Alabama Speedway Track History
TO THE STARS"
of the all-time greats, Freddie Fryar
its history, South Alabama Speedway has had its share of
ups and downs. There have been years when the track was completely
closed down and years when it was said to be the best track in
Alabama. The list of drivers that have competed at the banked oval
include some of the legends of NASCAR – Bobby, Donnie and Davey
Allison, Neil Bonnett, David Pearson, Pete Hamilton, Rusty
Wallace, Darrell Waltrip and Red Farmer, Busch Grand National
Champions - David Green and Steve Grissom, All Pro Champions
Darrell Brown and Jody Ridley, and a virtual Who’s Who among
short track stars. Drivers such as three time Late Model Sportsman
National Champion L. D. Ottinger, two time Late Model Sportsman
National Champion Butch Lindley, Mike Alexander, Bob Pressley,
Freddie Fryar, Dick Anderson, Rick Crawford, Dave Mader III, Gary
“Hotshoes” Balough, Hut Stricklin, Stanley Smith, Wayne
Niedecken Sr., Wayne Niedecken Jr., Rat Lane, Billy McGinnis,
Ronnie Sanders, Mickey Gibbs and Dickie Davis have raced at SAS.
Add to that list local heroes C. L. Fisher, Jackie
Young, Nix Bruce, Wayne Newton, Earnie Dean, Bob Bean, LaDon
Smith, and Sonny Glover among others, the track has certainly had
its Saturday night battles.
Lane takes checkers at SAS in the mid 70’s. ( Tony Martin
Allison visited SAS in the AMC Hornet. (Tony Martin photo)
track opened on June 9, 1973 as Twin City Speedway. The track
was built as a 1/2-mile oval, with 12 degrees banked turns. It
was later discovered that a mistake had been made in measuring
and the track actually was 4/10 mile. It was owned and operated
by Twin City Speedway Corp., a group of 10 Opp and area
businessmen and headed by Jack Foley. C.L. Fisher won the first
Late Model Sportsman feature. On
July 7, the track was closed so another inch of asphalt could be
added to the surface. On August 18, a 100-lap Grand Opening race
was held. Neil Bonnett held off Red Farmer, Joel Watkins and
Donnie Allison for the win. The
Deep South 100 closed out the season. Pete Hamilton set a new
track record of 16.80 and won the 100-lap feature. C. L. Fisher
was crowned Late Model Sportsman Champion and Wayne Money
Hamilton is all smiles after winning the Deep South 100
saw a new manager, Stormy Weathers, and the start of a South
Alabama tradition, the Rattler. The track held mostly weekly shows
with Late Model Sportsman and Spectator classes. C. L. Fisher
defended his Sportsman championship.
the direction of Charles Grant of Raceway Enterprises of
Pensacola, the 1975 season kicked off with the 2nd annual Rattler
100. After a record weekend, the track closed for a month to
address a problem with the restrooms. Racing continued until June
7, when the speedway was closed for two weeks. The track reopened
on June 21, with Fred Colquett as manager, running Late Model
Sportsman and Hobby Cars, which were less expensive than the
City opened in 1976 with Colquett at the reins. The track was now
being referred to as a 4/10 mile. The big news of the year was
Dave Mader III winning 7 Late Model Sportsman features in a row.
The season closed with the Cam2 100. Buck Simmons took the
checkers over Donnie Allison, Red Farmer, Dave Mader III, and
Simmons (81), Neil Bonnett (12), Dave Mader III (73), and
Donnie Allison (88) battle during the
Cam2 100. (Leonard Caldwell photo)
Farmer and Mader battle for third place in the Cam2 100.
(Leonard Caldwell photo)
Simmons accepts his trophy after winning the Cam2 100.
(Leonard Caldwell photo)
was Twin City Speedway Corporations last year as track owners.
Colquett was still manager. The season opened with the Rattler
100, which was postponed for two weeks. Weekly racing continued
through the year.
