"There was some good competition this year," said Rusty. "There were a lot more compacts this year than there have been in the past. There were also several in the stock class. I built a brand new car for the stock class this year."
Although Rusty only secured fourth place in the compact class, which attracted over a half a dozen competitors, he took home first place in the stock class and combined heat event.
Rusty also secured the top prize in the modified class for the second consecutive year. This year's showing earned him a $1,300 cash prize.
The silver #4 demolition derby car that Rusty used to conquer his competition was sponsored by: Freedom Bank; Benny's Automotive Repair, of Washburn; State Line Auto Salvage, of Seligman; Newman's Small Engine; Cornell's Small Welding; Gautney's Garage; and Ozark Healthy Herb Shop.
"This is the fifth year that I have used the same modified car in the demolition derby," said Rusty. "I have used the same motor and transmission every year. I always have to put the front bumper back on though."
Rusty prepares for the demolition derby throughout the year with the assistance of his brother, Ryan, who also competes in the local competition.
"We work year round," said Rusty. "We are always going to salvage yards and looking for cars and parts. We scavenge for tires, wheels, engines and transmissions. We are constantly collecting parts. We go through three to five radiators each year."
In the months leading up to the demolition derby, the Newman brothers use every night and weekend to prepare their vehicles for the upcoming event. This year, the brothers entered five cars in the local contest.
"We had around a third of the cars this year," said Rusty. "I think there were around 17 or 18 cars in the derby."
In addition to preparing their vehicles for the demolition derby, Rusty and Ryan spend a large amount of time developing their driving techniques.
"We go watch a lot of derbies," said Rusty. "Each derby that we go to we videotape, and we take it home and watch it again and again.
"We study how they drive," said Rusty. "It is just as much about driving technique as it is the car. If you don't protect your own vehicle, you will get knocked out early."
Rusty was not the only Newman who took prize money home from the local demolition derby this year. Ryan earned third place in the stock class and came in right behind his brother in the combined heat.
"We got first and second in the combined heat," said Rusty. "This was the first time it has ever come down to just me and him. We have always said that if it comes down to the two of us we are not friends anymore."
Rusty entered his top prize-winning modified station wagon in the combined heat, and Ryan drove Rusty's stock car.
"It was strange busting up my own car," said Rusty. "It was fun though."
In addition to driving Rusty's stock car in the combined heat, Ryan entered a mini van in the stock class and a 1949 Chevrolet in the modified class.
"Unfortunately, Ryan broke a drive line early in the modified competition," said Rusty. "He built that car brand new for this year's derby. People should count on seeing it again next year."
The Cassville Rotary Club awarded around $3,500 in cash prizes to the top competitors in each demolition derby class this year. All of the winners are listed below.
Compact: Bobby Arms, first place; Ken Leverleh, second place; Denzil Arms, third place; and Rusty Newman, fourth place.
Stock: Rusty Newman, first place; Sam Blackerby, second place; Ryan Newman, third place; and Justin Dipley, fourth place.
Modified: Rusty Newman, first place; Bryan Ray, second place; Harold "Red" Blair, third place; and Mike Craft, fourth place.
Combined heat: Rusty Newman, first place; and Ryan Newman, second place.
Around 1,500 community members attended the demolition derby on Saturday. The Cassville Rotary Club plans to host its eighth annual derby next summer.
Other photos of the 2009 Cassville Rotary Club Demolition Derby are available in our Sept. 2 print edition.