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Charlie Overfelt video.

At the age of eight Charlie Overfelt saw a flame-painted Model A roadster with a flathead engine “smoke the tires,” and he remembers his mother saying, “Look at that idiot in the hot rod.” Mrs. Overfelt probably never imagined that her son would become a nationally known drag car builder and racer or that he would be paid to teach a host of young men how to create such cars for themselves.

Born in 1945 in Roanoke, Charlie Overfelt began seriously learning about car building in a welding class at Jefferson High School. By the age of 17 he had a race-winning dragster. Following a tour in the military, Overfelt worked as a machinist for several years before becoming a welding teacher at his old high school in 1977. Today he continues to teach for the Roanoke City Schools, and car-building projects are part of the instruction. Over the years, Overfelt’s students have built a variety of automobiles in the classroom including a 1967 Camino chopped-top drag racer, a 1927 Ford roadster hot rod, a 1932 Ford electric-powered car, and a 1948 Austin dragster.

Charlie Overfelt has not built light weight street cars for many years, and his dragsters are designed specifically for the track. Light weight and low to the ground, they combine high horsepower with low-ratio gearing for powerful acceleration. The building process is just one of Overfelt’s joys; he races at Southwest Virginia tracks, and in the summers he competes at drag strips across the nation. In 1990 he took time off from teaching to race for one of the top California-based dragster teams.

Chapter 6 »
Body and Paint Work

Acknowledgements | Ferrum College and the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum | Contact