It's been a long time coming, but at long last LS motors are finally getting their due thanks to GM Performance Parts and the National Muscle Car Association (NMCA). The First Annual LSX Shootout presented by GM High-Tech Performance marks the first and only national gathering of its kind for Gen III/IV enthusiasts, which has proven to be the hottest and fastest growing market in the industry. GMPP was all too willing to shell out big cash and prizes to make sure this event would succeed, and the NMCA allowed the LSX Shootout to take place alongside its World Finals at Memphis from October 11 to 14, and kicked in some great prizes as well. Thousands of dollars of cash were up for grabs in the True Street, Drag Radial, All Motor, and Showdown (index) racing classes, as well as plaques, jackets, and even two LS7 crate engines and two LSX Bow Tie blocks. The Dyno Challenge was yet another way to make a quick grand by simply strapping your LS-powered machine to the onsite chassis dyno.
But the LSX Shootout extended beyond Memphis' city limits: the event kicked off in the wee hours of Thursday morning, October 11, with two road tours simultaneously departing from Joliet, Illinois, and Dallas, Texas, leading to the Plantation Oaks (host) hotel in Memphis. The two caravans of LSXers were treated to coffee, donuts, and a scenic drive through the South and Midwest before meeting up for dinner. Even a rogue, informal Eastern tour met up with the group at the Plantation Oaks as beer, BBQ, and good times were had by all.
Meanwhile the early birds who had already set up shop at Memphis Motorsports Park spent 6 to 9 p.m. testing and tuning their combos in preparation for the first round of qualifying on Friday at 3 p.m. Participants also had the ability to test and tune their hot rod on Friday, when the temp was at 80. Those who couldn't get out of work any sooner, still had all of Saturday for qualifying rounds before beginning eliminations. In the mean time, the car show had begun heating up and the manufacturers midway was jam-packed with new products and friendly staff with answers to LS questions. Comp Cams made the short trip across town to show off its products and even hosted an SBC engine building competition open to anyone with enough guts. Word is a few dark horses surprised the confident and capable School of Automotive Machinists students, but we won't hold that against them.
On Saturday the crowd grew monumentally by the evening's final qualifying round for all the LSX racing classes, including the top dog Drag Radial class. Many were anxious to see if the Ohio Boys' and Paul Major's turbo cars were going to bring the pain, and were scoping out Cal Hartline's first few shakedown passes in his newly LS1-powered GN. And would Tom Kempf rebound from the vicious crash he suffered the week of the event? The crest of Saturday evening carried the excitement over to Sunday during eliminations-and to the final rounds taking place late Sunday night with a storybook finish. When all was said and done, thousands gathered throughout the weekend to easily make it the most highly attended NMCA event in years and the biggest LSX event to date, with 130 racers and another 20-plus in the car show. The LSX Shootout was a rousing success, and we look forward to having an even bigger turnout next year.
GM Performance Parts LSX Showdown
The Showdown was an index-style race designed for any year of Gmbodied car or truck using an LS-style powerplant not fitting the All Motor or Drag Radial class rules. A .500 Pro Tree was used, and the racers chose a class based on e.t.-from AAA/LSX at 9.0, to I/LSX at 14.0. This ensured an exciting mix of classes in every race, and a 9-second vehicle could (and did) line up with a 13-second vehicle! There were some serious goodies up for grabs: $1,000 and an LSX block to the winner, $500 to the runner-up for starters! With 64 entrants there was a ton of great racing between those classes, culminating in an awesome final between D/LSX and H/LSX. // rick jensen
GM Performance Parts LSX True Street Challenge
One of the most exciting events held at the LSX Shootout was the GM Performance Parts LSX True Street Challenge, open to all GM vehicles powered by a Gen III or IV LS engine-whether factory installed or not. Designed for high-performance street-going vehicles, True Street's rule set is aimed at ensuring that competitors' cars are reasonably and reliably roadworthy. Now, don't think that this means these cars aren't seriously fast-after all, wheelie bars are permitted! The rules do forbid the use of race-only mods like Lexan windows and a full tube chassis (though "back-halved" vehicles are allowed), and all cars must retain a stock-type front suspension. Though any size engine and power adder combination is permitted, an exhaust system with mufflers is required. Perhaps most significantly, a valid vehicle registration, license plates, insurance ID card, and (if applicable) state inspection sticker must be presented during tech-in. At this time, vehicles are checked for working headlights, turn signals, brake lights, and horn. Tires are also inspected and must be DOT approved, with a maximum 10.6-inch measured tread width for bias-ply tires (325mm for radials; height for either type is unrestricted).
