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2014 Holley LS Fest - Take Five

The Holley LS Fest matures into a paradise of performance

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For five straight years, the folks at Holley have been feeding the LS engine craze by taking over Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky, to put on their annual LS Fest—the most exciting event for spectators and crafty hot rodders concealing LS power under the hood of their muscle cars. It’s where you’ll find the fastest, quickest, baddest, and most insane LS-motivated cars in the country. The place is an absolute frenzy of LS goodness.

It’s the time of year (September 5 -7) when drag racers, autocrossers, and drifters converge on the same grounds to compete in their respective disciplines. No, we didn’t find drag cars attempting to break loose on the drift track, nor did we see drifters trying to slide their over-sprung rides in a straight line down Beech Bend’s quarter-mile. But we did notice that drivers from all three variations of competition were showing major respect for each other’s driving abilities. The drag racers were thoroughly entertained by the drifters and vice versa.

Although the event was heavily populated with late-model Chevy muscle, the fact that the LS engine has become the engine swap of choice in recent years, there were plenty of classic Chevys on the grounds for those who crave old-school styled muscle.


Third Gen Camaro 2/39

Jessie Coulter brought out his twin-turbo-powered Real Street third-gen Camaro where he qualified in the Seventh spot going 8.488 at 166.52 mph. He ran a best e.t. of 8.315 at 167.45 in the first round, but was knocked out in the second round of eliminations.

C10 Pickup 3/39

Young Jarrod Leisinger was running the “Crushed” C10 pickup all weekend and cracked the autocross with a best lap of 36.315 and the 3S Challenge with a 12.794. His combined times put him in the Twenty-First position overall. With a little more seat time, this kid will be one to watch out for real soon.

2014 Chevy Camaro 4/39

Ken Thwaits has been beating on this ’14 Camaro at quite a few events all year and is really starting to get it dialed in. He finished the autocross with a best time of 34.999, which put him in the Thirteenth position. He managed to bring the hefty Camaro in at Eleventh overall for the Grand Champion portion of the event.

1970 Z28 5/39

Chris German’s cool ’70 Z28 features a bunch of suspension parts he whittled up himself. He came out for a good time and was wheeling around cones all weekend.

1963 Grand Sport Corvette 6/39

Tyler Powell was charging hard all weekend. Even though these cones couldn’t escape the wrath of his ’63 Grand Sport Corvette on this autocross run, he finished in Third Place overall for the Grand Championship. As a side note, he took Fifth Place in the Autocross Shootout.


Besides the variety of racing action going on during the three-day event, there was also a dyno challenge, an engine swap challenge, countryside cruise, and a show-n-shine. A live band on Saturday evening kept the party going, and there was plenty of great food and beverages to ensure the fun stayed cranked up well into the night.

Competition-wise, the LS Fest Grand Champion not only takes home huge bragging rights, but is awarded $1,000 in cash, a plaque, a jacket, and an invite to compete in the coveted Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational to be held at the Las Vegas Speedway the weekend following the 2014 SEMA Show.

So what does it take to become the LS Fest Grand Champion? Mad driving skills and a kick-ass car, that’s what. Actually, the driver who accumulates the most points in the autocross, 3S Challenge (speed, stop, steering), and drag race nabs top honors. There are also 10 additional points up for grabs by entering the show-n-shine (5 points) and participating in the 70-mile Countryside Cruise (5 points).

The competition was fierce, with this year’s Grand Champion being decided by a single point. It was the battle of the Corvettes, as Josh Leisinger in his C2 beat out 2013 Holley LS Fest Grand Champion Danny Popp in his ’72 Vette. The Corvette domination continued as Third Place was taken by Tyler Powell in his ’63 Corvette.

With the popularity of LS-powered hot rods continuing to grow, the 5th Annual Holley LS Fest saw the previous year’s spectator attendance records fall while the car count for show cars and competitors blew the doors off last year’s event numbers as well.

Keep an eye on lsfest.com for an upcoming announcement regarding the dates for Holley LS Fest 6.

2013 Ls Fest Danny Popp 7/39

Being the 2013 LS Fest Grand Champion, Danny Popp was the odds-on favorite to take home the 2014 event trophy, but it wasn’t to be. Danny had the quickest autocross lap of the weekend with a 33.604-second run, a quarter-mile time of 11.428 seconds, and he also took the top spot in the 3S Challenge with a 22.311. All that effort put him in Second Place overall with a total of 76 points.

