Rader grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and worked in mines while serving as a technical inspector for the USSA snowmobile racing circuit. He was operating an industrial supply company in the early 1990s when Tom Rager Sr., currently Polaris' racing director, asked Rader to work for him, coordinating the Ski-Doo racing program. When Rager joined Polaris as racing manager in August 2000, he immediately hired Rader as racing coordinator. The two then led the rebuilding of the Polaris racing program.
"Billy took care of the 'B Team' programs, assisted me with outside sponsorships, and he dealt heavily with the ISR [the racing sanctioning body]," Rager said.
Rager, a close friend of Rader's for more than 20 years, remembers his friend and colleague fondly.
"He was extremely well-liked and everyone in the industry knows how instrumental he was in rebuilding this Polaris program," Rager said of Rader. "His specialty was working with young talent, the father-son race teams, nurturing them to get them to the next level. He worked with people like [Pro racers] TJ Gulla and D.J. Eckstrom and helped them as they rose through the program."
Scott Judnick, co-owner of the Judnick Motorsports snocross racing team, also remembered Rader as having a great influence on his racers and others.
"I can remember when we were racing for Arctic Cat - this is our 10th year with Polaris - Bill would always come up and talk to you at the track, give you encouragement. He was a great sportsman. He worked with the Sport-class guys and he'd go trailer to trailer and make sure everybody had what they needed and give them input. ... Bill was a big part of our team and our success and the championships we've won over the years."
Judnick is preparing commemorative decals for racers to put on their snowmobiles in Rader's honor.
A memorial service for Rader was held this morning in Wausau, Wis. Rader is survived by his wife Tammy and daughter Dana.