A relatively dry rodeo arena made for fast driving at Saturday’s demolition derby, but a good dousing by an Iron Tri angle water truck at halftime didn’t slow down the action.
A large crowd turned out for the Whiskey Gulch Gang’s annual derby at the Grant County Fairgrounds. Ten cars entered the two heats, but only eight made it to the main event.
Steve Patterson of Prairie City took first place in the main event and a $2,000 prize. Chad Law of Mt. Vernon took second and $1,000. Patterson’s son Mike of Pendleton took third place and $500.
Law also was named Most Aggressive Driver and took home a Craftsman air compressor donated by Nydam’s Ace Hardware.
Joey Reyes of Idaho, who took second in the first heat but was unable to get his car ready for the main event, was the Hard Luck winner, with a trophy and free entry to next year’s derby.
Wayne Saul of Mt. Vernon was last year’s winner, but he entered a different car this year that won the Beauty Contest. He made it to the main event but was knocked out of the running. Keith Dougharity of Mt. Vernon drove Saul’s car from last year.
By 7 p.m. the night before the derby, organizers had no entries for pickups in the halftime barrel race. Grant County’s active social networking went to work, and by Saturday night more than a dozen side-by-sides and other vehicles had entered the event.
Luke Claughton Jr. of Canyon City won the barrel race on his dirt bike, performing a wheelie right out the exit gate. His father drove a golf cart equipped with a 400cc Polaris engine.
Steve Patterson won the first heat, in a wild smashing start to the derby. A radiator geyser didn’t stop his car from taking first. Last year, Mike Patterson took first at the demolition derby in Baker City, leaving his father in second place.
Chase Jeys and his father, Mark, both from Prineville, took first and second place in the second heat. Law roared around the arena at high speed in the heat, but his targets often managed to avoid a hit. Chase Jeys’ engine died at the end of the heat, but his car coasted into his father’s car for a gentle final tap.
Crews repaired the driveshaft of a blue Ford Edsel in time for the main event, but Law knocked it up on top of a 3-foot diameter log. When the smoke cleared and the mud settled, Steve Patterson’s black car was the only one rolling, and he roared out of the arena a winner.
The organizers thanked U.S. Bank for a $500 donation, John Day True Value for $250 in door prizes for drivers, the Grant Union High School wrestling team for its concession stand and Gardner Enterprises and Heidi Law for assistance and help.