THROUGH THE YEARS
history of the speedway's most famed event
you talk about short track racing, there are several prestigious
races that come to mind. The Snowball Derby, the All-American 400,
the World Classic, and the National Short Track Championship are a
few. Another race has quietly established a long history of
competitive races with big name stars and a winners list that
includes some of the best short track drivers ever. It is the
The first Rattler was held in 1974. The track was still known as
Twin City Speedway and the event was the Rattler Twin 50's. In the
first 50-lap feature, Phil Wendt of Mobile led the first
half of the race, before being passed by Pensacola's Dickie Davis.
Davis held the lead for a few laps before experiencing engine
problems and pitting for the night. Wendt led the rest of the way
to take the win. Wayne Niedecken, Sr. finished a close second.
Third and fourth went to Johnny Day and Red Farmer. The second
50-lap feature saw Dennie Rewis take a half lap victory over
Farmer. Wendt started in the rear by virtue of his earlier win,
but came back to challenge Farmer and finish third. Day and
Niedecken rounded out the top 5.
Hamilton accepts the winner's trophy after the 1975
1975, the Rattler 100 was all Pete Hamilton. Hamilton set a new
track record of 16.50 in qualifying, then dominated the race to
capture the $1,300 winner's purse. Neil Bonnett, driving Bobby
Allison’s Coca-Cola sponsored machine, finished second. Jody
Ridley was third with C.L. Fisher fourth.
Simmons took the lead on lap 71 to win the 1976 edition of the
Rattler 100. Donnie Allison came across the line second. Red
Farmer took third, Jerry Lawley fourth, and C.L. Fisher fifth.
the 1977 Rattler 200, Russell Nelson of Buford, GA led 166 laps to
collect the $1,400 first place money, plus an additional $830 lap
money. Wayne Niedecken, Jr. came from a mid-race spin to capture
second. Larry Weatherford was third, local driver Nix Bruce
fourth, and Kenny Price fifth.
Dave Mader III took the lead on lap 51 when Jody Ridley dropped
out to win the 1978 Rattler 100. Mader had to hold off Red
Farmer at the end to secure the win. Jerry Goodwin drove a
steady race to finish third. Ronnie Sanders finished fourth and
Wayne Niedecken fifth.
McGinnis took advantage of Ronnie Sanders' misfortune to win the
1979 Rattler 100. McGinnis took the early lead, but went to the
rear of the field along with Sanders, after the first caution. The
two charged back to the front with Sanders leading and McGinnis on
his bumper. Five laps from the end, Sanders engine let go, leaving
the win to McGinnis. Wayne Niedecken, Jr. finished second, Jerry
Lawley third and Harry Deaton fourth. Charlie Skipper rounded out
the top 5.
Kasper Miles won the 1980 Rattler 100 over a field that included
David Pearson and Davey Allison. Harry Deaton, a frequent
competitor at the track, passed Mike Alexander halfway through the
race to take second place. Alexander held on to third. Phillip
Grissom, older brother of current Grand National driver Steve
Grissom, ran consistent all day and finished fourth, Jerry Lawley
took fifth. Photos
from left to right: Jerry
Lawley (4), Junior Niedecken(98), and David Pearson dive into turn
during the 1980 Rattler 100. (Tony Martin photo). Dave
Mader III leads David Pearson in the 1980 Rattler 100. (Tony
Martin photo). Kasper Miles takes the checkered flag in the 1980
Rattler 100. (Tony Martin photo). Miles with promoter
Johnny Williams and the Rattlesnake Queen after his 1980 Rattler
100 win. (Yep, that’s a live rattler that Williams is holding!(
(Tony Martin photo).
In the 1981 Rattler 50, Bob Bean took home the winners trophy.
Jackie Young was second, current Craftsman Truck Series driver
Rick Crawford third, Bruce Permenter was fourth and Allen Inco
Short track legend Ronnie Sanders won the 1982 Rattler 100. Mike
Alexander broke an eight-year-old track record with a time of
16.49, and led the first 49 laps before exiting with a
blown head gasket. Sanders, who started 4th, went on to win over
Billy McGinnis and Henry Brook.
The track was closed in 1983, so no Rattler was held. In the l984
Skoal Rattler 100, Mickey Gibbs, fresh off a victory in the
Snowball Derby, continued his winning ways. Donnie Anthony set a
new track record in qualifying with a time of 16.40. Gibbs
stayed in the top 5 all day before pitting just past the halfway
point. He steadily worked his way back to the front, taking the
lead on lap 70. Gibbs then held off Mitch Fowler the rest of the
way for the win. Billy Harvey took third, with Red Farmer fourth
and '77 winner Russell Nelson fifth. 7,500 fans witnessed the
event. Another 1,500 had to be turned away.