Aside from regulations ensuring streetability, True Street was unique in several other ways. First of all, there was no qualifying involved (though entrants were welcome to take time shots on Thursday and Friday). The event itself was held entirely on Saturday, and was run simultaneously with the NMCA True Street event, which was open to all cars regardless of make or engine. Participation was excellent, as a total of 59 LS-powered rides entered the event (not including a handful that, for whatever reason, registered themselves into the NMCA portion)-double that of the NMCA cars! As a bonus, entrants could compete no-charge in the LSX Showdown index class on Sunday, so surely this helped attract the healthysized crowd.
The activities kicked off late Saturday morning with a driver's meeting to get all competitors on the same page. After this, a mandatory, policeescorted cruise through Memphisarea highways and side streets commenced. The mapped course was a 30-mile grand tour of several semi-populous areas as well as a few more rural roadways. The variety of driving conditions increased the odds that typical race-car weaknesses like inadequate cooling systems and a poor part-throttle tune would rear their ugly heads, although no actual stop-and-go traffic was experienced. Vehicles that were unable to complete the tour were disqualified. Although an unfortunate few fell by the wayside, the vast majority of cars were able to make the trek without trouble. And, thankfully, the cruise was without vehicular incident, save for one of the police escorts being hit by a non-competing vehicle just outside the track entrance!
Once the cars returned to Memphis Motorsports Park, they immediately were taken to the staging lanes and allowed a 45-minute cool-down period. During this time, a strict hoodclosed policy was in effect for the remainder of the event. Additional regulations were that each car had to start its engine under its own power, and the only change allowed to the cars was lowering (not raising!) of tire pressure and repacking of the parachute as necessary. It was during this cool-down phase that the GMHTP crew had the chance to walk around and talk with some of the folks who looked like they'd be vying for the top spots in the event, and though our inability to peek under the cars' hoods limited our ability to draw a clear picture of who might be crowned the fastest, we came across some very serious-looking vehicles nonetheless.
When the time came to hit the strip, the procedure was well known to all: every car would have to make three back-to-back passes with limited cool-down time provided in-between, and again with no hood opening allowed. Each competitor would have to make all three passes, and every one of them would count-even in the event of mechanical failure or an aborted pass. The e.t.s of the three passes were then averaged, and this final number was compared to that of all other competitors. Up for grabs was $500 to the winner plus a 6-foot trophy, and $200 and a plaque to the runner-up. Just to make sure that as many folks as possible got a share of the bounty, $200 and a plaque were also handed out to competitors whose average e.t. came closest to 10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 13.00, 14.00, and 15.00 seconds. Did we mention that all winners were also to receive a special LSX jacket? The final piece of the puzzle was easily the most exciting: if the car with the quickest average e.t. of all (NMCA class cars included) was an LS-powered vehicle, GMPP would hand out an LSX Bow Tie block to the lucky winner!
Happily, that's exactly what ended up happening: some seriously fast cars vied for the top spots, but when it was all said and done, Mike Brown's 8-second turbocharged 1999 Trans Am edged out the nearest NMCA competitor by just over 2 tenths, bringing the distinction of overall fastest True Street car to the LS camp! This made Brown technically the NMCA King, but LSX King honors still had to be handed out, and they went to David Childress and his 9-second 1998 T/A. Mike Mester went quick enough to earn the runner-up spot piloting his 2000 Trans Am, missing out on the LSX King spot by under a tenth of a second. The 10-second trophy went to Mike Meeks of Santa Rosa, Florida, who averaged 10.32 seconds (technically closest to 10.00 thanks to trophies already having been handed to Childress and Mester). Elevensecond honors went to the 1998 Trans Am of Paul Falcon, who followed I-40 all the way west from Durham, North Carolina. Tennessee native Nathan Richardson grabbed the 12-second spot in his 2001 Camaro, while Guerrero Alfredo's '00 Camaro went home to Fort Worth, Texas, with the 13-second prize. Zac Ravencraft was super-consistent in his 2006 Trailblazer SS, with all three runs being 14.0s and spanning just over 6-hundredths of a second, giving him 14-second honors. Finally, Michael Laden clearly didn't intend to go home with 15-second honors, as his first pass was an 11.0-but a so-so second pass and 23-second final pass gave him the closest average to 15 seconds, so we doubt he minded the cash and plaque!
