Honoring a Few Team Arctic Turkeys
On the eve of Thanksgiving 2014, I’d like to take a moment to honor three great turkeys.
You know them already. They’re pretty famous. And each is a good guy and a friend of mine.
But they’re definitely turkeys.
I’m talking about Team Arctic racers Brian Dick, Wes Selby and Tucker Hibbert.
They are three of the highest-profile, most-decorated racers in their current disciplines. For Brian and Wes, the discipline is cross-country, where Wes has established himself as a top-3 Pro in just a couple years after making the transition from snocross.
Brian is Wes’s teammate on the USXC circuit (as well as his boss in the Arctic Cat Engineering department) who claimed his second I-500 cross-country victory last year during a career that has seen dozens of individual race wins. Day in and day out, Brian Dick is one of the most capable and accomplished cross-country racers in the sport today.
In snocross, little more can be said about Tucker Hibbert than what is already known: He’s the all-time winningest Pro racer (95 victories and counting), a 12-time X Games medalist including winning the last seven gold ones. Simply put, he’s the best there is.
Plus like I mentioned at the outset, each of these three is a good person. Genuinely good, in fact…the kind of good that we don’t always see in racers who achieve the highest level of success.
And each is a true friend.
Yep, great racers, great people, great friends.
Apparently they’re a special breed of turkey that display their turkeyness while participating in the very racing endeavors that have made them famous.
Let’s begin with Wes Selby, who showed his feathers during the Pro Stock final at last year’s USXC cross-country in Willmar, Minn. While ripping around the course with a cadre of competitors breathing down his neck, Wes took a few moments to signal his affection for a lowly photographer standing trackside, hoping to capture the serious drama of long distance cross-country competition. Despite his turkeyness, Wes would go on to finish third place on the day.
Next up, Brian Dick and also at last year’s Willmar race. Having already won the Pro Open class earlier in the day, Brian was feeling a bit surly while knocking off laps in the Pro Stock final. Apparently racing a ZR6000R at upwards of 95 mph – with the 10 inches of sharpened carbide on each ski reacting to the deep, mismatched ice grooves on the lake surface to produce a harrowing, hooked-up dart fest – wasn’t interesting enough. Nor were the other competitors who were within spitting distance.
Because in the midst of that chaos, Brian showed exactly what a kind person he is by casually waving to the photographer (who by this point had given up hope of capturing that elusive classic image of hardcore cross-country). Brian finished second, waving to the crowd after crossing the finish line.
Finally, there’s Tucker Hibbert, who has been known to throw momentary glances at certain photographers during the occasional snocross race, like he did here (above) during a heat race at Canterbury Park in 2013. Such moments are usually brief and undetected by the live or television audience.
But turkeys are known for their flamboyance. It is their very nature. And for Tucker, that nature was on full display at the season-opening snocross in Duluth, Minn., last season.
It was the first Pro Open heat race of the weekend, which Tucker had holeshot and built a nice lead.
The television cameras were rolling, the crowd was straining to watch a master in action and the competitors were doing everything in their power to not get lapped.
Trying hard to capture the forceful grace of world’s best snocrosser, our innocent photographer had positioned himself behind a banner flag on the outside of the turn at the top of the hill, out of the view (he thought) of the racers who would be negotiating the deep holes, sharp lips and changing lines of the challenging course.
And instead of allowing the photographer to get the money shot he was searching for, Tucker rolls by in full-dork mode.
A true professional, the photographer operated his camera with one hand while expressing himself to Tucker with the left hand on the very next lap.
Snowmobile racing is serious business folks. VERY serious business!
Thanks to these turkeys, it’s also dang fun to watch. And for that I’m thankful.