Fatman Fabrications, one of the country’s largest manufacturers of hot rod performance parts, has seen its business increase substantially during the third quarter of this year. The Charlotte-based company, which employs more than 40 people, will display its products at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Oct. 28-30 Goodguys Southeastern Nationals.

Brent VanDervort, who founded Fatman Fabrications in 1985 to create chassis parts for the growing street rod hobby, says his customers are starting to spend money on their toys again after a two-year dry spell.

“We are part of the ‘disposable income’ industry,” VanDervort said. “When the economy is slow, like it has been since 2009, people save their money for necessities. When people feel more secure about their income, they want to play with their cars or boats or whatever.”

Fatman does not build custom cars, but instead focuses on developing suspension, brake, steering, frame, and other chassis parts for enthusiasts all over the world. Fatman’s six-acre plot on Fairview Road contains four buildings – 22,000 square feet of capacity – devoted to sales, warehousing, shipping, prototype development and parts installation. Fatman leaves the engine, paint, body and interior fabrication to other specialists. In a good year, the parts department sells 4,500 front end kits; the installation shop upgrades and improves 100 to 120 cars. If the last three months are any indication, sales are returning to pre-2009 levels.

“We were affected by the recession like everybody else,” he said, “but we just hired two new manufacturing employees to handle the increase in demand. Our research staff has been putting a lot of effort into 1950s-era cars because that seems to be the area of strongest growth right now.”

Of the dozen street rod shows Fatman attends as a vendor nationwide each year, VanDervort admits the Goodguys event at Charlotte Motor Speedway is his favorite.

“One of the biggest attractions for people to this show is the Saturday night cruise under the lights. I know guys who have come from Colorado just to say they have driven their custom cars on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s track.”

Goodguys Southeastern Nationals
The 18th annual Goodguys Southeastern Nationals runs 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased online at www.good-guys.com or at the gate on event days. Adult tickets are $18 per day. Tickets for children ages 7 to 12 are only $6 while children 6 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking is $5.

Information about the Goodguys Southeastern Nationals may be obtained by calling Goodguys at (925) 838-9876 or the Charlotte Motor Speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or online at www.southeasternnats.com or www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.