Rattler 250 this weekend at South Alabama Speedway

Published 9:35 pm Friday, March 14, 2014

Photo/speed51.com Chad Finley (42) leads Kyle Benjamin (71), Chris Wimmer (52), Anderson Bowen (29) and Hunter Robbins (18) off turn four early in the 2013 edition of The Rattler. (Photo/Tonya Kronk, Speed51.com)

Chad Finley (42) leads Kyle Benjamin (71), Chris Wimmer (52), Anderson Bowen (29) and Hunter Robbins (18) off turn four early in the 2013 edition of The Rattler. (Photo/Tonya Kronk, Speed51.com)

South Alabama Speedway Operations Manager MaLeah Hill hasn’t had a chance to relax in over a week.

But she will “take it with a smile” and keep going, because over 60 over the top Super and Pro Late Model drivers in the world will converge on South Alabama Speedway this weekend for the 38th Rattler 250.

The cars and stars of the Southern Super Series, such as defending series champion Daniel Hemric, former Rattler winners Bubba Pollard, Kyle Benjamin and Augie Grill and some of racing’s brightest young stars, will headline the weekend with a 250-lap race on Sunday afternoon.

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“I think the cars and drivers that are here this weekend will make for one of the best races this season,” said Hill. “It is wonderful to see the pit area full of haulers and cars, because that means short track racing is alive and well.”

But the race planning hasn’t been silky smooth.

Early in the morning of March 6, a fire destroyed the scoring tower and press box at the track, forcing the family-owned facility to completely rebuild in less than a week.

“It was never a thought in our mind to cancel this event,” said Hill. “We are thankful it was just the tower and not the concession stand or grandstands. Before the fire was completely out, my dad (John Dykes, track owner) and Kevin (Chance, race director) were looking up and counting the number of beams that had to be replaced.”

In less than a week the track staff, along with a group of volunteers, rebuilt the tower.

Hill said the fire has brought the entire “racing community” closer together.

“We have had some many people come by and lend a hand,” said Hill. “We had a couple come spend their anniversary day helping us cleanup and Ronnie Sanders (a race car owner) drove all the down form Georgia to help us install a sink in the concession stand. It’s things like that that makes this sport so special.”

The Rattler will kick off the 2014 Southern Super Series schedule. The Super Late Model tour has stops at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Mobile International Speedway, Montgomery Motor Speedway, Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville and Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga.

Hill said the idea of bringing the Rattler to the series was brought about at Christmas dinner.

“We had just come back from the Snowball Derby, and were sitting around and talking about if this was something we wanted to do,” said Hill. “We all agreed that we did, and immediately put the plans in motion with the series. It all started at the dinner table.”

The Pro Late Model “Baby Rattler” 125 will be held Saturday night, along with modified and street stock racing and time trials for Sunday’s Rattler 250.

Sunday’s race is scheduled for a 2 P.m. green flag. Tickets can be purchased at the gate for both events.