Team Arctic Cat Looks For Great Results With Tucker Hibbert Back
By Scott A. Sumner
A walk into the pit area at the Amsoil Duluth National Snocross would lead you right to the familiar position of the Arctic Cat factory team. This year Kirk Hibbert and new race manager Russ Ebert will have famous racer Tucker Hibbert back at least for the first races of the season.
"Its fun having my son back. He will do 4 races plus the X Games," smiles Kirk Hibbert. "The sled this year has some improvements, a little more power, a little better suspension and is more durable. Tucker has been riding at Planet X before this race at Duluth."
"We built new mods this year but did not build new 440 stock sleds as we had some left over from last year and are using them up. The mod has a 600 engine and still uses the Firecat chassis," notes Kirk. "The consumer wants a wider track it seems so thats why we have the new F Series sleds. Next year the race sled will be based on what we feel will do the best job. I not focussing on my own racing but am focusing on Tuckers program."
Kirk Hibbert is 49 now and started snowmobiling in 1965 at age 8. His first racing was in 1969 where he started more in snocross. "It was bigger in the west than it was here. In the 70s we had a lot of snocross. The I 500 was one of my best achievements though. I miss it a little bit but I am past that now. It would be hard to do," notes Kirk. "Snocross is a little easier than cross country because the speed is down and you dont have to have as good of reflexes. Physically snocross is demanding but the things that go with age like eye sight and reflexes work better with snocross than cross country. I work in race sled development now. Russ Ebert is on the rider side more so should be good as Race Manager but well miss him on the development side. I think Tucker might be fast a few times. All of guys can do well. Curtis Crapo ran strong last year, and there is Carl Schubitzke and Jeff Snow
Russ Ebert is the new Race Manager of Arctic Cat. "I worked for Roger Skime in engineering back in 1969 and 1970 and have been around Arctic Cat for a long time. For the most part they are a great family of people and a great company," smiles Russ Ebert. "The folks really like the rider forward chassis of the new F series. As far as comfort goes I rode one about 100 miles. Im not exactly a youth anymore, more a little bit in the twilight of my career, but the 100 miles seemed like 20 on a old snowmobile."
Ebert taught at a college for 33 years but worked evenings and weekends with Arctic Cat. "Kirk had me take Tucker racing when we first got started and I now have a son racing myself and get to work with people like Christian Brothers Racing, a really stellar race time," notes Ebert. "I remember when we first raced at Thunder Bay and Tucker moved from Sport to Semi Pro. Im glad to see Tucker back. I have the greatest admiration for Kirk and the Hibbert family and had a little part in getting him back here."
We didn't build a 07 440 because this is the last year of the 440 and it will go to 600. Most of these 440's were tweaked out as much as you are going to get them and we had some inventory," said Ebert. "We did build some 07 Mods sleds and I think we will be very competitive this season. Last year we won 4 of the 6 pro classes . At the regional level I watch Arctic Cat which was just dominant, just unbelievable. I watch the stats."
Tucker Hibbert had a great career in snocross racing up to 2002 when he retired and at the young age of 22 is now back as the lead Arctic Cat rider. "I will do 5 races this year instead of one. I wanted to come back and do a little racing and get better prepared for the X games this year. It is pretty important to do well there so we want to be as prepared as we can. I dont like not winning, everybody wants to win. We will do everything we can to be up front," smiles Tucker Hibbert. "I started racing when I was 11 but have been around snowmobiles since I was a little kid. It is just a lot of fun.You get to go out and ride with your friends and racing is just a rush, its fun to do." "I've been working really hard. Something that I take really important is my fitness and my training. I feel I am in better shape than anybody out here" states the 6 feet, 163 pound racer with a 6% body fat level. "I cant tell you my fitness regiment as if I told you everybody would be trying to beat me. I do a lot of cycling, dirt biking, weight training- everything and try to find the balance of all sectors.
The young Hibbert is in the AMA Supercross Indoors and Outdoor National series in the summer. February 22 will be his first motocross race this season. They will start racing earlier in January in California but Tucker will miss that series.
" I have been working hard for the past few years to improve my supercross and motocross results. That is what I am focusing on," notes Tucker. "I am sure Blair will be back again in snocross. I havent raced with him today yet. There is a lot of good riders out there today."
For the young Hibbert there is no off time. "This is my life. I live in Centreville, Oklahoma with Kevin Windham, one of the top guys in motocross. Jeremy Macgrath was my hero growing up." smiles Tucker.