Back in 2010, Holley came up with the idea of hosting an event to celebrate everything great about GM’s line of LS engines. After all, it seemed like the perfect way to show the company’s big move into electronic fuel injection (EFI) and all the parts they were churning out to make LS engines faster and swaps as painless as possible. This was the seventh September where Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky, has hosted the event, and it was the biggest yet.
Those “not in the know” might think an event just for the LS (and the new GM LT lineup) engine crowd might be too specific. Well, given the popularity of the platform, it wasn’t tough to sell out and fill the venue. In fact, the event has become so large that Holley added driving events at the NCM Motorsports Park (located a mile away) to handle the hundreds of cars looking to have some tire-squealing fun.
Keeping everyone entertained, Holley arranged for a number of activities. For those who wanted to drive, there were two autocross courses, a 3S “Speed Stop” Challenge, and of course, drag racing. There was also a small section to “fun run” the NCM Motorsports Park track or for a few bucks you could run the larger track. There was even a drifting demonstration and the loud, but stationary, Dyno Challenge. In addition to all of this our sister title Car Craft sponsored an event where two teams of wrench twisters competed to perform an LS engine swap in the fastest time. How fast can you pull a small-block, install an LS engine and go on a cruise? With a major prize awaiting the winner the answer this year was 1 hour and 26 minutes. (What was the major prize you ask? The winners kept all of the parts and pieces required to make the swap … now that’s a grand prize!) Add in a vendor’s midway showing off the latest and greatest LS products along with a smokin’ hot car show, and there was plenty to keep the thousands of spectators entertained. Except for a mid-afternoon Saturday squall, the weather was perfect for running both new and old Corvettes in the various venues.
Last year’s winner Danny Popp piloted his late friend’s C6 Z06 to wins in both autocrosses and a 3rd place finish in the 3S Challenge in addition to winning Chevy High Performance’s High-Noon Shootout.
Ryan Mathews wheeled Detroit Speed’s very patriotic 1972 Vette to a 7th place in the BB autocross, 7th at the NCM autocross, 9th at the dragstrip, and 19th in the 3S Challenge. Add it all up and Ryan ended up tied for 7th place for the weekend.
We remember when Karl Dunn’s 2002 Z06 was nearly stock. He’s been steadily upgrading both the car and his driving skills. He worked hard all weekend and it paid off with 2nd place at the BB autocross and 6th place at the NCM autocross. Even with troubles at the dragstrip and 3S Challenge his strong autocross scores landed him tied for 10th overall.
Paul Curley’s 2003 Z06 didn’t look raced out, but it sure was fast on track were it ran an 11.463 at the dragstrip (13th) and finished 9th at the BB autocross and 3rd at the NCM autocross. Toss in a strong 8th place in the 3S Challenge and it put him a very impressive 6th place for the weekend.
As expected, the field was thick with Corvettes with Danny Popp dominating both autocrosses and the 3S Challenge in Todd Rumpke’s badass C6 Z06. (Rumpke passed away prior to the event and Popp thought running Rumpke’s Vette would be a great tribute to his friend.) The big prize for the weekend was the Grand Champion (GC) award that is given to the driver that gathers the most points in the two autocrosses, dragstrip, and the 3S Challenge. Popp won it last year, so he was ineligible this year, but, if you do the math he would have won this year, too, in terms of points. At the end of the event Rumpke was named honorary Grand Champion of the event, a very fitting tribute. One third of the cars in attendance were Corvettes. In fact, 10 of the top 13 cars were Corvettes. No shocker there! Add in all the fast Vettes on the dragstrip and Corvettes had a great weekend in terms of racing success. So, if you have a new Vette or an older one with a modern mill, then mark your calendar and be sure to get in on the action next year.
Complete Event Results can be found at: Complete Event Results can be found at: https://www.holley.com/blog/post/2016_holley_ls_fest_overall_event_results/
The C7 Z06 was built for handling, but it’s also more than capable at the dragstrip. Jeff Nance’s 2015 Vette did well in the Hooker Late Model class where he made it to the semi-finals before being sent home. On this run he put down a solid 10.474 at 132.65 mph.
One of our favorite Corvettes at the event was the 1963 Grand Sport replica brought to the party by Tyler Powell. The black C2 ran an 11.263 (7th) at the dragstrip and he finished 11th at the BB autocross with an 8th place finish at the NCM autocross. He struggled in the 3S challenge (30th) but still managed to finish tied for 10th overall.
When David Schardt isn’t running Forgeline Wheels he messing around with his 2004 Z06. He just started modifying the Vette and has been working on his driving skills, so this was a great chance to get a lot of seat time.
At first glance Joe Gregory’s 2007 Z06 looks fairly stock but looks can be deceiving. He killed the dragstrip with a blast of 10.679 (2nd) and finished 6th at the BB autocross while struggling a bit at the NCM autocross (17th). At the 3S Challenge he bounced back with a 6th place finish which helped bump him up to 5th place overall.
The Leisinger family had some very badass cars at the event, including this nearly race car C2 Corvette.
This was the first event we were able to run the 1999 FRC Vette (piloted by Yancy Johns) we’ve been modifying for the last few years. A rocker stud pulled out which kept us off track most of Friday, but with the help of some friends we were back on track Saturday so we could have a little fun.
We really wanted to see Joe De Dona make a full pass in his C5 Corvette, but mechanical issues took him out in the first round of the Callies Drag Radial class.
Except for downpour midafternoon on Saturday the weather was great, which meant the crowds were thick at the racing venues as well as the vendor midway. We heard a rumor that around 30,000 T-shirts were sold, so that should give you some idea of the event’s popularity.
People typically think of Corvettes as handling cars, but there were a surprising number of them at the dragstrip as well.
When your dad is a driver like Danny Popp you have some rather large shoes to fill, but Nathan Popp made his dad proud with a 10th place in the BB autocross and 5th at the NCM autocross. A lack of engine mods hurt him at the dragstrip where he fell into 30th place, but he made up some ground by finishing 18th in the 3S Challenge. Add it all up and it was good for 13th place overall. We imagine he will talking to dad about a bigger engine for his C5.
Here, we caught Paul Smith running a 9.735 at 126.33 mph in his 1998 Corvette. Unfortunately, his dial in was 9.75, which meant he broke out and lost the round.
While there were a lot of newer Corvettes at the event there was also quite a few vintage rides fitted with modern LS power. Here, a super-clean C2 tries to stops within the box at the 3S Challenge.
Aside from the autocross track set up the NCM Motorsports Park the event also offered, for a few bucks, track time on the road course. Corvette fans will most certainly recognize the building in the background.
Another sweet classic Vette at the LS Fest was the C3 owned by Kenneth Feldon. On the dragstrip it put down a solid 11.863 quarter-mile pass and finished around 30th place in both the autocrosses. Did he win? No, but he had fun wheeling his Corvette as God intended, and that after all was the whole point of the weekend.