RATTLIN’ THROUGH THE YEARS
The history of the speedway's most famed event

When 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 “Rattler”!

1974 Rattler
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.


1975 Rattler
 

Pete Hamilton accepts the winner's trophy after the 1975 Rattler 100.

     In 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.

 

 

 

1976 Rattler
Buck 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.

 

 

 

1977 Rattler
In 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.

 

1978 Rattler
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.

1979 Rattler
Billy 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.

 

 

1980 Rattler

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 three 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).

1981 Rattler
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 fifth.

1982 Rattler
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.

 

 

 

 

1984 Rattler
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.


1985 Rattler

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).


1986 Rattler
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.


1989 Rattler
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.


1990 Rattler
In 1990, veteran Jerry Goodwin won the Rattler 150, taking home $4,050 for his efforts. Duwayne Middlebrooks was second and Wayne Hoodless third.


Information 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.

1994 Rattler

Nix Bruce won the Sportsman portion of the 1994 Rattler.

 

1995 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)


1996 Rattler

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.
Photos, 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).


1998 Rattler
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 fifth.

1999 Rattler
In 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.


2000 Rattler

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, L-R: Darrell 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).

2001 Rattler
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In the Silver Anniversary edition of the Rattler, Ronnie Sanders
survived an overheating engine late in the 150-lap race to take home his third Rattler trophy. Dan Beddingfield set fast time in qualifying, but DuWayne Middlebrooks was on the pole due to inversion. Before the green flag dropped, however, Middlebrooks pulled into the pits with ignition problems. John Wilkinson III took the lead on lap 9 and looked set to dominate the event before getting caught up in an accident on lap 45. Wayne Willard took the lead and led until pitting on lap 81, handing the lead to Middlebrooks, who had his early problems fixed and had charged through the field. Sanders built a seemingly comfortable lead but as the laps ran down, a stream of steam was spewing from Sanders overflow vent. As Sanders slowed his pace, Willard picked his up and closed to Sanders' bumper. But Sanders used slower traffic to hold off Willard for the win. Middlebrooks was third, folllowed by Ken McFarland and William Wambles.

2002 Rattler
CharlieBradberry.jpg (21243 bytes)Regan.jpg (16740 bytes)Charlie 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.

2003 Rattler
                                                                   

david.jpg (135015 bytes)

The 2003 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 Wayne Anderson (outside)

 

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. wayne.jpg (209251 bytes)

Wayne Willard was awarded the win in Victory Lane in a bizarre twist after the conclusion of the 27th Annual Rattler 150

 

2004 Rattler

 

 

      Wayne 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.

 

 

2005 Rattler

 

 

 

     After 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.

 

 

 

Rattler Winners

1974    Phil Wendt, Dennie Rewis (Twin 50’s)
1975    Pete Hamilton
1976    Buck Simmons
1977    Russell Nelson
1978    Dave Mader III

1979    Billy McGinnis
1980    Kasper Miles
1981    Bob Bean
1982    Ronnie Sanders
1983    No Race
1984    Mickey Gibbs
1985    Mike Alexander
1986    Daniel Keene
1987    Rained Out
1988    No Race
1989    Bobby Gill
1990    Jerry Goodwin
1991    Rained Out
1992    No Info
1993    Snowed Out
1994    Nix Bruce
1995    Wayne Neidecken Jr.
1996    Johnny Brazier
1997    No Race
1998    Dan Beddingfield
1999    Ronnie Sanders
2000    Donald Long
2001    Ronnie Sanders
2002    Charlie Bradberry
2003    Wayne Willard
 

2004    Wayne Willard

2005    Jason Hogan

2006    Ryan Cane

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