LS Fest West: Our Cruise To Hoover Dam

HooverDam

When we first heard that Holley was bringing LS Fest out west, we knew we had to do something special, especially considering it was in Las Vegas—just four short hours from our office doors.

We thought long and hard about just what exactly that something special was. We considered hosting roll racing or even a dyno shoot out, but in the end we thought a cruise would be just the ticket. While a cruise may not be as “glitzy” as some of our other endeavors, we thought it would let us get better acquainted with you, our loyal readers—and that’s what really counted to us.

And while Las Vegas has quite a few—ehm—“attractions” shall we say? There is nothing better than the Hoover Dam right as the sun is starting to sink in the sky. In fact, we’re willing to bet that a lot of you reading this have been to Vegas at least a couple times, but how many of you have ever ventured north to see one of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century? Plus, what a perfect back drop to see some awesome cars in their natural habitat.

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Kevin and Carmen Farantino made the trip all the way from the bay area in their "his and hers" Camaros. The green 1SS and white ZL1 made quite the pair and they brought the whole family out for the cruise.

Initially, we were pretty worried about two things: 1. That enough of you would even show up early to make it a cruise and 2. that the traffic at the dam would be so bad that it would ruin the entire event. After all, this was our very first year hosting the cruise and a lot could go wrong with something if you’ve never done before.

But as the date inched closer and closer, we were stoked to meet you guys and were getting one of our project cars ready to unveil. Unfortunately, as many of you may well know, project cars don’t always go according to plan. While we were rushing to get the car ready, we discovered that the block we were planning to use already had a crack in it—not exactly the discovery you want before you’re set to drive an unproven setup 300 miles.

Just about everything imaginable was on hand and representing at the LSX Magazine cruise to Hoover Dam.

Representing old- and new-school in one homogenized group is how we roll.

As luck would have it, our friends over at Summit Racing rushed us an emergency short-block from Blue Print—giving us back some hope that we would make it out to the event with, what was supposed to be, our flag ship. But alas, even Summit’s quick hand couldn’t prevent our project from missing the event. In true project car fashion, we had a few unexpected hang ups along the way and had to forego bringing the car out.

But rest assured, we will have a few surprise project cars for you to ogle at next year’s LS Fest West, which is set to take place again in 2018. With a bruised ego from not completing our project in time, we turned to Chevrolet who kindly leant us a bright yellow sixth-gen Camaro to lead the cruise with. Many of you pointed it out as the cruise gathered but we were just happy to be in a musclecar headed for the dam.

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After arriving in Sin City, we headed straight for Las Vegas Motorspeedway to gather for the cruise. A lot of our fans actually beat us to the punch and were waiting while we collected our media credentials for the weekend. And in all honesty, we were flattered by the turn out. Cars from far and wide turned up to cruise to Hoover Dam with us, and we can’t thank you enough for joining us.

If you didn’t get a chance to make it this year, we will be doing the exact same cruise for next year’s LS Fest West—though this time we’ll be in a street bruiser of our own. As we watched cars trickle in a few cars caught our eye, but none more so than Jeff Kay’s Mazda B2000. I know what you’re thinking, “it’s an import, why should I care?” This little truck is one of the coolest builds we’ve ever seen—that’s why.

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The truck is called Stock_ish. Jeff tells us that it was inspired by a friend after the LS swap who said “it looks stock…ish.”

The lawnmower and weed whacker are bolted to the Mazda's frame using 1/2-inch bolts, allowing it to pass tech inspection and drag the quarter in safety.

We’ve got a full length feature coming your way on the truck, so stay tuned, but we will give you some of the highlights. The little Mazda is sporing a twin turbo 4.8 making roughly 600 horse to the rear tires. It’s also running a flex fuel system which allows it to run on pump gas or corn. The truck was arguably the hit of LS Fest West and could be caught competing in autocross, road race, and drag racing—this thing does it all.

