FIM World Champion Tucker Hibbert Talks Snocross
by Scott A. Sumner
A tradition for me each year is to have a nice sit down interview with Tucker in his hauler at the season opener at Duluth. Here is our interview.
How has the off-season been for you Tucker?
“The off season was good, better than recent years. I had an injury at the end of the season at Lake Geneva that I had to deal with which took a while. Fortunately I healed up well and was able to get on the motocross bike and do some racing, which I haven’t done for a few years. I am happy to be healthy and ready to rip on the snow again.”
The crash at Lake Geneva last season looked pretty bad?
“ It was gnarly crash at Lake Geneva, pretty high speed down the big drop where I got swapped out and crashed. I didn’t think it was that bad at first just getting the wind knocked out of me. I felt I may have cracked some ribs but it got worse from there and I ended up at the hospital. It wasn’t much fun. I have had my share of injury in recent years and am ready for a healthy season.”
Do you feel like a veteran rider out there now?
“ This is my 10th year as a pro at Duluth. I started racing at 8 years old and am 28 now. It has been 20 years and 11 as a professional. I feel like I am well experienced but I don’t feel like I am old. It is always exciting to come to Duluth each year for the start of the season. Being in shape and prepared for racing is what gets you through injuries and keeps you from getting injuries and pushing forward at the head of the pack. I have been focused on being fit and training all year round. Right now I feel I am at the top of my game and ready to go racing. I don’t have a set plan as to how many years I have left to race but just going to do it until I am not enjoying it or something like that. I feel I am still in my prime and the next few years should be my best. I just have to focus on getting through the season healthy and having a good off-season training.
It means a lot to be healthy as a snocross racer then?
It is like a snowball effect when you are healthy and keep training you just move ahead. When you have injures you have to regroup and start over. I had a lot of years with a lot if success but the injuries slow you down a bit. You just have to get going again to be 100% where I am now and I want to stay there. My fitness is my own secret. I work really, really hard. This racing deal I take very, very seriously and I want to be prepared to be the best I can be and to avoid injury. Racing and training for me is a 100% all the time, full time.”
How do you like the 2013 Arctic Cay SnoPro 600 race sled?
Our race sled this year, the SnoPro 600, is really, really good. I felt last year we struggled a little bit with the set up and just trying to figure out how to make the sled work the way we wanted it to. It was super challenging with the season starting in November and not much time to test with the warm temperature. We learned last year what we needed to know to make the sleds better and took all of our notes and improved the sled a lot. We have been working super hard on it to come to this race prepared to win. I have been spending lot of time testing and spending time on the sled and honestly it didn’t take that long. I think we made some great improvement and it showed up right away. That shows up in our confidence as well. When everything works well from the start it gives you time to fine tune instead of trying to regroup. My goal is to improve the sled and rider so you are going round the track faster. It is crazy the amount of work that goes into being prepared to gain 1/2 second a lap here and there. At this level it is not like you are going to go out there and be way faster than the next guy. It is a ton of work and the engineers at Arctic Cat and my team and sponsors have been working super hard to come here and battle for the win and I think we are ready.”
What makes you be able to perform so well on the track at these races?
“ Experience is the biggest thing on the track. Having been in situations a lot in my career, it prepares me for circumstances that come up. The practicing and testing allow you to be out there and on autopilot where everything is on reactions. The testing, practice and preparation allow you to be ready for anything. I feel we have done a good job at preparing and can go out there and take on whatever comes up.
What do you enjoy the most about racing?
“ I enjoy the checkered flag the most! All the work and time during the week isn’t always fun but when you are on the racetrack that is what it is all about and you are having fun. The preparation is difficult.”
This year Arctic Cat has produced a Tucker Hibbert replica sled, the F800 SnoPro. That must make you proud?
“ We are excited to do the Tucker Hibbert replica snowmobile and launched it at HayDays. People are starting to get them this week I hope. I worked on the line last week helping them put some parts on the sled. Hopefully I didn’t mess things up! It is fun to go to the factory, see the sleds go down the line and talk to the people building them. It was a big day for me and hopefully the consumers will enjoy riding it. It is about giving something back to my fans that have followed me over the years. If they want they can be part of the race team. The chassis and a lot of the stuff are parts and things that just come off my race sled. We worked on it for quite a long time to get some of the products I race with every weekend to give it a unique appeal. Our 600 motors are pretty fast when all tuned up so the replica 800 engine is pretty close to the race engine. Maybe one day I’ll get it out and see if they let me line it up at one of the races. I got number 1 and 68 serial number sleds and will ride one and keep the other for collection.”
What will be your race schedule this season?
We will race the full ISOC National series, be back at Winter X Games, which is exciting for us, and then at the Clash of Nations in Sweden at the end of the season. We are still uncertain on the World Championship, which I won last year. It is a three race series this year with two races in Russia and one in Finland. One of the three races conflict with ISOC so we will have to see.
How do you feel the competition will be this year?
Every year there is somebody new racing. I try not to worry too much about that and focus on my own program and be ready to go. Last year was one of the best years that we have had with a good group of fast guys. I like it better when I am winning more races but it is good for the sport and fans when we have a lot of guys battling at the top. It was something that I wasn’t real excited about, only winning at most two races last season when in past years I have won almost every race. I am out there to win the races. Last year I made some mistakes and we had some issues but this year is a new season and it has re motivated me and our team to push even harder and get back towhere I was.”
Tucker Hibbert finished 5th on Saturday and Sunday at Duluth. It will be fun to follow his progress this season!
Follow me on twitter Scott Sumner @tbay25