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Issue Date: May 2008 Issue

Off-Road Warriors

Courtenay Roberts
It’s targeted at dirt lovers, sand dwellers and water seekers. Maybe that’s why General Motors chose former motocross racer Carl Zipfel to design the exterior of Hummer’s most versatile off-road creation to date. We recently talked to the Cleveland native and Cleveland Institute of Art graduate to get the grit about his roots here and his work on the new Hummer H3T, set to debut at dealerships this fall.
How did you switch from motocross racing to design?
I did a stint as a pro for a couple of years, but then I needed to find something [else] that I loved to do. I found my way down to the Cleveland Institute of Art and was amazed to find students in the industrial-design department that were sketching futuristic cars and motorcycles.

What was the biggest challenge designing the H3T?
Making sure people can customize the truck for specific [activities] —anything from racks for a snowboard to using it as a lifeguard truck.

You recently spoke at CIA. What was your advice to the students?
Find something you enjoy doing and can dedicate your life to. I didn’t even know that people sketch futuristic designs and turn them into models [when I started college]. I thought I was going to be doing commercial art, designing album covers or something.

We heard you have a motocross track in your backyard.
I have a track in my backyard for my kids, and me and some friends. My buddies and I will usually go at it for a few laps for that day’s bragging rights, and my son and daughter have, naturally, been testing each other since Day One.

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