With the advancements in aftermarket suspension components in recent years, many of us car freaks are not shy about getting our cars out for some “spirited” street driving or on the autocross these days. Which, if you think about it, makes total sense. I mean, what’s the point of bolting on or welding in the goods if you aren’t going to push these parts to the limit, right?
So, when the folks at Holley dreamed up the LS Fest in Bowling Green, Kentucky, over seven years ago the autocross was one of the premier attractions for participants—and attendees alike. If you’ve ever gotten out there in your late-model or vintage muscle car, then you know what it’s like to experience the rush of mashing the pedal and cranking the steering wheel into a lateral-g frenzy as you maneuver your car around a course lined by a plethora of strategically placed orange cones, missing a number of them by less than an inch. Talk about addicting.
At the 2017 Holley LS Fest West in Las Vegas, a timed event on the road course was included as part of the Grand Champion competition. Now, if you know how exhilarating driving on an autocross can be, imagine taking that rush to the next level–actually make it 10 levels—beyond what you may already be used to. The experience of driving on a road course is quite different than an autocross in the sense that the speed is multiplied and there are no orange cones to navigate—just a number of ruthless apexes and your judgment on when to brake, turn, and accelerate your way to the quickest lap possible. Sound fun? It is!
And like autocross, as you become more familiar with the course, your lap times get lower, while the adrenaline rush gets higher. With a boosted level of intensity, the driver has no choice but to become more in tune with his/her car and the course.
Although cars run at a much higher speed than on an autocross, the road course in Las Vegas is laid out with plenty of runoff area should things get sketchy going into or coming out of a corner.
At the LS Fest West, drivers got to hang it out for five laps, putting their engines, brakes, suspension, and abilities to the full test, which makes for a stimulating driving experience—one that every car enthusiast should do at least once. Trust me, you’ll have a newfound respect for your car and suspension components like never before and come away with a major feeling of accomplishment.
At the LS Fest West, multiple cars are on track simultaneously, but Holley made sure safety was at the forefront of the road course portion of the event. Passing was only allowed on the straightaways once the slower driver gave a hand signal allowing the faster car to move ahead. All in all, the Road Course Challenge was a great addition to an already fantastic event.
With a large mix of late-model and classic LS-powered cars navigating the approximate 1.3-mile course, we were able to capture images of some of the coolest Camaros, Corvettes, and trucks as they made their way around the final turn.
Top 20 Racepak Road Course Times
1. Rich Willhoff, 1:22.052
2. Mike DuSold, 1:22.409
3. Jordan Priestley, 1:23.579
4. Jake Rozelle, 1:24.027
5. Duke Langley, 1:24.768
6. Brian Hobaugh, 1:24.944
7. Cris Gonzalez, 1:26.253
8. Carrie Willhoff, 1:26.327
9. David Carroll, 1:27.127
10. Al Unser Jr., 1:28.038
11. Kurt Robinson, 1:28.498
12. John Grow, 1:28.708
13. Chris Hart, 1:28.983
14. Robby Unser, 1:29.370
15. Nick Relampagos, 1:29.540
16. Jacob Batz, 1:29.555
17. Wes Drelleshak, 1:29.662
18. Scot Spiewak, 1:29.916
19. John Maddox, 1:30.506
20. Efrain Diaz, 1:30.547
Photos: Nick Licata, Taylor Kempkes, Gregg Blundell