The race is on: hometown hero returns to face home team

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The story of the AMSOIL Championship Snocross this weekend begins and ends with sled superstar Tucker Hibbert. For Hibbert, racing this weekend in Jackson is a return home. Born and raised in Driggs, Hibbert caught the need for speed while riding the mountains and valleys in the region. He’s been racing Arctic Cat sleds since he was 2.

The story inside the story is Woodies Racing. Paul Woodie, owner of Flat Creek Towing, heads one of the sport’s most respected race teams today. He has seven riders in his stable including two hotshots from Sweden (Johan Lidman, Nisse Kjellstrom), a healthy New Yorker back from injury (Mike George), and Woodie’s own son (Kaden) and daughter (Taven).

The race team has been around since the inception of snocross racing and was instrumental in getting this event to Jackson. Woodies Racing was named ISOC Team of the Year last season and they hope to have Hibbert looking over his shoulder all weekend long.

Tuckered out

Tucker Hibbert likes to put the #68 out front and keep it there. (John Hanson)

Hibbert is the guy with the bull’s-eye on his back, and his back is the view most of the field has of him at every race. The 33-year-old is a literal living legend and the world’s leading snowmobile snocross racer. He’s a 14-time X Games medalist, 10-time national champ, a 3-time ESPY Award Male Action Sports Athlete nominee, and the winningest rider ever. It’s been said Tucker is so good because he hates to lose. More accurate would be: he doesn’t know how.

T-Train, as he is known to some, wins more than half the races he enters. No one does that in racing. Not Richard Petty. Not Mario Andretti. All the competition usually sees of Hibbert is the #68 getting smaller and smaller.

The last time Hibbert was in the area was last winter for Targhee’s Hill Climb. He hasn’t squeezed a throttle at Snow King in over a decade when he ran at Hill Climb.

Hibbert tweeted recently: “Most of you know me as a Minnesota guy but my deep roots are in the Teton Valley…Grateful for the welcome I’m getting in Idaho/Wyoming. Feels good to be back where I spent my younger years—it’s where I fell in love with riding and learned the importance of working hard.”

Tucker gets some last-minute advice from dad Kirk. (John Hanson)

Hibbert granted Buckrail a prerace interview and talked about the importance of getting out front, especially on shorter tracks.

“With the snow situati0n there I expect we’ll have a smaller track; I’m guessing maybe 30-second laps,” Hibbert said. “The passing opportunities are fewer. It’s more important to get a good start, especially in the main event that has a full line of 15 guys. You don’t want to be stuck in the back on a small track.”

Hibbert won the main event both nights in Duluth November 24-26. It was the series first stop of eight races. Hibbert has the points lead with 110, leading runner-up Kody Kamm, who has 100 points. The upstart 23-year-old Wisconsin racer is one of a handful on the planet who have ever beaten Hibbert.

“This year competition is really strong. Last race there was a handful of guys going pretty fast. Polaris, Skidoo, and other brands were riding strong,” Hibbert admitted. “I have the points lead for the championship after Duluth and will try to carry that momentum into this weekend in Jackson.”

Hibbert also said, for those spectators only familiar with Hill Climb at Snow King, snocross racing is a whole ‘nother animal.

“It’s a lot different than what people may have seen at Hill Climb. In Hill Climb you race one at a time, and you are able to focus and pick out your line to make it to the top,” Hibbert shared. “In snocross you are also trying to find the fastest line around the track, but you have to deal with other racers; like 7 to 15 riders on the track at any given time. The track gets rough and chewed up, like at Hill Climb. There’s some bumping and banging that goes on.”

Woodie’s World

Kaden Woodie catches some air. (Woodies Racing)

“We have the largest race team in the series,” said team owner Paul Woodie. That fact is immediately evident at any track they visit. Green Arctic Cat trucks and trailers are everywhere. One massive, 12,000-sf rolling shop is a state-of-the-art envy of the tour.

Woodie usually prefers to talk up the sport as much as his team.

“This is the upmost, most professional snowmobile organization in the world. What you are going to see here in Jackson is world-class caliber and extremely professional. It’s the NASCAR of snowmobile racing,” he said.

Taven Woodie turned pro this year and is already one to watch on the series. (Woodies Racing)

Woodie, who lives in Alpine, will watch with special interest whenever the #980 (Kaden) and #873 (Taven) are on the track. Kaden was on the podium in Duluth in the Pro-Lite Division. Taven turned pro just this year and looks to run down series point-leaders Megan Brodeur and Elina Ohman.

We’re racing…now!

Opening ceremony begins today at 3pm, followed by Round 1 of the Pro, and Round 2 of Pro-Lite. Pro final main event tonight is at 6:05pm. Opening ceremony Saturday is at 5pm, with racing up until 8:05pm. Amateurs, juniors, women’s divisions take place during the mornings and early afternoon.

Points leaderboard headed into JH event. (ISOC)

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