Thomas Rager Sr.
DATE OF INDUCTION: February 15, 2014
CAREER SPAN: 1985 – 2012
BRANDS RACED: Ski-Doo & Polaris
AGE AT INDUCTION: 63
Starting as a regional oval racer in 1978 and then transitioning into increasingly prominent roles within the snowmobile industry, Tom Rager Sr. grew two profoundly successful race programs while exerting a lasting influence on the entire sport of snowmobile competition. His comprehensive, long-term approach as Race Manager for the Ski-Doo and Polaris race programs cultivated emerging talents who would become some of the most successful and decorated racers of the past two decades.
Rager’s career with Ski-Doo began in 1978 as an oval racer from Nebraska competing in regional events before starting his own dealership. In 1985 he moved to northern Wisconsin, to be a district sales manager. He soon transitioned his skills to become Ski-Doo race coordinator, then North America Race Manager in 1988. There Rager combined a strategic vision with tactical acumen to retool a race program that had been primarily concentrated on Formula I twin-track oval machines into one that was stock sled-based and focused on all forms of racing. Within a handful of years, Rager’s efforts brought innumerable class wins and championships to Ski-Doo in all forms of racing, including drag, cross-country, snocross, hillclimb and oval.
For his second great act, Rager accepted the challenged to rebuild the Polaris race program beginning in 2000. Once again, Rager surrounded himself with excellent colleagues, and then hired key proven racers to achieve immediate success while simultaneously nurturing young and emerging talents. By the time Rager retired in 2012 Polaris had returned as a winning powerhouse in all venues and at every level, from Novice to Pro classes.