Most people’s reaction is first to the lawn mower and weed whacker in the bed of the truck. Kay told us that when he first started racing with the truck, people mentioned to him that it looked like it was there for maintenance on the flower beds, not to throw down. So Kay embraced it. The lawnmower and weed whacker are actually bolted to the truck’s frame with 1/2-inch bolts to make sure it isn’t going anywhere while he raced. He’s even got it to pass safety inspection like that and Las Vegas Motor speedway was no different.

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It's no easy task keeping over 40 cars together in Las Vegas rush hour traffic, but most managed to keep our bright yellow Camaro in sight.

The freeway was surprisingly open once we got off surface streets. Needless to say, it's hard to get a bunch of rowdy fire-breathing LS cars to behave on the freeway but we did our best.

With the crew rounded up, we headed out for Hoover. And though there was moderate traffic on surface street—it was, after all, rush hour—most of our participants managed to stay together while we got some awesome shots of the cars doing their thing. We also live streamed the whole thing on Facebook and capture a few minutes of Mexico as well—if you catch our drift.

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We gathered everyone back up at the Lake Mead Visitor Center, in case we lost anyone along the way. It gave us the chance to see some of the amazing cars that came on the cruise up close and personal and let our enthusiasts mingle with one another.

We loved seeing the cars at speed as we headed for the Lake Mead visitor center, our first stop on the cruise. Once, we got off the main highway, we practically had the place to ourselves. As we rolled into the visitor center, it was completely empty and perfect for mingling. As we parked and let the participants talk, we spotted a few more LSX Magazine favorites.

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Cole Penny’s Camaro drew a crowd

No boost under here, but you might notice a little bit of laughing gas.

Cole Penny created quite a commotion with his restomod ’67 Camaro. The car features a raucous 427 cubic inch LS backed by a T-56 magnum gearbox. At the time, the car was actually for sale for north of $100,000 if that gives you any inclination as to how amazing the build on this car was. No panel was left untouched and the car is hands down one of the best first-gens we’ve ever seen—and that’s saying a lot these days.

Penny had his kids and wife along for the ride making the cruise a family outing—as did many of our other participants. We love that. There’s no better way to pass on the tradition of hot rodding that to get your kids involved; we loved having them along for the ride.

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As you can see here, we virtually had the whole place to ourselves. Turns out, the acoustics at the Hoover Dam are perfect for wicked sounding LS engines.

After drooling over shiny sheet metal for 45 minutes or so, we figured it was about time to finish off the cruise by crossing the Hoover Dam. As we pulled into the park, we were astonished to see that we basically had the place to ourselves. Throaty exhaust notes reverberated off the canyon walls with nary a Honda to interrupt it. We even had enough space to stop and get a group picture of everyone that came out—a rarity at the Hoover Dam we can assure you.

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Since our group picture was spur of the moment, not all of our participants were at their cars for this shot. We didn’t think we’d have enough parking room to even get this shot. Rest assured, we’ll be filling this parking lot up completely next year.

With the sun setting quickly, however, we got our final pictures and then headed back to the hotel rooms as our group slowly dispersed into the night. As we headed for home base Jeff Kay’s word rang in our ears. He said, “I told my friends we needed to be out to LS Fest West early and they were like ‘no, why don’t we go on Friday?’ and I told them I have to be there for the LSX Magazine Hoover Dam cruise.”

Without getting all poetic on you, we live for comments like that. Our sole purpose for existing is to bring you guys awesome content and Kay’s kind words were the highlight of our trip.

We can’t even begin to tell you how much fun with had and we are looking forward to next year being even bigger. It was awesome meeting some of you and we hope to meet more of you next year. Until then, keep it tuned here to LSX Magazine and check out our gallery for the rest of our pictures. 

Photo gallery

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About the author

Chase Christensen

Chase Christensen hails from Salt Lake City, and grew up around high-performance GM vehicles. He took possession of his very first F-body— an ’86 Trans Am— at the age of 13 and has been wrenching ever since.
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