When the worst thing that people say about you is that you win too often, it’s a good problem to have. Tucker Hibbert is modern snocross racing’s most accomplished competitor. He has won more regular season events (now 97 after another season-opening sweep) than any racer ever, and has dominated the high-profile X Games snocross competition, winning 12 medals total and 7 in a row in events that haven’t even been competitive. Better yet, even though Hibbert has become the sport’s oldest competitor, he has become even more dominant – anybody who thinks this second-generation superstar is slowing down or coming back to the pack is sadly mistaken.
For the February issue of Snow Goer magazine, we caught up with Hibbert in early November as his team was preparing for the upcoming season. As you’ll see, the cold weather and snow hadn’t hit yet, so Hibbert was anxiously awaiting test time. Excerpts from that interview appear in the magazine, but here’s the whole uncut conversation, including some fun insight into the racer who looks so cunning on the track, but definitely still has a self-deprecating sense of humor.
SG: Are you feeling good and healthy going into the new season?
Yeah, I feel real good, I wish I had more time on the sled. Obviously this year it’s been challenging with the warm weather everywhere, it’s been hard to ride snowmobiles, so it’s going to be a little more of a guessing game coming into the season than what I would prefer. But aside from just riding the sled I feel really good, I feel really confident in my training and the team is working super hard on getting all of the sleds ready. The total package is looking pretty strong.
SG: I know some teams have tested on wood chip tracks in the past. Are you a wood chip guy?
No, I’m not a wood chip guy. I guess it’s something that I’ll maybe consider in the future if we have more years like this where you can’t find snow, but I’ve always been about just riding on the snow and trying to get as much real testing as possible. Right now I’m just focused on getting everything ready so that when we do hit the snow we’ll be able to make the best of it.
SG: What are your goals for this season, other than just winning every single time you hit the track?
(laughs) Well, that’s obviously always our goal is to win, and last year was the best season I’ve ever had. It’s going to be hard to beat that. My goal is to win every race, but I don’t expect that to happen, so I’m just going to go out there and focus on doing the best I can. The No. 1 goal is to win the championship and win another X Games gold medal. However we accomplish that, I’ll take it as it comes.
SG: You’ve become an elder statesman on the circuit already. Looking back on all of your accomplishments, what stands out? Are there any moments or things that pop into your head when you think of your career?
Not really. The biggest thing would be the first X games that I won back in 2000. That was a big event for me and a cool win, racing with my dad and it was a really cool event overall. But there have been a lot of cool events since then and it’s hard to really pick one out that’s my favorite. We’ve been to Russia and to Finland for World Championship races, those were really neat experiences for us. It was just a whole other challenge, so that was pretty cool. But I try not to look back and think about them too much because it makes me feel a little bit older. (laughs) I try to live in the present.
SG: What keeps you working this hard and training this hard to stay on top?
I guess it’s the fear of losing. I mean, I’ve been winning a lot and obviously I want to keep doing that, not just for myself but for my team and all of my sponsors. Our program is based around hard work and doing everything possible we can to win. I just try to stay focused on that and try not to worry too much about all of the little details you can get caught up in. I just try to do my stuff the best I can.
SG: There’s a saying in poker that you rarely remember your big victories, but your big defeats stay with you for awhile. Is it that way for you in snowmobile racing?
Yeah, I would say so. When you’re winning and everything is going good, everything just kind of turns into a blur and it’s hard to remember them all in detail. But when you have a loss or something goes wrong or a big crash or something, it’s pretty hard to forget those moments. That also motivates me. Throughout my career, every time I’ve had a bad race or something does not goes as planned, I usually come back the next weekend stronger than ever. I think every once in awhile I can use that little boost or motivation that you can get from not accomplishing your goals.
I don’t know, it’s just a lot of fun: It’s all about just being out there on the sled. The small amount of time that we’re on the race track compared to the amount of time that you spend testing and practicing and preparing, it’s all about the time we’re on the race track. That’s what keeps me excited about it and having fun. A lot of times the in-between stuff is not as much fun and it’s a lot of work, and it all starts to wear on me. But the feeling on the race track keeps me coming back for more.
