Tucker Hibbert didn’t become the winningest driver in the history of modern snocross racing by being indecisive in either his life or on the track. In fact, he because arguably the greatest racer of all time by remaining focused on his goals during any given race, while his team matched his competitiveness when designing, testing and preparing his sleds for the races.
But in retirement? The snowdust hasn’t quite cleared from Hibbert’s vision yet.
It’s been a little more than two months since Hibbert – the winner of 138 Pro national victories and 10 X Games gold medals in snocross – announced his retirement on May 16, and he was as nebulous about his future during our conversation with him on Tuesday, July 24, as he was the day he said he was going to walk away on top.
Regardless, Hibbert was gracious enough to take time out of his (still quite active) schedule to answer our questions on why he left, what he’s loved about racing and what comes next.
Snow Goer: Let’s start with the most obvious question – why retire now? What led to the decision?
Tucker Hibbert: Why retire has an easier answer – at some point I had to stop racing; I’m not going to be fast and competitive forever. It had to come to an end at some point. Why do it now? Mostly because I feel good, I’m happy and satisfied with what I have done with my career racing snowmobiles. I feel like there is really no reason for me to continue racing, other than that I love competition. I’ve been doing it long enough and accomplished all the goals that I have set out for myself and I’m ready for a change of pace.
SG: People always ask you the ‘what’s next?’ question and now you’ve had a couple months to think about it – are you any closer to an answer?
Hibbert: Not really. I don’t have anything in the works coming up that is major – no big plans. I’m just kind of figuring it out as we go, and so far it’s been pretty much normal life for me over the summer, but it’s going to start to change and get a little different for me as the snow season comes up, when normally we would start working on snowmobiles a lot in the fall and getting ready for the season – that’s when things are going to get really different for me. So far it’s been cruising along the same as always, but I don’t have any big plans for the winter. I don’t know if I will be going to the races, or not going to any. I’m waiting to figure out what makes sense, and what I want to do.
SG: Is there any chance of multiple Brett Favre-esque comebacks?
Hibbert: I’m pretty confident that I’m happy and not planning on doing any racing at this point, and definitely not making a comeback to snocross or anything. It’s time for me to be done, and you won’t see me out there anymore racing. It’s kind of a bummer, but at the same time it’s a good thing and allows me and everyone else on the team a chance to do something different and enjoy things that we haven’t been able to do.
SG: How do you think you will handle the transition from going from a busy season to one that’s going to be relatively quiet for you?
Hibbert: It’s going to be really different. I’ve never really had a winter or fall where I’m not working my tail off on snowmobiles and spending all my time getting ready for racing. At the same time I’m not the kind of person that’s ever sitting on my butt or bored – I’m definitely wide-open all day, every day with whatever I’m doing. I’m sure I will find plenty of things to keep me busy and keep me occupied. I’m not just going to be sitting on the couch twiddling my thumbs, but it is going to be a big change for sure. I don’t know how I’m going to handle it or how it’s going to feel, but I’m sure it’s going to be a little weird. I’ve got great people around me – Mandi is the best wife a guy could ever hope for. We enjoy spending time together, so I’m sure we’ll find some fun stuff to do.
SG: For any professional athlete, a lot of times when they step away the hardest void to fill is the need to compete. Do you see yourself doing anything else to fill that void?
Hibbert: Not at this point. I’ve spent my whole life racing snowmobiles and motocross, and doing all these things – it’s a ton of work. That’s part of why I’m slowing down with not racing snocross. I’ve been cranking so hard for so long that I’m ready for a little less stress and a little slower pace. I think jumping right into some other type of racing that is basically the same workload and stress is not something I’m super excited to do, but it’s going to be weird to not have that everyday drive to get better – going into the races on the weekends and measuring how hard we worked by our results.
SG: With mountain biking, do you enter events or is it more recreational?
Hibbert: I do quite a bit of racing, but it’s mostly local, Minnesota regional mountain racing – nothing super serious or competitive. It’s just something that I really love to do and I think I will do more and more of now. It’s a lot simpler and less stressful. I don’t want to say it’s a lot less work, but there’s a lot less moving parts involved to ride a bike compared to operating a snocross team. It’s a lot simpler life, and that’s part of the attraction. It’s not easy by any means, but I think I will put a lot of energy into it, at least in the short-term.
SG: Are there a couple wins or races that stick out in your memory when you look back at a long career?
Hibbert: It’s hard to pick a couple because there’s been so many great ones and I’ve had so much fun racing over the years that almost every race had something special about it. Obviously my first X-Games win is one that I always come back to as a memorable race and something that I will never forget. There’s been a lot of great races like my 100th win and a few others where I came from a bad start to come from last and get the win – high-intensity or exciting races are definitely ones that I will never forget. There’s been a ton of great races, and it’s fun to look back at photos and videos of that stuff. I think as time goes by that will be even cooler – I will be able to look back and remember how good I used to be. I will tell my kids and everyone, just like my dad does to me now about how fast he was. I never believe him, because he couldn’t have been that good, right? They’re old fishing stories.