2003 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 8/39

Before hitting the wall near the finish line of the autocross, David Moster took his ’03 Z06 to a best lap of 37.335 seconds. With the help of some fellow Corvette owners, a big-ass hammer, and a few spare parts, he was able to get his car back in shape to make the 4-hour drive home.

Chevy High Performance High-Noon Shootout

Being a proud sponsor of the LS Fest since its humble beginnings, for the past five years we’ve added our own little “twist” to the autocross competition by creating the Chevy High Performance High-Noon Shootout, which takes place on Friday at … you guessed it: 12:00. This year we handpicked nine cars that were not necessarily the quickest around the track, but cars that reflected a little more of the home-built side of the hobby.

The way the High Noon Shootout worked is each of the nine cars got three runs on the autocross, and the car with the lowest combined time is crowned the High-Noon Shootout champ.

It was cool to watch as the cars varied from a Chevelle wagon to a four-door ’55 Chevy. But this year’s Shootout winner was Billy Utley in his ’72 Nova. Billy’s combined time of 106.059 seconds barely nudged out Eric Earney, who took the second spot in his gorgeous ’67 Camaro with a combined time of 106.874. For is efforts, Billy received a Chevy High Performance winner’s plaque and a $500 gift certificate from Holley.

1972 Chevrolet Nova 24/39

Billy Utley

1967 Chevy Camaro 25/39

Eric Earney

1965 Chevy Malibu 26/39

Aaron Oberle

1969 Chevy Camaro 27/39

Greg Cullum

1968 Chevy Camaro 28/39

Mike South

1968 Chevy Camaro White Gold 29/39

Suzy Bauter

1966 Chevelle Wagon 30/39

Gordie Rutkowski

1955 Chevy 31/39

Dan Peterson

1969 Chevy Chevelle 32/39

Stacy Herman

The Competitors
Name Position Car Time (in sec.)
Billy Utley First Place 1972 Nova 106.059
Eric Earney Second Place 1967 Camaro 106.874
Aaron Oberle Third Place 1965 Malibu 107.475
Greg Cullum Fourth Place 1969 Camaro 109.689
Mike South Fifth Place 1968 Camaro 118.467
Suzy Bauter Sixth Place 1968 Camaro 119.477
Gordie Rutkowski Seventh Place 1966 Chevelle Wagon 125.101
Dan Peterson Eighth Place 1955 Chevy 126.476
Stacy Herman Ninth Place 1969 Chevelle 177.281

1970 Chevrolet Camaro 33/39

In the car show area we found this gorgeous ’70 Camaro owned by Darin Watkins. It’s motivated by a carbureted Mast Motorsports 416ci LS3 that turns out about 600 hp.

1962 Chevrolet Bel Air 34/39

Troy Russell’s ’62 Bel Air got everyone’s attention in the car show area, including us. It’s powered by a twin-turbo LS6 that sits on a custom chassis with Air Ride suspension—good enough to win the Chevy High Performance magazine Sunday show winner.

Troy Russel 1962 Chevrolet Bel Air 35/39

Troy Russell’s ’62 Bel Air got everyone’s attention in the car show area, including us. It’s powered by a twin-turbo LS6 that sits on a custom chassis with Air Ride suspension—good enough to win the Chevy High Performance magazine Sunday show winner.

1978 Trans Am 36/39

We never put anything other than Chevy-branded cars in the magazine—unless they are upside down or on fire. Well, here we have Shane Sherman in his ’78 Trans Am lighting up (literally) the autocross. With fuel escaping out of the rear, it got everyone’s attention and charred his back bumper in the process.

Josh Leisinger Ls Fest Competitor 37/39

First-time LS Fest competitor Josh Leisinger made the best of his debut by taking home the Grand Champion award. He blistered the drag portion of the event taking First Place with a 10.172 e.t.—no small feat especially on street tires. By taking Third on the autocross and Second in the 3S Challenge, he accumulated a total of 77 points—one point more than Danny Popp, last year’s Grand Champion.

Wilwood Vendor 38/39

The manufacturers midway featured a huge amount of vendors. There was an array of engines, engine components, suspension products, go-fast goodies, and even brake companies on hand to help bring your hot rod to a halt very quickly. Wilwood brought out their latest and greatest, and their knowledgeable engineers were kept busy answering technical questions all weekend.

Ls Engine 39/39

The team of Mike Edwards and Tyler Lauters won the Car Craft Engine Swap Challenge, where they removed a running non-LS engine and swapped in an LS1. In order to seal the deal, the engine is required to start up and the car has to be driven a pre-determined distance without overheating or having any other mechanical issues. The duo completed the engine shuffle in 2 hours and 9 seconds.

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