The 1985 NASCAR All-American Challenge Series Rattlesnake 100 was
one of the most exciting. Mike Alexander passed Russell Nelson
with two laps to go to take the win. Alexander, who fell a lap
behind on lap 59, made up the lap and moved into second, behind
Nelson, on lap 80. As Nelson moved high to pass lapped cars that
were racing side-by-side, Alexander dove below Nelson and followed
the lapped car that was in the middle. Alexander emerged from turn
two with the lead, and held off Nelson to take a one car length
win. 33 cars started the race witnessed by 7,500 fans that crammed
into the speedway. Dave Mader III took third. Ronnie Sanders and
Stanley Smith finished 4th and 5th. Photos,
from left to right: Stricklin,
‘85 Rattlesnake 125 (Bob Appleget photo). Stanley Smith, ’85
Rattlesnake 125 (Bob Appleget photo). Davey Allison, ’85
Rattlesnake 125 (Bob Appleget photo). 1985 rattlesnake
winner Mike Alexander (Bob Appleget photo).
Daniel Keene nosed out Darrell Brown to win the 1986 NASCAR
All-American Challenge Series Rattlesnake 125. Steve Grissom set a
new track record of 15.96 and appeared to have the car to beat.
However, Grissom was caught up in an accident, allowing Keene and
Brown to duel for the win. The lead changed hands several times
over the last 20 laps with Keene eventually coming out on top.
Stanley Smith was third, Ronnie Sanders fourth, and Marty Ward
fifth. The race was taped by ESPN and shown at a later date.
Rain cancelled the 1987 Rattlesnake 150. The event was to have
served as a shakedown event for All Pro type cars, but due to
scheduling conflicts, the event was not rescheduled. The
track was closed the first part of l988, so there was no Rattler.
In 1989, Bobby Gill won the Rattler 150.
In 1990, veteran Jerry Goodwin won the Rattler 150, taking home
$4,050 for his efforts. Duwayne Middlebrooks was second and Wayne
was scarce from 1991-1994. We apologize, but we tried
several avenues but could not find much on these years. We know
that the Rattler was actually Twin 50's for the local Sportsman
and Super Stock Classes. The 1991 Rattler was cancelled due to
rain and the 1993 Rattler was cancelled due to snow.
Nix Bruce won the
Sportsman portion of the 1994 Rattler.
The 1995 Rattlesnake 125 saw the return of the Late Models,
running under the sanctioning of the Southern All Star
Series. Wayne Niedecken, Jr. pitted late in the race, then stormed
back through the field to take the win. Niedecken led Darrell
Brown to the stripe. Jamie Prell took 3rd, Mike Harmon 4th, and
Mark Knox 5th. Photos
from left to right: Darrell Brown and russell Beardon battle
during the ’95 ratllesnake 125. (Keri Como photo). Eventual
winner Junior Niedecken gets inside of larry Speakman in ’95
Rattlesnake action. (Keri Como photo)
Johnny Brazier held off defending series champion Larry Speakman
to win the 1996 Southern All Stars Rattlesnake 125. Speakman was
on fresher tires than Brazier, a big advantage on the well-worn
asphalt, and steadily closed the gap. However, the laps ran out
before Speakman could run Brazier down. Tim Bryant ran a stong
third. Tim Fryar and Wayne Newton rounded out the top 5.
L to R: Larry
Speakman spins during the middle stages of the ’96 Rattlesnake
`125. Speakman came back to finish second. (Brian McLeod photo).
Keith Thorpe goes around Johnny Brazier during the ’96
Rattlesnake. Brazier came back to win, while Thorpe faded to
sixth. (Brian McLeod photo).
There was no Rattler in 1997. New asphalt greeted the drivers as
they pulled into the pits for the 1998 Rattler 100. The speeds
were fast, with 20 year old Jeremy Pate setting a new track record
of 15.74 in qualifying. However, the new asphalt played a major
role in the race when it became slippery after the sun went down.
Dan Beddingfield stayed out of trouble all day and took the win.
Veteran Stanley Smith took second although missing a front fender.
Jeff Morgan took third, Wayne Newton fourth, and Buddy Welch
the 1999 Rattler 125, Terry Mason Jr. led the first 72 laps before
ignition problems sidelined him for the night. Ronnie Sanders then
took control and went on to become the first repeat winner of the
event. Jeff Morgan finished a strong second. Chris Davidson was
third, Tracy Goodson fourth, and Dale Little fifth.
