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Twin Trackers Gain Popularity in Early 1900's by Steve Pierce

Twin Trackers Gain Popularity in Early 1900's by Steve Pierce

Bombardier's first dual track, single ski offering was the 1963 RD 8. R stood for Rotax. D signified dual,, and 8 was the horsepower of the first year, 247 cc Rotax engine. In 1965 came the famous Alpine label, which endured until 1995. The Alpine name was first issued in 1962 to a much smaller, single track model. The Invader, Valmont, and Alpine II and IV were later versions of the classic namesake. Based on a rear engine concept sled called the Mirage II, Ski Doo's Elite, featuring side-by-side seating and two steering skis, was made from 193-1975 and 1978-1982. It was re-released in 2004 with a closed cab, independent front suspension, and four stroke motor. Chaparral in 1969 produced a work horse with two 18-inch tracks powered by a 618cc Kohler twin, the Snowgoer. A host of companies manufactured twin trackers in the late 1960's and 1970's. No ski vehicles such as Ridge Runner, Caribou, Play Cat and Passe Par Tout were regarded more as ASVs than snowmobiles. OMC's Cushman Trackster had a floating kit as an option. Argo and others provided track conversions for their wheeled vehicles. Alsport in 1971-72 made a sit in machine with dual tracks and front wheel ski options. Bob Bracey introduced the rear engine Raider in 1972, hoping to appeal to the recreational rider. A single seat cockpit, sporty styling and narrow eight-inch twin tracks were indicative o snowmobile trail system development. In production until 1975, Bracey produced the Manta in 196 and the Trail Roamer in 2000, a four stroke state-of-the-art trail machine with independent front suspension and an $8,500 price tag. Across the pond in Sweden, Scandinavians were building twin trackers since the 1950's. Aktiv of Ostersund offered several deep snow models with and without skis through the 1980's, the best know U.S. import being the single ski Grizzly, powered by a 500cc Spirit engine. Ockelbo Industri AB made the twin track Model 800. Russia checked in with the Buran, a single ski machine powered by a 625cc Ribenski fan-cooled twin. Alpina of Vicenza, Italy currently imports utility sleds into the U.S Not all double trackers were intended for transport or cargo hauling. Behind closed doors, most major manufacturers at one time or another were building and testing double track speed machines, concept sleds, and prototype racers. Gilles Villenueve debuted the Alouette twin track racer at Ironwood, Michigan, in December of 1973. Manta fielded an oval racer. Ski Doo dominated twin track racing through the 1980's and 90's. Though never enjoying the recreational popularity of their single track cousins, the deep snow and freight hauling capabilities will keep twin trackers in service on ski slopes and in big snow country around the world.

On Sept 20, 2019, The Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum was awarded a grant of $12,500 for Operational Support from the State of Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA – ART WORKS). The grant was awarded through the MCACA peer review process and was one of 561 applications to compete for MCACA fiscal year 2019 funding. The grant requires a 1:1 match and helped the museum leverage the $12,500 of support from its annual income and the many donations from supporters. In particular the museum has received grants from the Graymont Community Economic Development Fund and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. It has also received significant donations from the Antique Snowmobile Club of America, The Midwest Vintage Snowmobile Shows, Inc., many snowmobile clubs, several recreational and snowmobile shows, the museum’s internal $1,000.00 Challenge, and many museum members. The grant funds will be applied to museum operating costs. Applicable costs include internal operations, marketing, travel to shows within the State of Michigan and cost of employees. The MCACA peer review process allows for each grant applicant to be competitively considered by a panel of in-state and out-of-state arts and culture professionals. This ensures the taxpayers, who support this project through legislative appropriations, and all other visitors or residents in Michigan will have access to the highest quality arts and cultural experiences. A complete list of grant awards around the state is available by contacting MCACA at (517) 241-4011, or by visiting the MCACA website at www.michigan.gov/arts
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