's Princesskiwi Chats With AMA Supersport Champion Tommy Hayden

After flying 10 hours and driving two more I arrive at VIR-Virginia International Raceway, to watch Round 9 of the AMA Superbike Championship, and sit down for a chat with Tommy Hayden. By the time I reach the track gates it's 9:30 pm. I've missed sign in and my Media Pass isn't at the gate. It's already dark and I still have to find my friend Laura from Speedwerks. Laura has a motor home in the paddock and has invited me to stay with her and her husband.

I have no idea how to find them so I ask the gate attendants for some help. "Cowboy", a VIR official, volunteers to help me find them. I park my car and he drives me around the pits in his Mule looking for the Speedwerks camp. They are not in the pits, but eventually we track them down. I could not have found them without Cowboy's help!

Laura's hubby Brian offers me a cold one, and we settle down and talk about the races, racers and bikes. Ah, this is nice!

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The next morning I get up and go for my jog. The track grounds are beautifully taken care of. The buildings are designed to look like red barns and are surrounded by tranquil ponds filled with ducks.

The Hayden camp is easy to spot with its' big trucks and on looking fans. It is 11:40 am and it's already humid. The riders are on lunch. As I wait for my scheduled interview with Tommy Hayden, Laura snaps some pictures. I try to get someone's attention, but that doesn't seem to work. I look like one of the many ever-present fans outside the big Kawasaki truck. Roger Hayden is signing autographs for the crowd and Tommy is nowhere to be seen.

I spot Mrs. Hayden, who is wearing a really cut pink outfit. She is under the tent talking to some of the crew. I introduce myself and tell her I am here to interview Tommy. Mrs. Hayden goes into the truck to find Tommy and returns a few minutes later. We chat with Mrs. Hayden about clothes and fashion as she shows us inside the truck and to the Kawasaki lounge. The lounge has two black leather loveseats in it. Tommy and Roger's leathers' hang in opposite corners of the tiny room. Tommy comes in (he shakes my hand with his left hand) and we talk while Laura takes pictures.

PK: What do you do the night before a race?
TOMMY: The night before a race? Not much of anything really. Usually we get out of here pretty late, grab something to eat and then just hang out at the room going over our notes from the day. Make a plan for the next day, really studying the split times and just thinking about the track - just kind of relax really. We have to get at it pretty early, we have to go to sleep early, so nothing really exciting.

PK: Do you have a special Pre- Race Breakfast?
TOMMY: No, what ever they have at the Hotel.

PK: What do you think about this track?
TOMMY: This track is one of our better tracks really. One of the newer tracks we have been to. I like it. The first two years we came to VIR, I did really good, so usually I always like the tracks better that I do well at. Overall, I think it is one of our safer tracks. It has a lot of run offs, and they do a lot of work here keeping it up. It looked like we weren't going to come here, so I was a disappointed about that and then it was put on the schedule late, so that was good to see.

PK: What advice would you give to someone coming here to do a track day for the first time on this track?
TOMMY: Nothing really tricky about it, you know - more than any other track. Nothing you need to really to watch out for. I would suggest coming here, because it is one of the better tracks. It would be a lot of fun because of the elevation. It is a real road course which is always more fun. I don't really have any tips. I would definitely recommend it. If you were deciding where to go - this would be a good one.

PK: How are you recovering from Laguna?
TOMMY: Slowly. I guess it really hasn't been that long. I keep getting confused as to how long it's been, so it's probably taking as long as they told me it would take to heal. I'm just kind of frustrated. I am ready for it to be 100% and not worry about it anymore, but, I have been riding a lot and because of the races I haven't given it a very good chance to heal. I just have to get through the next two weeks, and then I can give it a nice break. Then hopefully I will see some bigger improvements once I give it some time off.

PK: What can your fans expect from you today?
TOMMY: Hopefully, they will see me clench the Championship. That's my plan, coming here. But I will have to improve a little. Right now I am a bit farther behind than what I expected. I thought that my hand would be a little bit better. I missed the test here. Hopefully we can make up for it. My goal was to get the Championship wrapped up here and not have to worry about it next weekend at Atlanta, so right now that's my plan, that's my focus. I will just have to take it as it goes.

PK: What is your favorite color?
TOMMY: Favorite color - black.

PK: What is your favorite pizza?
TOMMY: Favorite pizza - Hawaiian.

PK: Do you own a Wildcats t-shirt?
TOMMY: Actually, I do not own a Wildcats t-shirt.

PK: What would you be doing if you weren't racing?
TOMMY: Ah, I have no idea. It is all I have done since I was 3 years old. It's all I have ever thought about doing. I have never even considered any other options, so I am not sure. I do think about that sometimes and I have no idea. I guess I maybe would have had more interest in something else growing up. It's hard to say. My Dad has a car dealership maybe I would be working there for him, but racing is all I have ever known or have ever thought about.

PK: When you have kids, is racing something that you want them to do?
TOMMY: It's not a priority to me. It wouldn't matter at all. If racing is something they want to do, that would be good. I would support them. If its something they weren't into I wouldn't really care either way. It would be fine if they did. If they didn't, we would find something else to do - I am sure. I have spent enough time at the racetrack, if they don't want to that's fine.

PK: Do you have a lucky charm?

PK: Nothing?
TOMMY: Nothing, no lucky charm. Sometimes, I'll think I have something - but then as soon as it goes bad, I realize that it doesn't have anything to do with it.

PK: Thank you.
TOMMY: All right.

Before I leave I give Tommy a bag of goodies I've brought from Canada, smoked salmon, maple cookies and of course some Molson Canadian. I'll have to ask his PR people what Canadian thing Tommy liked best. I am hoping of course that he says his favorite thing from Canada is the nice girl he met at VIR, but I would still be happy to take a second place finish, after the beer.

At VIR Tommy placed second to his brother Roger in the Supersport race.
Aaron Yates (Suzuki) took first place in the Superstock series with Roger in Second, and Jason DeSalvo in third.

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