SG: In the last few years there have been pictures taken of you trail riding a couple of times – whether on the Ride With The Champs with Blair Morgan or trail riding to the race near Fargo. Do you get a chance to ride for pleasure often?
Not very often. Those are actually a few of the only times I have been able to do much trail riding. I went on a mountain riding trip at the end of last season with my dad and a couple of friends, it was fun doing that. But it’s pretty rare that I get a chance to go riding and have fun. I try to do it as much as I can – my wife, Mandi, really loves to riding, so I try to take her on a little ride once or twice a year to keep her happy. I think it’s something I’ll do more in the future as I get ready to retire. When I retire, I’ll have more time and I can envision going out more. I end up spending so much time on the race track and practice track, any chance I get to not be on a snowmobile I kind of take that opportunity to relax a little bit. It’s sometimes hard for me to be super exciting about being on a snowmobile to ride more when I get a chance to relax a little bit. That’s why I think, in the future, I’ll be able to do it a lot more, when I’m not racing and I have the time to go do it and enjoy it.
SG: Our readers know you as a snowmobile racer, and the ones who really pay attention may know you as a motocross racer, but what would they be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t know – I don’t really have anything surprising or anything that’s totally different from what you would see of me on the racetrack. I really love racing mountain bikes, it’s something I do for training and it’s something I really enjoy. But there isn’t anything else that I’m really into or that I do aside from racing. It’s all about racing – unfortunately I’m not too exciting other than trying to win a race.
SG: Some quick-fire questions for you: According to Tucker Hibbert, what’s the best movie ever made?
My favorite movie is The Rock; I don’t know if it’s the best movie ever made, but I like it.
I actually don’t have a TV so I don’t really know any TV shows. Well, we actually do have a TV, we just don’t have any TV service. We did buy our first TV like six months ago. We watch stuff on Netflix every now and then, but we don’t have any TV service, and we don’t have any time to watch it so I didn’t see any point in having one.
SG: Alright, this one’s a loaded question: Best pig-out food that’s not made by Hot Stuff?
Ooooh (laughs). Um, wow. I don’t know. Anytime I’m pigging out it’s going to be pizza or cookies or something from Hot Stuff, so I don’t know. Mandi is a really good cook and she takes really good care of me. When it comes to just eating for fun, it’s got to be pizza.
SG: How about eating when you’re training – are you one of these guys that doesn’t eat red meat and makes sure he has brussle sprouts with every meal?
Noooo, I eat everything, I’m not scared! I eat really healthy and really clean foods, but I’m not stuck on one thing or totally against one thing. I’m just all about eating everything in moderation and making sure my stomach is full. If I’m hungry I’m not happy, so that’s the main thing.
SG: Give me three of your most prized possessions that aren’t from your sponsors, so you can’t say your Dodge pickup truck.
Well, my wife would probably be No. 1.
SG: Wow. Do we dare call Mandi a “possession” of yours?!
Well I don’t know, she seems to want to be around me a lot! So, I’d say Mandi, my team and my snowmobiles.
SG: You took the easy way out.
Well, I have to say, I don’t really do anything aside from racing, so I don’t really have any random prized possessions, I guess.
SG: You’ve never been a freestyle guy – I remember you doing a few tricks back in the day when you crossed the finish line when you won a race, but what has kept you away from the aerial stunts?
Well, the fact that I’m not good at it (laughs)! I don’t do freestyle at least on purpose anymore. It happens occasionally when I’m doing some crazy crash or something, it looks like I’d trying some stunt or something. I don’t know, I guess I’ve never really been into it and I’m not good at it. Last year at Canterbury when I beat Blair Morgan’s win record, I decided I’d try to do a Superman over the finish line, and that was terrible. Most people didn’t even know I tried it because my feet barely moved, but for the few people that saw it, there’s some pretty funny photos floating around. I guess that was just a reminder that I don’t need to be doing any freestyle.