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Raider, Manta & Trail Roamer ~ Revolutionizing the snowmobile industry


About Bob Bracey

Born in Detroit, Bob Bracey started his career in the auto industry, working at one time or another for each of the Big Three, the former Chrysler Corp., General Motors & Ford Motor Co. He also worked for Karkraft, a Dearborn firm where he helped develop Ford GT40 racecars. But he always was dreaming up his own inventions, especially his snowmobile & after working awhile for Leisure Vehicles in Troy (1969-1974), he went into business for himself with the creation of Three R Industries (Robert, Richard, Robert).

“Bob was one of the true pioneering entrepreneurs of snowmobiling. “He spent 30 years of great effort engineering and refining the sit-in snowmobile concept. In the 1970s his twin-tracked racing designs were very successful on the circle tracks. This was way before the Ski-Doo twin track designs (not directly affiliated with Bob Bracey). Bracey evolved his twin-tracked, rear-engine snow vehicle concept during the early ’70s with the Raider and racing Manta (ARBE). His next evolution occurred in the ’80s with the trail Manta and culminated in the ’90s with a very sophisticated Trail Roamer design (2000-2001).


Bob Bracey’s Designs

All of Bracey’s designs shared dual rubber tracks at the back. His early models relied on leaf spring front suspensions that eventually evolved into “Bob’s latest snowmobile, the Trail Roamer was a nice product.” Perhaps his biggest challenge was in the engine department. In the 1970’s his twin-tracked snowmobiles reflected the times as a variety of power plants were available. Those early Raiders used Canadian Curtis Wright (CCW) power and the later Raiders used the Kohler power. But in the ’80s and especially the ’90s, sled manufacturers had secured independent engine suppliers and Bracey had problems securing engines that could power his concepts, which is why he used 3 different manufacturers for the Mantas (Fuji, Suzuki & Polaris). The final Trail Roamer version relied on a low horsepower commercial Kohler 4-stroke with electric start, carburetors and fuel injection in the 2001 model.independent front suspension designs that proved more precise handling. “It gave you two tracks where rear tires would be on a car. It gave you a cockpit. You sat in it, and you were protected. The last version (trail roamer) had a heater, a radio, reverse and it was made for more comfort.”

Three R Industries closed upon his retirement in 2002. Robert A. Bracey, the man behind the Raider, Manta and most recently Trail Roamer twin-tracked snowmobiles, died of cancer at his home in Almont, Michigan in March 2003. He was 66  years old.  Bob was inducted into the St. Germain WI Snowmobile Hall of Fame in 2013.

We will miss you Bob. Thanks for the memories.