Just a glance at the e.t. rundown of all cars makes it clear that several competitors found the track to be somewhat inconsistent on Saturday, so we applaud their efforts and thank everyone who showed up to share in the action. Check out the photo captions for info on some of the highlights and more about the cars that competed-they'll make you wish you'd been there! // chris Werner GM
GH Performance Parts LSX All Motor
The All Motor rules are perhaps the most straightforward of all the heads-up classes. Only GM vehicles with a GM-manufactured LS-based block would be allowed to go head to head on a .400 Pro Tree. Any OEM or OEM "style" head is permitted, however canted valve heads are also allowed with a 50-pound weight penalty. Dry sump oiling, aftermarket EFI, and any single 4-barrel carb along with any intake manifold could be run; though production OEM manifolds carry a 50-pound weight break. The rules were perhaps the most liberal in terms of transmissions, except to say that any OEMstyle automatic or manual would do. Clutch-activated autos (such as a Clutch-flite) were a no-no, but transbrakes, line locks, and two-step rev limiters were all in. Only stockstyle suspensions with exception to tubular K-members, coilovers, and wheelie bars, make the cut. Ladder bars, though unlikely on any F-body or C5, carried a 50-pound penalty. Mini-tubs and notched framerails were also OK, though with a maximum tire size of 28.6x10.6-inches, it would most likely be unnecessary. Skinnies no smaller than 4.5-inches in width could be used, and electronic driving aids, throttle stops, or delays couldn't be.
In short, it's all about the driver. Without being able to crank up the boost or hit another stage of nitrous, there is little hope of running down your opponent at half-track if you fall asleep at the tree. At the LSX Shootout, even a big-cube LSX or C5R block wouldn't net too large an advantage, as the rules stipulate an allotted minimum weight based on displacement. Most of the heavy hitters, including the School of Automotive Machinists' and Six Speeds Inc.'s Camaros, would be carrying between 3,300 and 3,400 pounds with driver. Properly secured ballast along with the required carpet, headliner, passenger seat, and OEM appearing dash, as well as the NHRA-spec cage, easily make up that hefty weight. In addition, only the hood, bumpers, and rear hatch could be changed from factory. Even still, most competitors opted for larger cubes rather than lighter weight. And with two grand and an LS7 crate engine for the winner, and a grand for second place up for grabs, can you blame em? Out of the six competitors this year, Steve Hopkins was the only one sporting less than 427 cubes. His iron-block 402 was originally built as a nitrous car, but he thought he'd be more competitive in All Motor with a best of 9.80 at 140 mph rather than 8.90s on spray. The Bartlett, Tennessee native's '98 Z28 runs ported LQ9 heads, a Powerglide, carbon-fiber driveshaft, and 9-inch rear with a 4.86 gear. While still working out the bugs, Hopkins hit 9.97 at 134 mph in qualifying.
Ashley Gable represented one of the few female racers in the LSX Shootout, but that didn't seem to bother her. The Mt. Airy, Maryland native pedaled her Artic White TA with the help of an L92-based 427, ET Performance heads, stout hydraulic roller, and Turbo 400. Though she prefers to keep the TA a streetcar, she certainly didn't mind setting a new best e.t. of 9.84 in qualifying, though her 132-mph trap speed failed to parallel an earlier effort of 135 mph with a slower e.t. Kevin Patterson of KFP Racing piloted Valentino Juncaj's black '95 Firebird all the way to the semifinals despite a hefty 429-cube iron block, carburetor, and 3,400-pound waistline. C5R heads were the principal reason he managed a 9.56 at 139 mph in qualifying, though the 'Bird has previously gone 9.32 at 144. A lack of traction and an issue with the valvesprings held them back initially, but the two were determined to challenge the big dogs with some low 9-second runs. Speaking of issues, the ET Performance-owned '80 Cutlass had trouble with its TH350 all weekend. Problems with staging were the result most likely of converter issues, which had them wrenching furiously before the first elimination round. R&D man Eric Von Hentschel decided to pair his Cutlass with ET owner Cary Chouinard's 920-horse, 440ci LSX and ETP canted valve heads less than a month before the Shootout. In fact, the first three passes on the Cutty were during qualifying. Former Hardcore Racing pilot and fabricator Jason McNeil was commissioned to wheel the Cutlass and build the headers. Using a FAST XFI ECU and an SB.2 intake, the combo easily revs to 8800 rpm and cut a best of 9.58 at 140 mph.
