Holley's LS Fest has been a coveted destination for LS engine enthusiasts for the past three years, and once again the Chevy High staff was on the premises to bring our readers all the action. As one of the largest yearly gatherings of late-model GM small-block–powered machines, fans could watch badass Bow Ties competing in all aspects of motorsports all weekend long; from heads-up drag racing on Beech Bend's strip or carving the cones in its oval track, LS engine swap contests, and even an LS truck slalom and drag race competition. If you love to watch hot rods with the latest in pushrod V-8 technology doing battle on the track, this show does not disappoint. While we'll do our best to share the experience in these pages, we have to mention that being at LS Fest in person, smelling the race fuel and burnt rubber, seeing your favorite muscle car hanging their front wheels on the dragstrip, then walking a few feet to see that same model ripping around corners like lightning is something we feel all GM gearheads can appreciate. And in case you missed last year's event, don't fret, you can look forward to September 7-9, 2013 for the next gathering of LS fanatics in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The drag racing part of the event featured six classes that covered just about every level of LS vehicle. The Raymond's Performance fifth-gen Camaro class for example is an index-style drag race that's exclusive for GM's latest muscle car. Shawn Calabrese ended up winning over a huge field of cars with his 9-second racer. The School of Automotive Machinists sponsored the LSX All Motor category this year, which is a heads-up class designed to bring out the quickest naturally aspirated LS vehicles in the country. The All Motor class is all about 10,000-rpm shifts and brutal horsepower. Greg Delaney ended up with the gold in this class after running an 8.37 to take out Judson Massingill. The Callies LSX Drag Radial category is a single power adder class that runs on a 315 drag radial tire. This class has cars running over 200 mph on street-legal rubber! Mark Kohler won in LSX/DR after Mark Carlyle failed to make the final. The LSX Real Street class is another exciting heads-up class where single power adder LS vehicles compete on either 275 drag radials or a 10.5 wide slick, this class is filled with wheelie machines and Adam Preston's event winner is a perfect example of the type of off-the-line action you can enjoy in this class. The LSX Rumble is an index class designed for every level of LS car and is the most popular class of the LS Fest event. Rumble is a class that your average enthusiast can enter and features performances ranging from 9-15 seconds in the quarter-mile. Ray Bulach got through a tough field of cars and won the Rumble crown with his 9-second fourth gen. The Lingenfelter True Street category in one where competitors have to make a 30-mile cruise, make three back-to-back passes without opening the hood, and the person with the quickest average gets the overall win and is crowned "King of True Street". Anthony Peck ended with the overall win in T/S with his LS-powered fox body Mustang. But drag racing was only one part of an amalgam of activities going on at LS Fest this year.
The RideTech Autocross was organized in Beech Bend's asphalt oval and with over 60 entries; fans enjoyed seeing everything from G-bodies to old trucks whipping around the carefully designed cone course. Detroit Speed's Kyle Tucker ended up topping the field in the autocross after running a 41.91. Coming in Second was Britt Marolf who ran a 42.42. In the Baer Speed Stop Challenge, racers were separated into two categories: ABS and Non-ABS (antilock brakes). Tim Emberton could slow his car down the quickest in the ABS class, scoring an 8.23 to his closest rival, Mike Hardy's 8.54. In Non-ABS, Jeff Cleary came to an abrupt 7.40 stop, which was over a full second quicker than his closest competitor. You could also catch some drifting at this year's event, which is very entertaining to watch in person. Jason Jiovani got First Place in the Lucas Oil–sponsored drift contest with his LS-powered S13 Nissan Silvia (which we have to mention fits in the engine bay surprisingly nicely). Carbon Customs and LS1Tech.com presented this year's Show 'n' Shine competition and a whole slew of awards were handed out, including Best Paint for Randy Howard's '66 Nova, Best Muscle Truck for Brad Hamilton's '85 El Camino, just to name a couple. In the ERL Dyno Challenge James Voyles laid down the most horsepower with his turbocharged Nova; a whopping 1,282 to the wheels! Greg Davidson won the Non-Power Adder Dyno Challenge after laying down 544 rwhp. There was also a Car Craft magazine–sponsored Engine Swap Challenge as well at this year's LS Fest. By using some clever methods to make the changeover as quick as possible, the team from Just Automotive was able to overthrow last year's champs, the School of Automotive Machinists.
