A building, an era comes to an end
For about 50 years, 110 East Main Street in Lake Bronson has housed Braget Auto Repair/KBR Chassis. Now all it houses is a concrete slab topped by three semi-loads of material that once sat in the building. The rest of the material takes up a little more than a quarter of Kevin Braget’s home garage/shop in Lake Bronson— across the railroad tracks and just over a quarter mile from the now former home of the Braget Auto Repair/KBR Chassis building.
Due to the building’s poor condition, second-generation owner Kevin Braget decided to tear down the blue tin building; it was torn down on July 20, 2020. This put not only an unofficial end to this business, but also an end to a building that has housed many businesses before it.
Braget’s father, Walter, rented the back third portion for his Braget Auto Repair business sometime in 1970. The entire building is 50 feet wide by 96 feet long.
Walter bought the entire building in 1974. He operated his business there until 1991— being semi-retired, according to Kevin, at that time. While in business, Walter provided general auto repair, including auto, truck and tractor repair. During the 1970’s, he also built his own race cars in this shop.
As for Kevin, he became a racer himself in 1976 to 1978. He quit before getting back into racing in 1985. That year, he started a racecar-building business, KBR Chassis —not yet inside his father’s auto repair building.
“I love the sport. I came back into it and started helping people (with their cars) at home here in my previous garage,” Kevin said.
It started with him just building a car for one friend, but it just continued to grow from there eventually into a full-time, year-round business. After being in his previous garage, Kevin rented a building uptown in Lake Bronson— the old Danielson Garage Body Shop— for his business before moving it into his father’s auto repair building in 1991. At that time, he essentially took over his dad’s business, known as Braget Auto Repair/KBR Chassis.
While in this shop, Kevin built racecars full-time from 1991 to 2012. During Kevin’s whole racecar-building career, he built many classes of cars, including modifieds, pure stocks, street stocks, super stocks, and late models. From about 2001 to 2008, he also built super trucks— ones that raced in Winnipeg.
He slowed down with racecar-building in 2012, returning to doing more general auto mechanic work until closing the business in November 2019. He continued to do general auto mechanic work in his home garage from about January to April, when it then got quiet then due to COVID-19.
From 1992 to 2007, he raced modifieds, but never as a full-time racer. He even raced with his oldest son Mike in 2005 and 2007. Kevin and his wife of nearly 37 years, Arnita, have three adult children: Mike (married to Ashlynn), Austin, and Mitchell.
Asked about how he felt about the family business lasting about 50 years, Kevin said, “It just tells me I got older.”
This business provided more than just a livelihood for Kevin.
“There’s a lot (of memories from the shop building and business),” Kevin said. “— mostly the racecars, all the people that I worked with, all the races we won, track championships we won, friends I made.”
To see the complete story, read the August 27 issue of the North Star News in print or online. To learn more about the history of this building, read an upcoming issue of the North Star News.