Rider Spotlight: Tommy Hayden

NEWS June 21, 2012


Rider Spotlight: Tommy Hayden

Photo by Brian J. Nelson

AMAP: Where are you from?
TH: Owensboro, Kentucky. I was born and raised here. My parents still live in the first house I’ve ever lived in. Now, I live probably two-three miles from where I grew up. I haven’t moved far..

AMAP: How did you get into riding motorcycles?
TH: I got involved through my dad. He was a flat track racer for quite a while. He did some road racing, but mainly flat track. Then, as we were growing up, he got us started on the best entry level possible with 50cc dirtbikes. We went from there and it escalated to our professional careers.

AMAP: Do you get to do any riding in the off-season or when you’re not at a AMA Pro event?
TH: I mainly ride at our house and a few other places. I like motocross as well. I grew up riding flat track and still enjoy riding it. We have some tracks at my dad’s house to ride at whether it’s the off-season or between races. It’s still fun when my brothers are home. We get together with some other people that ride and have some fun.

AMAP: Along with your brothers, many riders in the road racing paddock have a flat track background. What do you think are some benefits of having that?
TH: I think the biggest benefit is getting started earlier. You can develop your skills, get more seat time and learn race type situations at a younger age than you would road racing. I think it’s the most cost effective way to grow your motorcycle riding and racing skills. As you get older, I think it helps too, because you can’t always take your streetbike to a racetrack and practice whenever you want. It helps you stay sharp with your basic motorcycle riding skills. In all, there are several benefits.

AMAP: You’ve been competing in AMA Pro for a long time and have raced in many classes. In comparison to riding in the National Guard SuperBike Class, what’s it like riding in the GoPro Daytona SportBike class?
TH: It was definitely a big challenge for me, especially at the last second with no testing. I’m still adapting, but I don’t feel like I’m 100% where I’m at and where I want to be on the racetrack just yet. It’s been fun and a learning experience. I rode for the same team for quite a few years and worked with a good group of guys that had a good relationship together. This year, when I got the opportunity to ride for Yamaha Extended Service/Graves/Yamaha, it’s been fun, but certainly a challenge. I hope to get things figured out a little better and put together even stronger results.

AMAP: With the series headed to Barber Motorsports Park this weekend, what are your thoughts on the track? Is it a racetrack you’re excited to visit?
TH: For sure. I really enjoy Barber. It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks. I had a good finish there last year, and felt that I had the speed to win both SuperBike races. I had a little bad luck with a motor failure and the weather, but I’m ready to get on the box and even get a win there this year.

AMAP: You had Blake Young as your teammate in 2011 and now have Cameron Beaubier as your teammate this season. With the age difference between the two riders, do you feel like you’ve stepped into a different role as a teammate?
TH: Not a lot. I feel like it’s an advantage to have a competitive and fast teammate. Both of them sure have that. Blake is definitely a little more experienced, but they’re both young when compared to me with a lot of talent that are trying to build their careers and lock in their talent. I enjoy working with them. There are some things they do that I can learn from, like their enthusiasm and capabilities. Sometimes with my experience, I hope I’m able to give back and help a little bit on some things as well. In both situations, it’s a good environment, and I hope to continue like that for the rest of the year.

AMAP: Riding in GoPro Daytona SportBike that has more experienced riders like Martin Cardenas, Jason DiSalvo and Jake Zemke, what are your thoughts on the up-and-comers in the class?
TH: Racing’s racing. Obviously, there are some young and inexperienced guys that you can see in the things they do and in their decision making. It’s not their fault; they just lack the experience, but are trying to make a name for themselves. That’s a good thing to see. We have a lot of talent in our series, and it doesn’t matter what class you ride in, there’s going to be a challenge. I prefer SuperBike. I believe that’s where my strength lies, and I’d like to get back to it. I’ve been enjoying riding in Daytona SportBike though. I want to make the most of the rest of my time in it for the rest of the year.

AMAP: It has to be good knowing that you have a ride for the rest of the season with Yamaha Extended Service /  Graves / Yamaha. Talk about your time with them so far this season.
TH: My experience has been great. We were both put in a little bit of a tough situation with the circumstances of Garrett getting hurt. It was a little tricky for the both of us to get up to speed and learn about each other to make the bike fast. It wasn’t the easiest thing, but the team’s been great by giving me the support I need, and are willing to do anything. That’s all you can ask for. Like I said, I’ve really enjoyed my time there. I’ve enjoyed the team, and I want to pay them back with some race wins and some solid results in the remainder of the season.

AMAP: What draws you to the sport? The thrill, competition or the speed?
TH: It’s not one thing in particular I think. It’s several little things that I like. I love the competition, trying to improve yourself, your speed and your motorcycle. Every aspect of it for me is really motivating. It makes me excited to get out of bed and be a better person. It’s all I’ve ever known, but I enjoy it now probably more so than ever. It’s in my blood.

AMAP: What goals or expectations are you setting for yourself for the rest of the season?
TH: At this point, I want to win some races. Come the end of the year and I haven’t won any races, I’d be pretty disappointed. I feel like I have the team, the bike and I believe I have the ability to do it. It’s just a matter of us working together and putting everything together to make it happen. Now that I know I’ll be finishing out the season with Yamaha Extended Service / Graves / Yamaha, I can work on some stuff and hopefully step it up starting this weekend.

AMAP: Who’s your racing hero?
TH: When I was a kid, I might’ve had some heroes, but now I’m not really sure I really have any in particular that I call are racing heroes. You look up to the world racing champions that you know of, but I have so much respect for so many people in this sport. I wouldn’t call them my heroes, but I have a deep appreciation of their talent and hard work. I love watching them.

Click here to view photos of Tommy from the 2012 season on AMA Pro Road Racing's facebook page


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