In the 2000 Rattler 125, Donald Long took the win, one week after
flipping six times at Birmingham. DuWayne Middlebrooks set fast
time in qualifying and set a fast early pace. Middlebrooks
appeared headed to a flag to flag victory, but his Monte Carlo
slowed on lap 114 with engine problems. John Wilkerson III took
the lead with Long hot on his bumper. Long made two attempts to
the inside before making an outside move on lap 118 to take the
win. Wilkerson held onto second. Richie Beasley was third, with
Bubba Naumann fourth, and Ronnie Sanders fifth. Photos,
Brown and Gary Helton
2000 Rattler (Mark Chisum photo). Donald Long (yellow and
blue car) dodged this early spin by Tim Baker and went on to win
the 2000 Rattler. ( Mark Chisum photo).
In the Silver Anniversary edition of the Rattler, Ronnie
an overheating engine late in the 150-lap race to take home his
Rattler trophy. Dan Beddingfield set fast time in qualifying, but
Middlebrooks was on the pole due to inversion. Before the green
however, Middlebrooks pulled into the pits with ignition problems.
Wilkinson III took the lead on lap 9 and looked set to dominate
before getting caught up in an accident on lap 45. Wayne Willard
lead and led until pitting on lap 81, handing the lead to
had his early problems fixed and had charged through the field.
a seemingly comfortable lead but as the laps ran down, a stream of
was spewing from Sanders overflow vent. As Sanders slowed his
picked his up and closed to Sanders' bumper. But Sanders used
to hold off Willard for the win. Middlebrooks was third, folllowed
Ken McFarland and William Wambles.
Bradberry made his first start in the early season event in the 26th
edition of the race, and made the most of the opportunity, taking
home the winners’ trophy. Dale Little led the first 39 laps
before J.R. Norris took the point. Bradberry almost lost a lap in
the pits around the mid-point of the race, but a timely caution
not only saved his lap, but also put him back in second as most of
the leaders pitted for fresh tires. Norris continued to lead until
his engine let go on lap 98, giving the lead to Bradberry. The
race almost slipped away from Bradberry as his Monte Carlo slipped
up the track with five laps to go, allowing both Duwayne
Middlebrooks and Regan Baker to slide by. However, three laps
later, Middlebrooks and Baker got together and spun, giving
Bradberry new life. Bradberry then held off a hard charging
Middlebrooks for the win.
Rattler 150 featured one of the strongest fields in recent
history with drivers such as David Hole (0), Jason Hogan(92),
Wayne Willard, (01), and
The 27th Annual Rattler featured one
of the strongest fields in recent years and produced one of
the most exciting and interesting finishes in the history of
the race. Wayne Willard set fast time in qualifying but Regan
Baker grabbed the lead for the first ten laps. Willard charged
into the lead before David Hole ttok over during the middle
portions of the race. Hole was ale to put several good cars
down a lap, including Wayne Anderson, William Wambles, and
Dale Little. Jason Hogan took a turn out front until Willard
regained the point on lap 109. A lap 134 caution period
brought all of the leaders in for fresh tires with the
exception of defending race champion Charlie Bradberry.
Bradberry led Willard, Hogan, and David Hole to the checkered
flag for an apparent victory. However, as his crew gathered
around his car in Victory Lane to celebrate, Bradberry was
seen handing an object from inside his car to his crew chief.
When his crew chief refused to produce the item, Bradberry was
disqualified and Willard named the winner.
Willard was awarded the win in Victory Lane in a bizarre twist
conclusion of the 27th Annual
Willard dominated the 28th running of the Rattler
150, successfully defending his 2003 win. Willard led
the way in qualifying and led the field of 26 Late Models to
the green flag. Willard took the lead at the start and never
looked back. The best racing was behind Willard with Jason
Hogan and Charlie Bradberry, David Hole, and J.R. Norris
fighting for the runner-up spot. After a competition yellow
on lap 90, Willard again pulled away for a comfortable lead.
Bradberry and Hogan had a good battle for second with Hogan
finally taking the spot after several side by side duels.
Hogan didn’t have anything for Willard, though, and finished
second for the second straight year.
finishing second the past two years, Jason Hogan finally
captured a trophy he really wanted, The Rattler 200. The
annual event moved into a new era with the winner’s purse
increased from $5000 to $10,000. The increase brought one of
the strongest fields ever for the long running event. Scot
Smith surprised just about everybody by turning the fastest
lap in qualifying. Smith then jumped out to a big lead over
the stellar field. Smith led the first 131 laps of the race
before spinning after contact with a lapped car. His upset
bid ended against the back stretch wall. Keith Cahela stayed
out when most of the leaders pitted for fresh tires to take
the lead. With fresh tires, Eddie Mercer quickly moved past
Cahela. Shortly, after taking the lead, Mercer and Charlie
Bradberry got together while battling for the lead, spinning
both. Hogan took over the lead but had to hold off a hard
charging Donald Long before securing the win.
Phil Wendt, Dennie Rewis (Twin 50’s)
Dave Mader III
Wayne Neidecken Jr.
2002 Charlie Bradberry