Generally, by the seventh time around in most any event, the dust settles and expectations of its success can lean on the conservative side—not so with Holley’s insanely exciting LS Fest. According to company reps, the 2016 version held in Bowling Green, Kentucky, saw double-digit growth at the gate from the previous year, while entries for the Grand Champion portion of the competition sold out earlier than ever. Those are the folks competing for accumulative points in autocross, drag racing, and the 3S Challenge in hopes of becoming the 2016 LS Fest Grand Champion.
The event also featured some of the best drag racing the LS Fest has ever seen, highlighted by 14 late-model COPO Camaros battling it out in the Lingenfelter/SAM COPO class. The wheels-up action was absolutely insane. Other classes included Hooker Blackheart Late-Model Heads-Up, Nitro Gear Street King, Chevrolet Performance Stock, Callies Drag Radial, Wiseco Real Street, Three Pedals Rumble (Index), and 1320 Wheels True Street.
There was also the Earls Dyno Challenge, which saw four-digit numbers from Anthony Peck who spun the rollers in his 2010 Camaro to the tune of 1,290.81 horsepower in the Power Adder class. In the All-Motor class, Keith Sullivan finished in First Place with a 535.68 pull in his 1999 Camaro.
The Raymonds Performance Show-N-Shine featured some top-quality rides from all over the country, yet it was the truly amazing 1955 Chevy of Denny Terzich that brought the house down. Details also came to life in the Chevy High Performance Show-N-Shine Shootout, as Gary Hutcherson took top honors with his nicely done 1970 Camaro.
With standing room only, a huge crowd filled the bleachers surrounding the Car Craft Engine Swap Challenge. The idea here is for two teams to swap out a stock engine from two nearly identical cars and replace them with a new LS engine. This year it was CJ Durbin and Tyler Sandau from Moline, Illinois, going up against the father/son duo of Eric and Austin Bujnevicie from Tennessee to perform the task in two third-gen Camaros within the shortest amount of time. The rules state that the car has to be a driving, running car before the clocks stop. It was the team of CJ and Tyler who completed the swap first with a winning time of 1 hour and 26 minutes. They walked away with the LS engine and all of the Holley and MSD components as the prize.
There was also a Countryside Cruise, Road Course Rally, the always crowd-pleasing Drifting Challenge, and a huge manufacturers midway for those looking to upgrade their ride with the best performance products on the market.
New this year was the addition of a second autocross track set up in the NCM Motorsports Park’s massive pit/parking area. This did two good things: it split the competitors into two groups, which enabled the competitors more track time than in previous events. While one group was at the traditional autocross course at Beech Bend Raceway, the other group was having a go at the course set up at NCM. And with the larger course layout at NCM, competitors could get more speed and let those healthy LS engines out of their cages. Cool, eh?
With three days of fierce competition starting on Friday, by Sunday afternoon hundreds of autocross laps and drag racing runs were in the books. It was an absolute true test of man and machine to see which car and driver would last the longest. In the end it was announced that Mike DuSold in his twin-turbo 1967 Camaro was the 2016 Grand Champion. He finished the weekend with a total of 85 points accumulated from the dragstrip (25 points), NCM Autocross (22 points), Beech Bend Autocross (20 points), and 3S Challenge (18 points). Besides receiving a big-ass trophy and an embroidered jacket, he got a check for $1,000 and an invite to the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational in Las Vegas.
Chevy High Performance High Noon Shootout
Every year, Chevy High Performance gets involved in the LS Fest by sponsoring the Chevy High Noon Shootout Autocross on Friday. This year we took the top six drivers from the morning Beech Bend autocross session and put them up against each other at noon in a three-lap shootout. The driver with the lowest accumulated time of the three laps was deemed the winner and received a $500 gift certificate from Holley and a nice plaque from Chevy High Performance.
This year’s Top Six competitors were Mike DuSold, Josh Leisinger, Bret Voelkel, Al Unser Jr. (yes, that Al Unser Jr.), Karl Dunn, and Danny Popp. Once the dust and tire smoke had dissipated, it was Danny Popp taking First Place in a bittersweet win as he piloted the C6 Corvette that belonged to his best friend Todd Rumpke, who just days earlier lost his long battle with cancer. Danny was quick to convey, “Todd was with me the whole time. I really had nothing to do with it.”
We here at Chevy High Performance got to know Todd as a fierce competitor and good friend to everyone involved in what has become a close-knit autocross community. Our condolences go out to Todd’s family, and Danny Popp, who was competing in honor of Todd.
|Chevy High Noon Shootout Lap Times|
|Run 1||Run 2||Run 3||Total|
|First Place – Danny Popp||32.859||32.904||32.884||98.647|
|Second Place – Karl Dunn||33.084||33.464||33.656||100.204|
|Third Place – Al Unser Jr.||33.689||33.372||33.265||100.326|
|Fourth Place – Bret Voelkel||33.78||34.185||33.177||101.142|
|Fifth Place – Josh Leisinger||34.057||33.762||33.987||101.806|
|Sixth Place – Mike DuSold||33.558||37.892||33.233||104.673, 2 Cones|
Overall, the LS Fest is just that: a festival celebrating everything LS powered (and now LT1 powered, too). The huge event draws enthusiasts from all over the country to join in on the action.
For those LS-powered enthusiasts on the west side of the country who wish to get in on the action, Holley recently announced a second LS Fest event that will take place May 5-7, 2017, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Go to holleylsfest.com for more information.