Rattler 250 Preview: Big Stories and Big Money
Super and Pro Late Models Flock to South Alabama Speedway
By Elgin Traylor
“The Big Three” Ready for the 34th Annual Rattler 250

The premier Super Late Model springtime classic takes place on the first weekend of March each year at the South Alabama Speedway.  The event, known proudly as The Rattler, has been a staple of short track racing for over 30 years and it continues to grow every single season.  What once was just a 100-lap sprint event has turned into a 250 race of endurance and strategy.

The 34th Annual race already has several key stories shaping up mostly around the big three.  We call them the big three because these three competitors have combined for 24 wins in the Deep South just a year ago.  Augie Grill, Bubba Pollard and Johanna Long have to be on the mind of all the drivers entered in the Rattler 250.  

Grill is looking to become only the second driver to win the Rattler for a third time.  His success at South Alabama Speedway over the past two seasons has been nothing short of amazing.  Grill has won the Rattler in 2007 and 2009.  He won the Alabama 200 in 2008 and also took the checkered flag in the Pro Rattler 125 last March before a tech infraction striped him of his title.

“Everything’s pretty much the same as usual for us this year,” said Grill.  “We’re just sticking to our guns and going with what we know and trying to improve on that.  It’s been a recipe for success the past few years down there, so maybe it’ll work again this year.”

Bubba Pollard won everything at South Alabama Speedway a year ago except the two biggest shows, the Rattler and the Alabama 200.  This year, he hopes to take those crowns back to Senoia, Georgia, as he will be driving for three-time Rattler winner Ronnie Sanders.

“It felt good to win the “Baby Rattler” last year and that just kick-started our season,” said Pollard. “Hopefully we can get on the track this year and start things off right by winning both races.”

Another favorite for the up coming race is Johanna Long.  The 2009 Blizzard Series Champion and Gulf Coast Series champion will return to South Alabama Speedway, the site of her first Late Model win back in 2008.

“I’m really excited about the Rattler,” said Long. “It’s a big race and hopefully we’ll run good and grab a top five, top 10, maybe a win.  We are planning on running both races so it will be busy weekend for us.”

There will be a talented crop of drivers looking to dethrone the big three in the deep south and put there name on the Rattler 250 trophy.  Guys like Casey Smith, Jeff Fultz, Gary St. Amant, Grant Enfinger, Eddie Mercer, Chase Elliott, Jeff Choquette and Kyle Busch Motorsports entrant Brian Ickler are looking to play spoiler in the south.

Don’t forget to log on to Speed51.com for Trackside Now coverage and be sure to listen to RaceTalkRadio.com as Speed 51 Radio will bring you live Flag-to-Flag coverage of both the Pro Rattler 125 on Saturday, March 6th and the Rattler 250 on Sunday, March 7th.

Historic Finishes Quickly Becoming the Norm at South Alabama Speedway

There is just something special about the white flag coming out at South Alabama Speedway.  Maybe it’s just the thrill of the last lap, maybe it’s the fact that something always seems to happen at the 3/8th mile track. 

The 2007 Rattler 250 had Hunter Robbins and Augie Grill coming across the line sideways and wrecking for the victory with Grill taking the top spot. It was almost the same story in 2009 when Ryan Lawler came across the line spinning for a top five spot.

“I honestly don’t know what makes it happen that way,” said two-time Rattler winner Grill.  “It just seems to work out where somebody at the end of the race is making an exciting finish and I hate that I’ve been part of it once or twice but that’s just the way it seems to work out.”

Johanna Long can even attest to the crazy finishes as few people actually recall that she won her first race at South Alabama Speedway after a last lap tangle with Sam “Shanky” Smith a few years back. 

Don’t forget about the finish to last year’s Alabama 200.  The top three cars all pilled up in the first turn on the final lap paving the way for Chris Davidson to victory lane.

Can it happen again?  We’ll find out on March 7th.  

Rattler Offers a Historic Win List

When you look down the list of previous winners at The Rattler, it’s a who’s who of short track legends.  Pete Hamilton, Dave Mader III, Micky Gibbs, Bobby Gill, Ronnie Sanders, Charlie Bradberry and so many more have gone to victory lane.  However, each of the aforementioned drivers has also won the Snowball Derby.  

Big Payday Could Await Rattler 250 Winner at South Alabama Speedway

If you want to see a big money race then tell your favorite Super Late Model driver to head to the South Alabama for the Rattler 250.  Track owner John Dykes has once again dreamed up a play to be the highest paying short track asphalt race in the county if 50 Super Late Models head to Opp, AL.  An entry list of at least 50 cars, along with bonuses, could make the 34th annual Rattler 250 the most profitable event in the county.       

If the car count is under 50 cars, then the winner’s take will be $10,000 with an extra $2,500 bonus to the winner for a driver who ran the Rattler in 2009.  The purse for the winner will double if 50 cars answer the call to $20,000 and a $5,000 bonus will go to a 2009 competitor who could score the win.

Other bonuses include $2,500 in lap money (10 a lap), $1,000 to win pole and the race, $1,500 to start on the tail and win, $250 to win the pole, $250 halfway to lead halfway.  Whoever pulls into victory lane is going to have a big check waiting for them.

Augie Grill (top) Johanna Long (middle) and Bubba Pollard will all be among the favoroites at the Rattler.  The three won 24 races a year ago and all but at South Alabama Speedway.  (51 Sports Photos)
The 2007 Rattler finish saw Augie Grill #112 and Hunter Robbins wrecking across the line. (Mark Chisum Photo)
Ronnie Sanders has won the Rattler three times.  He will be looking for a fourth win as a car owner to Bubba Pollard this coming weekend. (51 Sports Photo)