In recognition of his last professional motorcycle race, Roger Hayden was given a proper farewell and send-off Sunday afternoon at Barber Motorsports Park in the final race of the 2018 MotoAmerica season.
On the final lap of his 20-year career in American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) roadracing, all the teams in the paddock lined the pit wall to honor Hayden and cheer him on as he crossed the finish line for the last time.
Race winner and Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing teammate Toni Elias gave Hayden a shout out from the podium.
“Congrats to Roger on an amazing career,” Elias said. “He is a good teammate and a great racer. I will miss him.”
Hayden finished eighth in the MotoAmerica Superbike round two race Sunday after running off the track in the hairpin turn No. 5 on the opening lap. He spent the rest of race gaining ground, passing two more riders in the final laps.
After the podium celebrations, MotoAmerica invited Hayden to the podium one last time for photos with his Suzuki team and family members.
Fellow Owensboro Superbike rider Jake Lewis finished fifth Sunday afternoon, just as he did Saturday.
In the Supersport race earlier in the day, it was a repeat of Saturday’s round one race results with Hayden Gillim crossing the line .029 seconds ahead of JD Beach for a fantastic photo finish. Gillim started from the pole position and lead the entire race until the last lap, when Beach finally caught Gillim, the two exchanging leads in a back-and-forth battle to the checkered flag.
Hayden is retiring after the 2018 season. His 20-year professional career includes an AMA Supersport championship in 2007 (after finishing second in 2004 and 2005), Superbike Rookie of the Year in 2006 and 2017 AMA Superbike championship runner-up, as well as two wildcard appearances in MotoGP (2007 and 2010) and regular appearances in World Superbike in 2010.
A LOOK BACK
According to a MotoAmerica release in July announcing Hayden’s retirement, Roger grew up in a racing family in Owensboro, and followed in the footsteps of older brothers Tommy and Nicky. Both his father and mother (Earl and Rose) raced as well as his two sisters Kathleen and Jenny. Roger entered his first race at the age of 6 and was already a nationally-known rider by the time he turned pro in 1999 because he’d won races in the amateur ranks in both flat track and road racing.
The massive success enjoyed by all three Haydens made them perhaps the best-known brother trio in the history of motorcycle racing. An entire generation of fans grew up watching and rooting for the Hayden brothers. The highlight of their career as a racing family was when Nicky, Tommy and Roger swept the podium at the 2002 Springfield TT AMA Grand National. It marked the first and only time in the long history the AMA Grand National Championship that brothers completed a podium sweep.
Roger launched his professional road racing career in 1999 at the age of 16. He showed amazing potential even as a rookie when he scored an impressive fifth-place result in the AMA 750cc Supersport race at Road Atlanta. From there, his results continued to grow ever more impressive with each season. He scored his first AMA 750 Superstock podium finish at age 17.