New Arctic Cat replica race sled the latest step
Tucker Hibbert admits to taking some jabs after he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals game at Target Field in September.
The pitch eventually bounced its way to home plate, and with that, Hibbert bounded to the suite level to talk about what he knows best — snowmobiles.
As a member of the Monster Energy/Arctic Cat race team who has been on snowmobiles seemingly forever, the 28-year-old Hibbert capped a whirlwind week in the Twin Cities. Earlier, he had been on hand to help Arctic Cat unveil its new ProCross F800 Race Replica at Haydays, the snowmobile festival that’s known as the unofficial start of winter.
Seeing his dedicated fans there helped Hibbert turn the page on summer.
“I didn’t go to Haydays much when I was young,” Hibbert said between pitches of yet another Twins loss. “I didn’t start going too much until I was going for Arctic Cat to sign autographs when I started racing professionally.
“It’s always crazy there. Everyone’s so excited for winter and snowmobiling, yet it’s summer. It’s exciting because we’re thinking about snocross and the new season, but at the same time you’re still doing things you enjoy doing in the summer. When Haydays hits, for me it’s always like ‘Wow, already?!’ It’s always good and fun to see everybody.”
With the launch of his replica sled, Hibbert was especially looking forward to the dirt and dust at Haydays.
“I work closely with Arctic Cat year-round, but it’s fun to see everyone’s hard work come together with all the sleds that are released. It’s cool, for sure,” Hibbert added.
Talks of manufacturing a Hibbert replica race sled have been in the works for a few years.
“It’s been exciting for me because it’s always been something I’ve thought about or hoped would happen. To have it finally happen is really exciting,” Hibbert said. “One really cool thing about this replica sled is it wasn’t just Arctic Cat wanting to put my name on it. We worked really hard together on what the snowmobile’s going to be, what parts I wanted to see changed or added, or things from my race sled that I wanted to include on it. There’s a limit as to what we can do. You can’t make it a full-on modified race sled, but I think we were able to do a good job finding the things that consumers could use and benefit from, and putting those on there is going to be cool for the fans to feel like they’re riding one of my race sleds. It’s pretty damn close. I think it turned out really good. I’m really excited.”
Hibbert expects two variety of customers to purchase the sled: the collector-type who has no interest in riding it, and the rider who “wants to buy it to go out and hammer on it.”
“Some guys will just want to look at it, and there are a lot of cool features, like the white skis that I’ve been racing with at the X Games since 2000, kind of my signature ski color. White rails and the graphics and the hand guards, the all-black color — just things that are unique to my race sleds over the past 10 years.
“Then there’s the guy who’s going to put it through the paces. The sled has really awesome front suspension with the Kashima Coated FOX Float EVOL X shocks, handguards, the grippy seat cover, all these things that make it perform better and make the guy that’s riding it feel like he’s riding a race sled. It’s the experience that you’re looking for. It’s got a lot of unique characteristics that are going to make it appealing and fun to ride. It’s not an easy trail rider’s sled. I want to see some guys hammering on it, catching some air.”
As a youngster, Hibbert didn’t have to look far to find his ideal replica sled. His dad, highly successful snowmobile racer Kirk Hibbert, had plenty of dream sleds.
“I was kind of spoiled and was basically able to have the replica sled of my dreams at that point,” Tucker said.
With the release of a replica race sled under his belt, Hibbert plans to continue to build his brand by connecting with fans. His online store at tuckerstore.mybigcommerce.com has shipped to fans from numerous countries.
“When I first started out racing, it was all about racing and having fun and trying to win. Winning’s cool, but I’ve worked really hard the last five, seven years to turn this into a business and trying to do the best I can to connect with my fans and let them be a part of my racing,” he said. “That’s something I’ve really enjoyed with our merchandise and clothing line over the last three years. The fans get excited, they feel like they’re part of the team when they can walk away with a replica T-shirt or hat. The replica snowmobile is just an extension of that, to give the fans a taste of racing and hopefully help them feel what I feel when I’m out there on the track.”
Orders will determine the number of his sleds that will be produced, but Hibbert estimates a figure in the range of 700-1,200.