The Six Speeds Inc. Sunset Orange Camaro and SAM's Hugger Orange SS were easily the two favorites to win All Motor. Owner and pilot Joe Huneycutt took the SOM Camaro to a new best of 9.14 at 145, a record for T56-equipped F-bodies, during qualifying from a previous best of 9.26. However, the 925-plus horse 414-cid LSX-based motor broke a rod shortly after and cracked the #7 cylinder. As perhaps the most powerful non-canted valve-headed, naturally aspirated Gen III/IV out there, it will be interesting to see what this solid roller combo does in the months that follow. The SAM HO SS uses a more classic Gen III recipe of C5R heads and block with the hope of becoming the first to reach the 8s au natural. With the previous LS6 combo, pilot Judson Massingill had run 9.10s without the required 250 pounds of ballast. The new motor, however, makes 925 horses (up from 860) with a .900-inch lift solid roller cam, dry sump oiling, and sheetmetal intake. Like the Six Speeds car, Judson also chose to row his own gears, except with a more drag-race friendly Jericho 4-speed. Shifting at about 7000 rpm, Massingill surpassed Huneycutt to become the number one qualifier with an amazing 9.04 at 151. // scott parker
GM Performance Parts LSX Drag Radial
Drag Radial takes a GM body, adds a GM-manufactured LS aluminum or iron block, throws a single type of power adder on top of it, and goes head-to-head on a .400 Pro Tree to see who's really baddest of them all. But once you choose the type of power adder, things really get interesting: you can add a single centrifugal racing supercharger with a max inlet diameter of 6 inches (external OD), impeller inducer diameter of 5.5 inches, impeller exducer diameter of 8 inches, 4-inch discharge diameter, and a housing diameter of 12 inches max. Going the single turbo route means anything up to and including a conventional 106mm unit. If twin turbos are your thing, up to two conventional 76mm hairdryers are allowed. And the spray? Any nitrous system and any number of stages it takes. All of that extra airflow works its way through OEM or OEM-style cylinder heads, and those legal heads can be massaged to be as bad as you need 'em to be. Dry sump systems are a go, as are any type of fuel injection system and intake manifold, including sheetmetal or fabricated. Any non-split carburetor is permitted, with a maximum of two carbs. Any automatic or OEM-style manual transmissions are permitted, as is any torque converter, including lock-up types. Converters are not permitted with manual transmissions, and clutch-activated automatic transmissions are prohibited. You can use two-steps, trans-brakes, and line-locks, but no electronic driving aids, throttle stops, delay boxes, or auto shifters. Stock type suspensions, ladder bars, and non-OEM 4-links are permitted to get the power to the ground, as are full- or mini-tubs. Notched rails are OK as long as the rails are in the factory location, and wheelie bars and aftermarket K-members are all good. Front tires had to be at least 4.5 inches wide, and being a drag radial only class, a 325mm max DOT drag radial, on any size wheel and with or without bead locks, was the rule.
This class was set up to be the Wild West of the LSX Shootout, and it didn't disappoint: from Florida to Canada and from Missouri to Connecticut, hardcore drag radial participants rolled into Memphis with visions of a first-place win, $3,000, and an LS7 engine.
Buick racer Cal Hartline raised a few eyebrows with his Grand National LS1 swap. Though he wasn't able to get a stout bullet into the bad black G-body before the event, he unleashed a 106mm turbo on the near-stock LS1 and cut some high 9-second times at 143 during qualifying. With a dedicated engine build this Buick could be trouble. Wayne Gopshes made the trek from Glen Burnie, Maryland, with a 408 Camaro packed with two stages of Nitrous Pro Flow action. This big-inch mill stuffed with 450 extra horses on spray laid down 9.4s at 154, but it wasn't enough grunt to survive the first round of qualifying against a 7-second car. Louisberg, North Carolina denizen Brad Boone is a good example of just how brutal this class could be: Brad was packing an 8-second 427 Camaro-and turned an 8.9 at 162 in the first round-but was covered by a full second and eliminated. Tough crowd.
Chad Smith of Fredrick, Maryland, showed up with a 402 iron block sporting 235cc Trick Flow heads and two 200 shots. Smith fought through electrical issues to run a 9 flat at 153 in his Camaro, but couldn't hang with a low 8-second challenger and had to put it on the trailer.
C.J. Peddy was the lone Texas entrant in Drag Radial, and this Lewisville resident brought an '02 Camaro packin' an LQ9 iron block, Dart heads, and a massive 279/292 duration, .732 lift solid roller cam. Toss a 350 RWHP dry kit on top, and you're looking at nearly 1000 rear-wheel ponies! He was hoping for 8.20s and nearly got there with an 8.47 at 163, but it wasn't good enough to best his 7-second first round opponent.
East Side Performance's Ken Quartuccio came loaded for bear-a 440-inch LSX block was topped with ET Performance 265 heads and stuffed with a boatload of nitrous. This '99 Camaro used to run low 9s, but was putting down 8.47 at 160-plus in Memphis. Despite that solid number, he couldn't best the 8 flat his opponent put down in the first round, and had to pack it in. // rick Jensen
For extended coverage of the LSX Shootout, including a full recap of the car show and extra stuff we couldn't cram into the magazine, log onto www.gmhightechperformance.com