Williams of Montgomery bought the speedway in 1978 and renamed it
South Alabama Motor Speedway. Of course, the year opened with the
Rattler 100. On June 25, Jody Ridley won the NASCAR Late Model
Sportsman “Pepsi 150” over Scott Carlson. Racing was held on a
was a busy year at South Alabama. Williams took the pace car
to Daytona and took top honors in the Daytona 500 Pace Car
Beauty Contest. The season opened with the Rattler 100. Jody
Ridley won the second annual “Pepsi 150” NASCAR Late
Model Sportsman race on June 23. Ridley came back on
September 1st to win the All Pro 200 National Championship
Late Model race, beating Butch Lindley and Billy McGinnis.
ownership continued through the 1982 Rattler 100. The track closed
after the Rattler and remained closed until Lamar Hallford and
David Lummus reopened the track in 1984. Hallford and Lummus took
a different approach, planning just 3 or 4 major shows each
year. Their ideas worked as 7500 fans crowded into the speedway
with another 1500 having to be turned away at the Rattler 100.
After the successful Rattler, 1000 seats were added, along with 2
concessions. The track also hosted the All Pro Super Series twice
in 1984. Butch Lindley won both races.
1985, the track held two All-American Challenge Series races, the
Rattler 100 and a June 22, 125 lap race won by Mickey Gibbs. The
Rattler again drew 7500 fans. Lummas and Halford’s last year as
promoters, 1986, brought more publicity to the track as the All
American Challenge Series Rattler 100 was taped by ESPN and shown
later. A June 14 AACS race was won by Daniel Keene.
Caughey and Jerry Lawley co-promoted the speedway in 1987, but the
track closed shortly after the start of the season due in part to
rain outs of major events.
Morrow was the owner from mid 1988 through 1990. The track was
remodeled in 1989 with new signs, buildings, roofs, and concession
stands. The backstretch was also widened to help drivers. Morrow
continued the tradition of the Rattler, plus hosted weekly shows.
and Tina Brackin owned the track from 1991 through mid 1994.
Brackin catered to the local drivers and was known for having
large fields of cars. It was normal to have more than 100 cars in
the pits every Saturday. The grandstands were normally packed
also. The Rattler race showcased the local drivers, but the
Coca-Cola 6 pack was held for Late Models.
sold the track to Hershal Benefield in mid 1994. He stayed on
until the end of year, with Benefield taking full control in 1995.
Late Models returned to the Rattler under sanctioning of the
Southern All Star Series. The Southern All Stars also visited in
October 1995 with Johnny Brazier taking the win. Benefield owned
the track until 1997.
Dykes and Henry Holley purchased the speedway in December 1997.
With just over two months before the 1998 season opening Rattler
100, Dykes and Holley set out to renovate the aging speedway. The
major project was repaving the 25-year-old surface. The pits were
redone with concrete, with air, water, and electricity accessible
to each stall. Nearly 500 boards were replaced in
the bleachers and new paint was everywhere. The name was changed
to South Alabama Speedway and the number of classes was cut from 7
to 4. The emphasis was building the local car count. In
addition, special Late Model shows were run, the first of which
was the Rattler 100. Dave Mader III won a July 25th 125- lap race.
A November 150-lap race was cut short by rain with Mike Harmon
(#24) declared the winner. Class champions for 1998 were: Joey
Watkins-Sportsman, Rick Northey-Super Stock, Don Huff- Pure Stock,
and Jeff Smith- Street Stock.
wife, Sandra, became a third partner in SAS to begin the 1999
season. A new class, IMCA Modified, was added to the weekly
lineup. SAS was one of two asphalt tracks in the U.S. running
under the IMCA sanction.
Rattler opened the season with the largest field of cars in recent
years. After a two-year absence, the Southern All Star Series
returned for an April 14th date with Terry Mason Jr.
taking the win. Holley sold his interest in the track in June to
concentrate on other interest. On July 13th, Bubba
Naumann Jr. held off a late charge from Kevin Dicks to take his
first career Late Model win. Ronnie Sanders ended the season with
a win in a November 18th Late Model race. Track
Champions for 1999 were: Heath Mills- Limited Late Model, Royce
Johnston- Super Stock, Rege Hellett-IMCA Modified, Jody
Henderson-Pure Stock, and Jeff Smith- Street Stock.
brought on cost reduction at SAS. Regular Adult Grandstand
admission was reduced to $5.00 , and a new inexpensive class,
Roadrunners, was introduced. The season kicked off with a
successful Rattler weekend. The Southern All Star series returned
in April with Johnny Henderson taking his first series win. The
SARA Late Model Sportsman series made its first trip out of its
home state of Florida, visiting SAS on June 10. Mike McCreary Jr.
won the historic race. Lee Hansard (#89) won a July 22nd
Late Model race. The
SARA series made a return trip with Bobby Beauchemin taking the
win. The season closed with a 125-lap Late Model race that DuWayne
Middlebrooks (#10) dominated. IMCA Modified driver Jeff Rudd won
18 features during the season. Track Champions for the season
were: Royce Johnston- Limited Late Model, Jody Henderson- Super
Stock, Jeff Rudd- IMCA Modified, Jason Kendrick-Street Stock,
Harold Hurt- Roadrunner.
continued to grow at SAS in 2001.
