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Hayes and Paris set to make history

First married couple to race Daytona 200

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Mar. 05, 2009
Josh Hayes and Melissa Paris will attempt to make history by being the first husband and wife duo to race in the Daytona 200.

The couple will compete under the lights in the March 6 Daytona 200 on a pair of Yamaha R6’s, Hayes on a factory machine and Paris on a MarkBilt Racing bike.

“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,” says Paris who is racing to raise money for the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.

The Daytona 200 will be Paris’ first AMA Pro Racing event. Paris regularly competes in the United States Grand Prix Racers Union and the Champions Cup Series. Like Hayes, Paris previously raced on a Honda bike but will race in 2009 on a Yamaha. Paris raced for the first time on her Yamaha YZF-R6 March 1 in the CCS Expert Middleweight Superbike race at Daytona International Speedway, finishing 13th out of 39 entrants. The race provided Paris with a good warm-up for the 57 lap Daytona 200.

“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.”

Josh Hayes will seek redemption for his disqualification from the 2008 Daytona 200.

While Paris will be making her Daytona 200 debut, her husband will be competing in his sixth. Hayes was named the provisional winner of the 2008 race but was later disqualified for an illegal crankshaft. Hayes’ best official result was a second-place finish in 2006. The 2009 race will be held at night for the first time but Hayes says he doesn’t expect that to make too much of a difference.

“Running the race at night is going to be unique,” says Hayes who will also compete in the March 7 AMA Superbike race in Daytona. “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.”

What might make a difference for Hayes is competing against his wife in a high profile race such as the Daytona 200. Hayes says their relationship has been a source of motivation for him.

“It has its hard days but then in a lot of ways it’s also really easy,” Hayes says. “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.”