Let’s get this out of the way right up front: We truly have fond memories of Bob Bracey, and the products this Michigan-based innovator created.
With a background in the automotive market yet a passion for over-snow transportation, Bracey tried, tried and tried again to bring cockpit-style snowmobiles to the market. His most successful launch was probably his first — the Raider. It is this week’s featured ad for Snow Goer’s Vintage Snowmobile Ad Tuesday.
The Raider grew out of Bracey’s Leisure Vehicles Inc., company in model year 1971, though their development can be traced back to 1969. The machine featured twin tracks in the rear and dual skis up front, and thus promised to be more stable that other snowmobiles at the time. Another selling point was the cockpit seating position — you “drove” a Raider (and subsequent cockpit snowmobiles), you didn’t ride it.
The Raider started as a single machine, but it soon had a sibling (the Roamer), and then specific Raider models (the Bandit, 34TT, 44TT, Hawk, Eagle and Double Eagle). In all, it is estimated that 20,000 Raiders were built before the company shut down in 1975.
Bracey wasn’t done with the concept, however — far from it. He returned with the Manta a couple of times in the 1970s and 1980s, and then in the 1990s he launched the Trail Roamer, all based on the cockpit style. We remember meeting up with Bob for a test drive of the Trail Roamer in West Yellowstone, Montana, in about 1995 — his enthusiasm for his inventions was infectious. Up until the time when he died in 2003 at age 66, Bracey never totally gave up on his dream. For his untiring efforts, Bracey is being inducted into the Snowmobile Hall Of Fame on February 16.
To see this trade ad for the Raider in full glory, simply click on the photo below and it will blow up to a larger size on your screen, uninterrupted. To subscribe to Snow Goer magazine, click here. And here are links to past Vintage Snowmobile Ad Tuesday features.