5 Minutes with... Tucker Hibbert

February 11, 2009 2:31pm | by:
Tucker Hibbert is well known in motocross circles as a hard-charging, hard-working privateer who spends his summers battling for points in the 250 class of AMA Motocross Series. In the winter time, however, he becomes something even more formidable: Tucker Hibbert is the best snocross racer on the planet. The Minnesotan just completed a perfect run through his winter schedule, sweeping every race he entered—including Winter X in Aspen last month. Now he’s starting to put things in place for his return to professional motocross in May.

Racer X: Tucker, if you win everything in motocross, they call you the GOAT. What do they call you in the snow?
Tucker Hibbert: [Laughs] I'm not sure. They haven't given me any special name. I am just happy to have the year go as well as it has, and I've had a lot of success this season. And I am just glad we could get through it without any injuries. I had a lot of fun.

I saw from the report and all the photos from the Amsoil Championship Snocross Series, you went undefeated. Has that ever been done before?
No, it’s never been done. The one thing with me is that I am only racing half the series. There's I think eight total races, and I just did the first four and the Winter X Games. So, it’s not officially a complete undefeated season I guess, but as far as my season and the races I planned and the races I did, I was undefeated through qualifying and main events. It was definitely a first for me and the results have I think been better that what anyone's done in the past. So, I am pretty happy about that.

What's harder to do, to manipulate a 400-pound Arctic Cat around a snocross track or to battle forward from a mid-pack start in an outdoor national?
Well, it’s definitely tougher for me to do an outdoor national and compete in the Lites class. God's given me a lot of skill and talent to ride a snowmobile and I've been able to do a lot with that, but unfortunately on the bikes, I have to work a little bit harder to succeed at that. It's definitely a lot tougher for me but something I enjoy a lot.

Granted, you got a very late start as far as motocross goes.
You know, not really…. I started racing when I was about 8 years old. I didn't do a lot of amateur stuff. I went to Loretta's once in 1997 on an 80. I did a lot of racing when I was younger and turned pro in 2000. So, I've really been racing a lot, but it was difficult for me compared to most guys because the winter season I was focused on racing snowmobiles, and living in northern Minnesota, our motorcycle season is pretty short compared to most of the other places race and riding motocross. I was really just juggling two things and didn't take motocross real serious until about 2005, then I really focused on trying to improve my results professionally. It's been definitely a challenge to do both sports, but something I am excited and happy to be able to do.

Do the guys you snocross with, are they like, “We just can't wait for you to get your motocross gear out and head south?”
[Laughs] Yeah, I think some of them are glad that I am going to go I guess. All the other races are great and really enjoy racing against each other and have a lot of respect for each other. But we've obviously winning a lot this year, so I think there are going to be some guys that are going to be pretty excited at having a shot tat getting some race wins.

Right on. Now, the final round you did was in Brainerd this weekend, and it sounded like it was pretty warm and sunny out.  There had to have been a lot of people come out and see.
It was definitely an awesome event. It was so warm (mid-thirties) compared to normal races, especially in the last month or so in northern Minnesota. We just had some pretty cold temperatures—about 30-40 below—when we came back from X Games, but now we've had some pretty decent weather. This weekend it was real nice and sunny and mid-30s. The racing for the fans and everything was really good. I think they had about 5,000 people a day, about 15-16,000 total for the weekend. It was a pretty decent turnout for our racing and to be in a smaller town, it turned out really good.

As far as the X Games go, in freestyle motocross, that is the real lynch-pin of the season. Is it the same way with snocross, because of the amounts of live television coverage you get?
Yeah, definitely. X Games is the biggest event for myself and for snocross and for snowmobiling of the year. We have a regular national tour just like the AMA Motocross and Supercross but X Games is kind of the highlight for us and my focus for the whole season is based around X Games. With me only competing in half of the regular season races, we use those races as testing and preparation for X Games. That's really where we gain our momentum and really just prepare ourselves for X Games. That's our focus, and it's worked out really good in the last couple years. I'm pretty stoked.

You don't do the speed and style, right?
[Laughs] Nope, I'm just strictly the racer guy. I'm not big on the freestyle tricks. So, I might get a couple hands off the bars every once in a while but usually if anything else has come off it's an accident. But the freestyle stuff has really came a long ways. It has gotten better and better. But for me it's all about racing and that's kind of where my roots are at and where I'll be going I guess. I don't have any plans on converting to a freestyle guy.

Will we see you in Atlanta next weekend?
Nope, I definitely won't be in any of the rounds coming up real soon. I'm not too sure if I am going to be racing any of the East Coast supercross this year or not. I've been off the bike basically since the last outdoor national and Steel City so I just have got to get back on and start riding and see how it goes from there. If things go well, I'd really like to do a couple of supercrosses towards the end of the season, but my main focus is going to be for motocross.

How is your team shaping up?
You know, this year's a little different than in the past. I haven't spent a lot of time on the moto side of it. I've been so focused with snocross and getting through X Games and everything.  I think that's part of the reason we had a lot of success this year. I was able to focus 100 percent on the sleds. So, right now I am just basically just picking up the pieces ad trying to get something organized for motocross. At this point, I don't really have any plans or sponsors or anything going yet. But I am definitely open for anything at this point. I am the kind of guy that has more fun and seems to do better on my own with my own schedule and program, but I am definitely open and looking for opportunities for motocross and supercross next year. I am just really focused on doing the best I can and getting good results and having fun.  I think if I can do that then opportunities will come for sure. But I know right now with what’s going on, it's a little tough for rides and there's a lot of fast guys sitting at home  I think right now. So I'm just going to take what I can get and do the best with it.

What is the transition like for you to go from being the very top-rated factory, Arctic Cat, Monster-backed snocrosser to being a full privateer outdoors?
It's definitely a change. For snocross, I basically got everything I need. The whole Monster Energy Arctic Cat team, all my sponsors, they make it really, really easy for me to show up and do my job. It's just like a really well-oiled machine I would say. For me to go make motorcycles it's kind of a privateer effort, me and my wife, and had a mechanic for a couple of years, my dad helps out a little bit. So, it’s not a full-blown factory program by any means, but we seem to make it happen and I get good results and have a lot of fun. So, it's definitely a lot of hard work, but it’s the challenge that keeps me coming back.

Well, do have any sponsors you want to mention other than Arctic Cat?
Obviously Monster Energy has been behind me forever. I've got to thank them for everything. Shock doctor, One Industries Helmets, Spy Goggles, and then just all the snocross sponsors that have been behind us forever. We've been fortunate to have good people behind us and our program hasn't changed for many years so I am pretty thankful for everybody that's been behind me.

That'll do it. Congratulations on the X Games Gold again. How many does that make now?
That's eight total metals and three of them are gold now, or four…. Sorry, four golds!

And also on the undefeated season. Well done.
Thank you. I appreciated that.