As we sat in the rental car during a brief shower before the event, watching the crowd of hot LS-powered machines (Chevy and non-Chevy) lining up to get a spot on Beech Bend's asphalt, we reflected on the fact that the LS engine is popular enough to command its own national event; in other words, an engine has a fan base (you don't see a national event dedicated to Honda's K-Series of the Fiat flat-four engine, do you?). We feel this growing group of passionate enthusiasts is a testament to the phenomenal design the folks at GM have refined over the years and by the look of how things went at this year's LS Fest, we'll have many more of these meets to look forward to in the future.
Greg Delaney won in S.A.M. LSX All Motor, running an 8.37 at 160 mph to Judson Massingill’s 8.40 at 161 mph. Unlike the majority of the class, Delaney runs an automatic transmission in his fifth-gen and 10,000-plus–rpm shifts are not uncommon in this naturally aspirated class.
Ray Bulach piloted his ’99 Camaro all the way to the winner’s circle at LS Fest. In the final, his competitor, Brian Palcisko snoozed at the light, allowing Bulach to run closer to his index and get the event within Rumble.
You could check out Chevy’s factory drag car, the COPO Camaro, in action at LS Fest. It ran an incredible 9-second pass straight off the trailer.
Mark Carlyle ran a superfast 206 mph in his IRS-equipped drag radial Corvette, and had the lowest e.t. in the class (7.47), but he broke before he could take on the Pontiac of Mark Kohler from Ohio.
A force to be reckoned with in LSX Real Street is Lingenfelter's Jon Ebert, who runs a turbocharged combination. Ebert managed to run the fastest mph in the class, 164 mph, but he was taken down in elminations.
Ray Litz was the fastest in the Shut Your Face Race, running 146 mph in the eighth-mile. His wheelies over the weekend took a toll however and eventually cost him a win.
In the Baer Brakes Speed Stop Challenge, Tim Emberton won the ABS 0-to-60-to-0 contest with an 8.23 while Jeff Clearly won the Non-ABS challenge with a 7.40.
Mike Meeks contended in the GM High-Tech Magazine “Shut Your Face Race,” an eighth-mile heads-up affair featuring five competitors. Meeks made it past the first round and got a bye run in round two, which meant he’d face Brian Black in the finals. Unfortunately, the race was over before it began as Meek’s lit the red bulb by -0.014, handing the win to Black, who ran a killer 5.03 at 142 mph.
In the Wiseco Pistons Real Street class, Adam Preston made it to the finals and beat George Toll in an 8.52 to 8.75 drag race.
The Autocross Shootout featured the top five quickest drivers of the 60-plus cars in the autocross. When the tire chunks landed, it was Kyle Tucker who got the win with a 41.91, followed by Britt Marolf who had a 42.42, Brian Finch, the Grand Champion of this event, ran a 42.74 to place Third, while Johnny Cichowski ran a 43.29. In the caboose was Camaro Performer’s Nick Licata who whipped out a 43.56.
Terry Neuville was on the premises at LS Fest with his well-crafted Camaro. We like watching Neuville drive because he’s not afraid to put his car through hell in the name of adrenalin and glory.
The manufacturer’s midway at Beech Bend during LS Fest is an attraction in itself. It’s here where you can check out the latest in LS technology like Holley’s neat modular intake manifolds and tunnel rams for the LS powerplant.
We loved to watch Dan Howe’s Monte Carlo whipping around the cones this year. It’s equipped with a full Schwartz chassis and clean white interior.
The winner of the Chevy High Noon Shootout Show & Shine was Jason Webber, who brought his awesome, airbagged ’66 Chevelle.
Kyle Tucker dominated the autocross with his wicked Camaro, running a 41.91. His closest rival was Britt Marolf, who ran a 42.42. Tucker didn’t stop there; he also went on to win the autocross portion of the Chevy High Noon Shootout.
The ERL Performance Dyno Challenge saw James Voyles lay down over 1,200 rwhp in his turbo’d Nova, while Greg Davidson laid down 544 naturally aspirated.
LS Fest's 2012 Grand Champion: Brian Finch
Brian Finch managed to become the Grand Champion of this year's LS Fest after placing in top honors in all five aspects of the event, beating his closest rival, Kyle Tucker, by only three points. "Winning this year's LS Fest was an honor, especially after trying for three years," Finch says. While he didn't best Tucker in the autocross portion of the show, Finch managed to do better in the drag race and speed stop competition, which was enough to put him in the top slot for 2012. "We pulled out all the stops for the drag racing portion and put some nitrous on this year," Finch says. The nitrous put his car solidly in the low 11s, ensuring his victory and title as Grand Champion.