got our first motorcycles and started riding them in the snow.
AMAP: How has your start in riding motorcycles transitioned to what it is now?
HG: It’s been a really cool ride. I’ve gotten better with all the help from all my sponsors and Danny Walker who’s coached me over the years with the American Super Camp. For the past two years, I’ve been racing in the pro ranks, and it’s gone really well. I hope for a long career.
AMAP: This year, you’re riding for RoadRace Factory with Jake Gagne, JD Beach and Tomas Puerta. How’d Daytona go?
HG: It was an awesome weekend. Nothing went wrong with the bikes. No engine, electrical or any problems. Daytona is especially demanding on the motorcycle engines. We came out of there with a podium, and though we haven’t had a whole lot of time to get ready, I thought we did a great job as a team. We really wanted to just get through Daytona, get some top-five finishes and come out of there top-three in points, which I managed. Now we go into the rest of the season really strong and looking to win.
AMAP: What many fans don’t know is that you rode AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport road racing during the day and AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles Flat Track at night. Tell us how that went.
HG: It was stressful during the day to qualify for flat track and then run back and qualify for road racing. I was running back and forth. Once off the road race bike, I had to hustle over to flat track, put my four laps in there, and then hustle back to the road race course and do more laps there. Once road race settled down for the day, and I made the program for the flat track race, I got to cool down, collect myself, and prepare for the races that night. It was a really cool experience. Last year, I did the same thing, but didn’t do as well. This year, I got on the podium with a 2nd and 3rd place on flat track and got a podium finish on road race. I’m happy with how I did this year... It’s a very exciting feeling to get a podium finish each night on flat track and leave with the points lead. We’ll see how it goes.
AMAP: We’re just weeks out from the Big Kahuna Road Atlanta. Have you raced there before, or are excited to try it out?
HG: I’ve been there a few times, but haven’t been there in two-three years. I really like Road Atlanta, because it’s a very technical track, but has a lot of speed. I feel that I could do pretty well there, seeing how I’m a bigger guy, and I feel really good in the technical parts than just the speed. Anytime we go to a technical track, I look forward to it, because it suits me better. I like Road Atlanta, because it’s a really good track, it’s well known and the Hayden’s have done well there. There are also a lot of great fans that will be there. We’re only a few weeks out, so I’m going to keep training hard and get ready.
AMAP: Out of all the tracks you’ve raced at, which is your favorite?
HG: I’d have to say Mid-Ohio, because it’s really slick and wears on the tires a lot. It makes me feel like I’m flat tracking the way I get on the gas and have the rear end sliding around. I feel that every time I go there, I end up with some really good finishes, and most of the time, I end up with a win! Last year, I got my first win, so I’m excited to go back there and come out with some wins again.
AMAP: What expectations are you setting for yourself for 2012 with RoadRace Factory?
HG: I want to go out there and try to get podiums every weekend. With our team, we can get a lot of wins, and feel that we have a really good shot at fighting for the championship. Last year, I ended up 2nd in the championship to James Rispoli, so I want to get the championship under my belt. Last year was a really good learning experience, with the bikes and series. This year, I feel that I have enough experience under my belt to win races and the championship.
AMAP: What draws you to the sport? The thrill, competition or the speed?
HG: It’s definitely the adrenaline rush. Every time you get on the bike, your heart starts racing, and there’s also the speed factor. I love going fast. As long as I get to go over 100mph, I enjoy it. I’ve done this since I was 6 years old, and with the Hayden’s and my brothers racing their whole lives, it’s in my blood. It’s a family thing... while some have baseball and football, ours have motorsports. No matter what’s going on, we can go to the racetrack and be right there and battle for the lead. It’s a great sport to be a part of. On the competition side of things, there’s always someone that can be better than you at a track, so you’ve got to be prepared for anything and keep fighting. I can’t see myself doing anything else!
AMAP: Who’s your racing hero?
HG: Definitely Chris Carr. He was at American Super Camp helping teach me to ride a motorcycle better than what I always did. He also did some road racing and a great competitor and leader. He’s a great spokesman for our sport and a great person in general. Every time I see him, we have a little conversation and catch up. He’s a great guy. I also look up to Nicky, Tommy and Roger as they are part of the reason why I got into racing. Every time they’re racing, I hope to see them battling for the lead and going for the championship. It’s really cool with it being a family experience. Last year was cool having Tommy and Roger in the same class, but I can root for both of them to win this year.
Hayden would like to thank Bell Helmets, American Super Camp, Yamaha, Teknic Racing, Sidi Boots, Safety Impact Armor and everyone that’s helped him over the years.