After a competitive Rattler
the SARA Series made its first of two stops in 2001, with Wayne
taking the win in the April Fools Day race. The Southern All Star
in May with Ronnnie Sanders the winner of the 125-lap event. Lee
returned to South Alabama for a July 14, 125-lap Late Model race,
ended up the same place as his last visit, in Victory Lane. The
visited again on August 18. This time, eventual series champion
dominated the event. Andy Antinoro won a September 22 Late Model
Jody Henderson won the second annual Super Stock 125 and David
a 125-lap Modified race. There were 43 different winners in the 6
Track champions for the year were: Royce Johnston-Late Model, Bill
Super Stock, Doug Rogers-IMCA Modified, Jeff Smith-Super Street,
Streetman- Street Stock, and Tim Hudson-Roadrunner (with 19
Peel matched his car number in Feature wins in 2002.
both races during the Rattler Weekend and went on to
capture the season championship.
Norris (11) closes in on Keith Cahela while Dennis Reno Jr
(1) battles with Brad Lemley. This action came during the
September Super Late
Rattler opened one of the busiest season’s ever at South Alabama.
The local Late Model class was dropped from the weekly line up,
while the Mini Sportsman Racing Association ran on a bi-weekly
basis. The SARA Series made the first of two stops in April with
Wayne Morris taking the win. May was a busy month with the Southern
All Star SuperTruck Series in town. In the 100-lap feature, Brandon
Brown took home his four straight SuperTruck winner’s trophy. The
following week, Donald Long held off a late charge from Dale Little
to win a 100-lap Super Late Model event. In June, Wayne Willard
picked up the first of two 2002 wins at SAS in the Southern All Star
125. Ronnie Sanders won a July 27 Late Model 100. In August, Wayne
Morris made in two for two in the SARA Series at SAS. September saw
Duwayne Middlebrooks return to victory Lane after a 100-lap Late
Model event. There were repeat winner in the Super Stock 125 and
Modified 125 as Jody Henderson and David Smith took the wins.
Willard took the win in a Late Model 150 in November. Unfortunately,
the season ended with a bad accident on the front stretch that tore
down part of the catch fence and flag stand. Flagman Jim Thomas was
thrown from his perch. Although the scene was ugly, only minor
injuries were sustained. Champions for 2002 were Jody Henderson-
Super Stock, Kevin Peel- Modified (18 wins), Harold Hurt- Super
Street, Brian Martin- Street Stock (17 wins), Sam Smith- Roadrunner,
and Ken Younce Sr.- Mini Sportsman.
The Vintage cars became a
regular class at SAS in 2003 and provided plenty of close
Will Mack won 15 Roadrunner
Features in 2003 on his way to the class
with the best Rattler in years, South Alabama Speedway
again had a busy season. The Rattler saw one of the best fields in
recent years, but one driver was missing, Ronnie Sanders. Sanders
came back to show who is the king of Late Model racing at South
Alabama, winning the next three Super Late Model events. In April,
Sanders led the first 74 laps of the race before pitting for tires
during the races second caution period. Regan Baker took the lead
after the caution, but Sanders retook the lead on lap 89 and went
on to win. In May, Billy Melvin took the lead on lap 15 and went
on to win a 100-lap O’Reilly Southern All Star SuperTruck Feature.
