DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 68th Daytona 200 By Honda will go down in the history books as the first nighttime running of America’s most historical motorcycle race.
It’ll also go down as the first time a husband and wife have competed against each other in the grueling 57-lap race.
“Honestly if I had it my way, I think I would prefer not to be racing my husband because I know he’s probably the most talented person out there,” said Paris, who is racing the No. 413 Yamaha YZF–R6 for the MarkBilt Racing and raising money for the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.
“I haven’t really thought about it a whole lot,” said Hayes last weekend. “I’m confident in what she (Paris) is capable of doing and I’ve tried to help her prepare for it well, but come Wednesday morning when we go on track, basically I’ve got my own business to take care off. We’ll meet up and talk about things in the evenings but I think during the day we are going to have our own deals going on.”
The 2009 Daytona 200 by Honda will mark Hayes’ sixth start in the Daytona 200 By Honda with his best finish being a second-place run in 2006.
“Running the race at night is going to be unique,” said Hayes, who is riding for factory Yamaha. “But I don’t think that night really changes the challenge of it.
“I know how it all has to work. I’m not coming into it nervous like maybe Melissa is. I know how the race goes and I know what it’s like out there on the race track.”
While Hayes brings veteran experience to the 2009 Daytona 200 by Honda, this year’s race will be Paris’s first Daytona 200 By Honda start as well as her first AMA Pro Racing event.
“I’m really looking forward to it because it’s my first pro race,” Paris said. “Really I just hope to put on a good show for my first pro outing.”
A relationship can always have its challenges. The difference for Hayes and Paris is that most couples don’t have to race their spouse in front of a national television audience on a motorcycle.
“It has its hard days but then in a lot of ways it’s also really easy,” Hayes said. “Melissa has refreshed my motivation in a lot of ways. She does everything with me and when I’m tired, she’s my motivation. She says, ‘Well I’m going to do it with you or without you,’ and I can’t let that happen. It’s been very good for me.”
“Some couples might have Friday night movie night, but we’re sitting there dissecting old races,” Paris said. “I think it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Hayes and Paris will compete in Friday night’s Daytona 200 By Honda. For more information and tickets for the Daytona Supercross by Honda and the 68th Daytona 200 By Honda, visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.