As many people close to the automotive world might already know, Bowling Green, Kentucky, is home to the National Corvette Museum and GM's Corvette assembly plant. Corvettes have been assembled there since 1981. But what many might not know is that it's also home to Fruit of the Loom, Camping World, and the place Holley calls home-yep, the same Holley that has been dealing out Double Pumpers, Dominators, and Street Avengers for decades. Now, with the undeniable popularity of fuel injection, they've made their presence known in the world of EFI-related performance products. And in that vein have decided to host the Inaugural Holley LS Fest held at nearby Beech Bend Raceway Park-a three-day automotive shindig dedicated to everything LS.
Beech Bend is also home to the Holley NHRA Reunion. It has been since the inaugural event back in 2003. It's a fantastic celebration of NHRA's rich drag racing history. Needless to say, the place reeks of drag racing nostalgia. But for the second weekend in September 2010, it was all about modern horsepower-LS horsepower to be exact. And it wasn't open to just late-model hot rods, either; classic cars were encouraged to participate in the action as long as they relied on LS power under the hood, and there were many. Hundreds of cars participated and thousands came to witness the fuel-injected frenzy.
The event was broken down into five events: Drag Racing, Autocross, Speed Stop Challenge, Show-n-Shine, and a Countryside Cruise. The beauty of this event was that participants were able to compete in as many aspects of the competition as they chose. But those vying for the Holley LS Fest Grand Champion Award would need to compete in all five of the aforementioned competitions in order to receive the maximum number of points and a chance to take home a really tall trophy and huge bragging rights. The winner would also receive an invitation to Optima's Street Car Challenge in Pahrump, Nevada, the Saturday following the SEMA show in Las Vegas.
The Inaugural Holley LS Fest Grand Champion Award went to Mark Stielow in his recently completed LS9-powered '69 Camaro he calls the Red Devil. Mark ended his weekend in the top three in points of all three performance competitions: The Ridetech/Camaro Performers magazine Autocross, Baer Speed Stop Challenge, and the drag race. Although not part of the accumulated points, Mark also won the Spectre Top Speed portion of the Speed Stop Challenge. Participation in the Show-n-Shine and Country Cruise was worth five points each.
To welcome the inaugural event, a large number of automotive media outlets were in attendance. The staff from Hot Rod magazine was on hand covering the event, as were staffers from Car Craft magazine who sponsored the Engine Swap Challenge, and Chevy High Performance magazine sponsored Saturday's High Noon Shootout at the autocross. Another one of our sister publications, GM High-Tech Performance magazine, sponsored the Shut Your Face drag race, which featured an unlimited nitrous class with the only stipulation being the car had to weigh at least 3,000 pounds. With your pals at Camaro Performers magazine, alongside Ridetech, sponsoring the autocross, we gave out the award for the quickest autocross lap of the weekend. Brian Finch took top honors by recording a quick time of 1:03.024 in his '71 Camaro.
Not only were we sponsors of this event, but we also brought out two of our own project cars to see how well they would do in the heat of battle (see sidebar article). One driveshaft and a clutch were given up to the drag racing gods, and we managed to knock the front end of our fourth-gen so far out of alignment that it somehow became totally committed to a constant left turn. That was weird.
With all the competitive events going on these days, it's really an exciting time to be a hot rodder. And the way these competitions are playing out, having a car that can do multiple things good is more important than having a car that can do one thing great. Sure you can have a drag car that kicks ass on the quarter-mile, but if you want to do well at an event with multiple competitions, your ride better be street worthy, able to turn a corner, and stop when you ask it.