On June 28, Sanders took advantage of Dale Little’s misfortune to
score his second win. Little was pulling away from Sanders when
his car caught fire with just 17 laps to go. Sanders led the
remaining laps to take the win. Sanders came back on August 23 to
take his third Late Model victory. Sanders’ crew got him out of
the pits first during a lap 53 caution period. He took the lead
only one lap after the restart and cruised home for the win. Jody
Henderson won the long distance Super Stock race for the third
straight year. On October 11, Charlie Bradberry returned to South
Alabama to win a $125-lap Super Late Model event. After battling
with Dale Little for a couple of laps, Bradberry took the lead on
lap 111 and pulled away for a five car length win. To close out
the season, the O’Reilly SuperTrucks came to town for the South
Alabama Tailgate Party, which featured Twin 100’s for the series,
plus the 3rd Annual Modified 125. Todd Jones took the
win in the Modified race, taking the lead on lap 79 and holding
off Mike Johnson and Kevin Peel’s late charges. In the first
SuperTruck 100, Chris Serio became the series first repeat winner
of 2003, in the 12th race. Serio took the lead on lap
33 and led the rest of the way to take the win. In the 2nd
feature, eventual series’ Champion David Odell took the lead on
lap 52 and went on to win.
Champions for the year were David Ashley- Super Stock, Kevin
Peel-Modified, Teddy Sasser- Vintage, Stacy Bedsole- Street Stock,
and Will Mack- Roadrunner. There were 42 different winners in the
five local classes
The 2004 season got off to
a great start with a fantastic Rattler Weekend. The largest
field of cars in several years was on hand for the event along
with the largest crowd in years. The weekend got the season off
in the right direction. In April, Wayne Willard backed up his
Rattler win with a win in a 100-lap Late Model race. Willard
crashed in afternoon practice when his throttle stuck on the
backstretch and he ended up in the bushes surrounding the
track’s property. Willard and crew went to work and made
repairs. He set fast time in qualifying and then took the lead
on lap 3 and led the rest of the way to take the win. On May 8,
Jeff Wainwright led all 100 laps to win the O’Reilly Southern
All Star SuperTruck race. Bubba Pollard won the 100-lap O’Reilly
Southern All Star Pro Late Model Series event on June 5. On
August 21 won the Super Late Model 100. Hogan outran such
notable drivers as Willard, Wayne Anderson, Gary Helton, and Ken
McFarland to take the win. On September 4, Chad Roberts won the
6th Annual Street Stock Maddness. Roberts took the
lead with 8 laps to go when Scott Morse’s engine let go. Charlie
Bradberry held off Ryan Crane’s late race challenge to win an
October 16 Late Model 100. Crane was able to stick his nose
under Bradberry with two laps to go, but entered the turn too
hot and slid up the track, allowing Bradberry to slip away.
Steven Davis won the 5th Annual Super Stock 125.
Scotty Anderson was leading when his engine went sour with 12
laps to go. South Alabama closed out the 2004 season on November
12-13 with the 2nd Annual South Alabama Tailgate
Party featuring the O’Reilly Southern All Star SuperTrucks in
Twin 100’s. Jeff Wainwright led all 100 laps to win the first
night. The second night was postponed twice due to weather. It
was finally run on November 28. Okie Mason used a borrowed truck
to take the win. Mason had to start in the back, but took the
lead on lap 85 and went on to win.
Champions for 2004 were
Super Stock- Scotty Anderson (16 wins), Vintage- Duane Bates,
Modified- Jamie Ater, Street Stock- Derek Deese, Roadrunner-
The 2005 season got off to the
biggest start South Alabama Speedway has seen. The annual
Rattler Weekend was the biggest in years, in the pits and
grandstands. Donald Long backed up his second place finish in
the Rattler with a win in a May 14 Late Model 100. Ronnie
Sanders was second, Duwayne Middlebrooks third, Regan Baker
fourth, and Wes Loyd fifth. On June 25, Bubba Pollard held off a
late race charge by Dale Little to take the win in a June 24
Late Model 100. Long was third with Sanders fourth, and Cale
Gale fifth. On August 27, Bradberry and Pollard battled over the
last 20 laps in a 100-lap Late Model race. Pollard held off
Bradberry for several laps before Bradberry was able to get
under Pollard with five laps to go to grab the victory. Ronnie
Sanders was third, Scot Smith fourth and Adam Reed fifth. On
October 15, Bradberry passed Donnie Wilson on lap 92 to take
home the checkers. Wilson finished second, followed by Korey
Ruble, Sanders, and Dennis Reno Jr.
Champions for 2005 were Greg Adams-
Super Stock, Duane Bates- Vintage, Kevin Peel- Modified, Sam
Smith- Street Stock, Jason Singletary- Roadrunner, and Max