30th Ride With The Champs: Blair Morgan Edition

We arrived on the evening before the ride, which took place on Saturday, February 16. Saturday morning we signed in and got our bib. The blue bibs were for the ride with Blair and Tucker and yup, they ran out.

The Snowmobile Hall Of Fame Ride With The Champs has been on our short list of must-attend events for years, but honestly there are only so many weekends in the winter and it has just fallen by the wayside. Last week we got a tip that one of this year’s inductees would be in attendance and going on the ride, and that inductee happened to be Blair Morgan. Not only that, but his long-time team manager Jamie Anseeuw would be there as well as a bunch of the old Blair Morgan Racing Team crew. Just as our heads were about ready to explode at the thought of riding with Blair Morgan we also learned Tucker Hibbert would be on the ride too. Yup, that was it, we were in. What follows is a little glimpse into the event, one where we may or may not have ridden two-up with Tucker Hibbert at one point.

Here's where you sign up for the ride you want to go on. None of them is a bad choice. I'd guess there were close to 100 sleds at this year's event.

Blair arrived the night before. The entire time he was there he had people coming up to him to tell him what he meant to them. Especially kids. Here a guy talks with him while his old mechanic, Gilles Thibault, listens in.

The Ride With The Champs is a way for the Hall of Fame to raise money. One of the things they had going was a silent auction. Need a shock for your '76 Liquidator? They had one.

How about an old snow flap signed by Blair Morgan?

This Rupp Super Snow Sport model has to be pretty rare.

Someone spent a lot of time building this baby rocker modeled after an Arctic Cat Panther. Someone was bidding fast and furious on this, we won't say who.

This is Barry Dawson, he was Blair's mechanic in his early days on Arctic Cat. Oh the stories he tells...

Mark Anseeuw (L) talks with Ski-Doo Race Manager Tom Lawrence. Mark is Jamie Anseeuw's brother and was part of Blair's crew when he raced.

Before the ride, all of the celebrities (they got the gold bibs) got up to introduce themselves. This was so you would know what famous racers may or may not be in your group. Everyone's laughing because Blair just said, "If you see the No. 68 out in the brush it wasn't me."

That's Loren Anderson, he's president of the Hall Of Fame and helped found it along with C.J. Ramstad. He announced he would be stepping down as president within the next year. No word on who will replace him but we vote for John Sandberg.

Group photo. The host for the event was the Whitetail Inn.

Tucker had his fair share of people coming up to him as well.

Getting ready to hit the trails in the Hall of Fame parking lot. That's Blair talking to John Sandberg and Daniel Cedolia of BRAAP Films.

Tucker and his wife Mandi share some stories with Gilles Thibault before the ride.

After about a 30-mile ride the group stopped at the Thirsty Whale in Minocqua. On the way there we got separated from the group and rode most of the way with former Champ racer and 24 Hours Of Eagle River racer Mike Campbell, which was a blast. During lunch Tucker and Blair shared stories and caught up on life.

Much autograph signing went on throughout the event. Here, Jamie Anseeuw signs a fan's jacket.

In this group photo are all the people who came to the event who played an integral part in Blair's career. IN the blue bibs in the back are Barry Dawson, Gilles Thibault, Danny Anseeuw, Mark Anseeuw, Tom Lawrence, Remy Sorin and Cory Grant. Sitting on sleds are Tucker, Blair and Jamie.

He did it. While we were shooting these photos a guy on a Ski-Doo rode by, looked at Blair, looked away and then looked back again right away. People who saw these guys on the trails could not have been expecting it, so I could only imagine what they were thinking. And how do you go back and tell your buddies you saw Blair Morgan and Tucker Hibbert when you went riding last weekend? No pictures, no proof.

On the ride back we may or may not have gotten lost. One guy pulled up while we were sitting here and he had on some Castle Monster gear. He eyeballed Tucker and didn't look like he was making the connection, looked more like he was thinking, "That guy's Monster gear looks way cooler than mine."

Photo op. Blair was riding his brake a lot so this scene stunk like burnt brake pads. Blair said he was riding "Ryan Simons style."

With no disrespect intended, based on what we observed this past weekend, if I had to compare these two riders and what they mean to the sport I'd say Blair is to snocross what Jeremy McGrath is to Supercross. You can call Ricky Carmichael the GOAT and James Stewart is fast, but McGrath will always be synonymous with Supercross as Blair will be synonymous with snocross. Superman.

After the ride, we headed for the induction dinner. This never-worn Blair Morgan pullover sold for $1150 if I remember right.

Jamie put his personal helmet up for auction too. It is one of the helmets that sold on eBay after Blair's accident back in 2008. So this helmet helped Blair and now it has helped the Hall of Fame - proceeds from these things went to the HOF.

Tucker was high bidder on the helmet at $1K. The little girl on the right in the white dress is Blair's daughter Breck.

This is a letter that Ski-Doo sent to Blair because they could not attend the event. All the bigwigs signed it.

Four guys were inducted in the Hall, one of them was drag racer Norman Ball.

Bob Bracey, who worked tirelessly on the twin track snowmobile concept, was inducted posthumously.

John Zeglin founded the Waconia Ride In, the world's largest snowmobiling event.

HOF board member and our pick for the next President John Sandberg did a great job introducing Blair Morgan. He said Blair may not have been the first rider to stand up, but once Blair hit the scene within five races everyone was riding like him (or trying to). He also made the point that it was fun to watch Blair ride, which is true and probably one of the reasons why so many people admire him.

Next, Tucker got up and spoke. He said one of the reasons he is so good is because of what Blair taught him. So there ya go, if you want to beat Tucker go learn from Blair. Good luck.

Tucker also read a letter penned by Roger Skime, in which Roger called Blair his hero. Very nice.

Tom Lawrence spoke on behalf of the people at Ski-Doo and told about Blair's unmatched will to win.

Never much for words, Blair downplayed his accomplishments in snocross and said it was "easy" for him. He also said he was going to thank his sponsors but said he decided not to "because it's really all about friendship."

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