If the Double Eagle Raider snowmobiles were produced today, would they have survived and thrived? The invention and brainchild of Bob Bracey, these innovative (and decidedly odd-looking) snowmobiles were definitely ahead of their time – or maybe they were just a concept looking for a market?
Once again, thanks to Doug Williamson of the Cranbrook Snowmobile Club as he was able to capture a great photo of this Double Eagle Raider owned by a Cranbrook vintage snowmobile enthusiast at the club’s February vintage rally and Poker Run. Raider snowmobiles are even somewhat of novelty in the collector market because they are so unique and not too easy to find.
Raider Snowmobiles were produced by Leisure Vehicles, Inc. from 1971-1975. The company, Leisure Vehicles, Inc. was founded by Bob Bracey who had assisted a few years earlier in the development of the legendary Ford Mark IV Le Mans race cars. Bracey was at the time an engineer at Kar Kraft.
Raider snowmobiles are especially unique for their use of a rear-mounted engine, twin-track design and cockpit seating, all of which were revolutionary ideas for the snowmobile industry in the 1970s.
Here’s a little early history of the Raider as posted on Wikipedia: “The first production model year was 1971, though the sled had been in development since 1969. There were two 1971 models, the Raider and the Roamer. The 1971 Raider featured a single cylinder JLO 2-stroke engine in the beginning of the model year, but later may have switched to CCW. The 1971 Roamer featured a 10 HP Briggs and Stratton 4-cycle engine. The production numbers are unknown, but it is believed that approximately 50 '71 Roamers and 50 '71 Raiders were produced. 1971 Raiders and Roamers featured a twist grip throttle, which was found to be hard to control in bumpy conditions.The 1972 Raider was significantly redesigned from the 1971 model year. It was larger, longer, featured redesigned tracks, longer skis and rear shocks, along with the leaf sprung rear skids, and many more Raider specific manufactured parts. For the 1972 model year, there were four Raider models; the 290, 340, 400, and 440. The number represents the size of the CCW engine for each model. The most common seem to be the 400cc, followed by the 290cc. This was probably due to engine availability. Most have electric starting. Some '72 440 models have been found with Hirth engines. 400 models are most often found with a standard tachometer; 440 models came standard with a tach, and a speedometer.”
Would snowmobile visionary Bob Bracey's Double Eagle Raider make it in today’s hyper performance-oriented market? We can only speculate, but he certainly produced an "eye-catcher" or should we say "head-turner" back in the 1970’s!
Do you have a vintage sled restoration? Tell us about it! We would love to share your old sled story.