MT. VERNON – Wayne Saul of Mt. Vernon has a good handle on a wild ride.

He and several other drivers are getting their mean machines in top-notch condition for Saturday’s 26th Annual Whiskey Gulch Gang Demolition Derby.

The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Grant County Fairgrounds in John Day.

Presale admission is $10 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under – at-the-gate prices are $2 more.

Saul has been preparing for the event for two months, working on a ’69 Buick Wildcat with a 430 V8, which his uncle George Hamsher acquired for him.

Older cars like this one are hard to find because they’re so often sold for the metal, Saul said.

He’s worked, welding and chaining parts of the Wildcat, at his uncle’s T&H Automotive shop, and recently painted it at Clark’s Disposal with help from friends and co-workers.

His wife Jessie and their two children, Mayley, age 6, and Emmie, 4, also lend a hand in the shop at times.

Saul started derby contests 12 years ago.

“I watched Hal Gilliam and Walt Osborne when I was little,” and later decided to give it a try, he said.

He’s won a few main events in John Day and Baker City.

What’s to love about it?

“The rush of it – the excitement,” he said. “You get sore – I rolled one time, but was never injured.”

For more information about the John Day derby, call organizer Hugh Farrell at 541-575-0329 or email

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