SG: Out of all of our accomplishments, is there anything that you weren’t able to achieve that you wanted to?
Hibbert: Not really. I never really had a large set of goals, or number of race wins, championships or anything like that that I said I had to reach – it was just about enjoying each season and obviously my goal was to win every single race and championship. All I did was think about winning, but there wasn’t really any big picture. I never had anything I wanted to do that I didn’t. The only thing I can say I wish I would have one but didn’t was the Dominator race in Duluth. I came close a couple times, but I never got one of those wins; it’s just one of them that I never did win.
SG: Was being the greatest of all time ever a target in mind, or was it always about who am I racing today and how can I beat them?
Hibbert: It was more about day-to-day and just being the best racer I could be. I tried to not think about all the races I had done previously, or championships and trying to live up to those results. It was always just about being the best each day, race and season; There’s always a lot of different challenges from year to year – you’re always constantly evaluating the challenges and figuring out how to adapt. I put all my focus on being in the moment and being the best I could be. All the big picture stuff just adds pressure and stress and doesn’t do any good really.
SG: How does it feel when someone calls you the GOAT (Greatest of all Time)?
Hibbert: It’s a little weird for sure. I’ve just tried to enjoy what I’m doing at the moment, I don’t really reminisce much about the wins or how good I am. Working with the people that I have keeps me grounded. I try and enjoy life and live as normal as I can away from the racetrack. It’s definitely a little weird when there’s a lot of fans all saying stuff like that, but it feels good. I put a ton of work into racing and my whole life I’ve been doing it basically.
SG: You’ve had a lot of consistency on your team, what does that mean to you and have you ever been curious how things may have been different had you switched brands or teams at some point in your career?
Hibbert: I’m proud and happy about all the consistency in our program. To have pretty much all the same sponsors and people working with me from the beginning is a lot of fun and awesome. We’ve had so many great memories over the years. We’ve all enjoyed working together so much. We always tried to remain consistent and not make big changes unless we had to. We were always looking to make things better and be the best team we could be, but when it’s working there’s no need to make big changes. The ingredient list worked, so we tried not to mess with it.
SG: What was the best part of being a pro snocross racer and then what was the most difficult?
Hibbert: The best part was enjoying what I do and working with great people. The memories made and time spent with my team has been so much fun, and it’s pretty rare that you can enjoy your work as much as I have and be successful for such a long time. It’s a lot of fun to look back and think about all the good memories we’ve made and laugh about it. The worst part, or least fun part anyways, was probably practicing when its -20 or -30 degrees below zero Fahrenheit and you have to test and ride in the elements – the day-after-day grind of winter and dealing with the elements gets to be a little old after a while, but that’s part of being successful. You have to find ways to enjoy not-so-fun parts and find ways to do it better than the next guy – put in the work no matter what, whether it’s fun or not.
SG: Is there any other type of racing that you were curious about wanting to try?
Hibbert: Not really. I have been fortunate enough to do most of the things that I have wanted to do in life. Motocross, mountain bikes and snowmobiles are the three things that I enjoy the most. I’ve never had a huge motivation to do cross-country racing, hill climbs or anything like that. I think it would be fun to try some of those events, but it just hasn’t ever worked out for me. I did do the Jackson hill climb one year and that was super fun, but at the same time if I was going to do those events I know I would need to be 100 percent committed and prepared to put in the work necessary to be successful. It was never something that was possible with our snocross program. I’ve been to a lot of hill climb events and it’s pretty impressive how skilled those guys are at climbing the gnarly terrain up the mountain. I’m a little bit afraid of heights, so I’m definitely a flatlander now – it’s a little scary when you get way up to the top and all of a sudden you’re stuck and looking to roll to the bottom. It’s not the best feeling for me.
SG: How would you like people to remember Tucker Hibbert?
Hibbert: I want people to remember whatever made them most excited about watching me race. It’s been a lot of fun and I hope I have created a lot of enjoyment for people watching the races. I think I’ve done things right and been a good role model and example for kids. Also, never giving up – there were quite a few races I had that would have been easy to give up and settle in for not winning, but I never stopped until the race was over.
SG: You’ve mentioned a Haydays appearance – any specific plans yet? Also, any immediate future appearances?
Hibbert: We’ll be at Haydays with our merchandise booth and trailer like we have in past years, doing autographs. We’re working on some new merch that will be available, kind of some career highlight stuff. We’re also working on a few other events after Haydays that we’re not totally set on it. We’re just hoping to get out and see some fans on kind of a farewell event tour.
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