2018 Holley LS Fest West Kicks Off With A Bang

It’s that time of year again. LS engines are in the air, the LS Hog didn’t see its shadow, and Holley LS Fest West is in full swing yet again. This represents the second year that Holley has decided to throw the LS (and LT)-centric event for us west coasters right here in Sin City. For us, the festivities kicked off yesterday on the LSX Magazine Cruise to Hoover Dam. We experienced our fair share of setbacks on our trip but we learned a lot and will bring it back next year bigger and better than ever.

Alas, the sun rose on another day of LS-packed action and we were right there to soak it up and report it back to you. If you couldn’t make it out, you missed out on a lot of fun but we’ll do our best to make you feel like part of the action. With such a multifaceted event, we did our best to cover every inch of the event but rather than break the action down for you event by event, we thought we’d bring you some of the highlights.

Cinco De Mayo Tire De Fry’O

The Hoonigan crew was back at it again hosting multiple concurrent events. The first of which was a live session from a set right here at LS Fest West. While we were on the scene, the crew played a game called “Circle Jerk.” The point of which is to knock down the most cones possible while drifting in a circle. While it sounds easy, the execution was considerably less so.

The two competitors were amateur drifters but still struggled to knock all of the cones down, one of which was perilously close to the cement barrier. After several attempts, a BMW tagged the cone pinning it between the vehicle and barrier. All in all, it was pretty entertaining and the Hoongian guys were on hand the whole time entertaining the crowd with their iconic antics.

Later in the day, the crew, and cars from every venue of the event, headed to the autocross course to participate in the burnout contest, oddly named Cinco De Mayo Tire De Fry’O (even though it was held today, the fourth). The name is a carry over from last year, but still. But regardless of its name, we’re always down for a good burnout contest.

After introducing the contestants, which ranged from several Ultra 4 buggies to our favorite LS-powered Mazda pickup truck piloted by Jeff Kay, the guys got to work. We were told Cleetus McFarland was supposed to compete as well, but he was a no-show for the event. Regardless, the event kicked off in style as Jeff Kay mercilessly punished the tires on the rear of his Mazda B2000, which is powered by a 4.8-liter twin turbo V8 that now puts down 947 rwhp (more on that in an upcoming article).

His run was a real crowd pleaser but it was still early in the event. With the bar set, several of the Ultra 4 vehicles took to the course and really gave us a good show. The MBRP/Nitto buggy was an absolute savage and showed everyone how a four-wheel burnout is done, coming perilously close to not only taking out a cameraman but yours truly, too. We all know that an element of danger is an important part of any good burnout.

Josh Korsower from Three Pedals put on a great show as usual in their 1989 Pontiac Safari, defending his burnout title earned back east at LS Fest proper. However, the big news was defending LS Fest West Cinco De Fry’O champion Max Gould and his 1970 Nova. Last year, Gould pulled off the win having driven the car for the very first time on the burnout pad after thrashing to get the car finished completing the build at 1 a.m. the night before.

And though we were anticipating that things would go well for Gould, after all, he had a brand new big-cube LS engine, just seconds into his run the engine grenaded scattering pieces of the engine all over the track. Several connecting rod could be seen strewn across the parking lot, along with a wrist pin or two. We hate to see any build go down like that and hope to see Gould back up and running soon.

It’s never a good sign when smoke is coming from in front of the rear tires. This is the exact moment Max Gould’s LS let go.

The car spit out a rod in the process.

After the ensuing carnage, the burnout space was pretty well oiled down and Holley thought it was best to call the competition quits but Josh of Vague Industries insisted that he make a run since he had made the trip out from Delaware. You may recognize his LS-swapped Toyota Hilux that he built on a 6-month road trip from just about any LS-centric channel on YouTube. After cleaning up the mess a bit, Josh took to the course and spun a couple of doughnuts before his Toyota suffered a similar fate to Max Gould’s Nova—though the truck didn’t scatter parts all over the track.

At the end of it all, the contest was decided by the loudest yelling from the crowd which went to a step side Silverado. And we mean loudest yelling as it clearly wasn’t the actual winner. In our opinion, those honors clearly go to the driver of the Ultra 4 buggy that almost killed us.

Show n’ Shine

The shown n’ shine turned up some amazing looking LS-powered rides. Some that started that way and just as many that didn’t. One of our favorites was Mike Cross’ ’65 Chevelle four-door wagon. With four Kirky seats, some of the most trick cage work we’ve ever seen via Cage Works, and a turbo LS1, this Chevelle is one of the coolest builds we’ve seen in a while.

Cross tells us that, other than the cage work, the entire build took place in his one-car garage at his apartment building. We’ll have more details on the car in a coming feature, but for now, bask in the glory that is a four-door wagon with four Kirky seats. Several fourth-gens and a couple C5 and C6 Corvettes rounded out some of the other eye candy but we’ll leave it up to you to check out our gallery for more glossy—and not so glossy—sheet metal.

Drag Racing

Drag racing was lightly attended for the most part but still plenty of excitement was on tap. With temperatures hovering in the high 80s, however, the DA at the track soared well into the 4,000 feet range.

Initial qualifying rounds of LS True Street, LS Rumble, Late Model Heads Up, LS Truck, and Grand Champion kicked off starting at 4 p.m. after test n’ tune for all classes which lasted all morning into the late afternoon. The competition will continue tomorrow morning starting with LS true Street.

The most heavily attended drag class was the Grand Champion class which saw a heavy turn out. Several breakages and oil downs pushed the initial runs well into the evening and ended several competitor’s runs at Grand Champion. Drag testing for the class will continue tomorrow evening.

Desert Launch

One of the highlights for us is the fact that LS Fest West hosts a one-of-a-kind event in the form of LS-powered offload action. We headed over to “Dirt Town” to check out the action and watched as Ultra 4s and trophy trucks hucked themselves off of large features—and boy did we get what we bargained for.

The off-road boys really brought it tossing their rides off of huge hits with reckless abandon. Check out some of the shot we snagged of some of the high-flying action above.

Autocross

The autocross event at the second annual LS Fest West presented by Holley has been a wild one. The series is so successful, in fact, that it’s one of the show’s largest events the entire weekend. Today featured the Super Chevy High Noon Shootout, which was a final autocross event for the fastest time laid down between eight final contenders. Before we recap that, let’s take a look at some of the racers in this weekend’s autocross series.

This year’s autocross event had a pleasant mix of both new and older LS-powered cars, along with an array of LT-powered rides too, such as sixth-generation Camaro SS and ZL1 models. A plethora of C5, C6 and C7 ‘Vettes found their way around the cones as well this year, with many of them dominating the competition.

Speedway Motors out of Lincoln, Nebraska, brought out a pair of its in-house built LS-powered cars. The first of which is the Nebraska born-and-bred 1965 Nova, driven by a new driver, Ken Thwaits. The team’s other ride was a sleek built 1970 Camaro, which was driven by Robby Unser, who was the 2017 Goodguys autocrosser of the year. Of course, its ’70 Camaro is LS-powered as well, and both cars feature Holley EFI components under its hoods.

Of course, Cleetus McFarland was on the scene with his twin turbo LS-powered ‘Vette Cart. Cleetus plans to enter Leroy The Savage into virtually every event possible, which will include the autocross event naturally. We’ll keep an eye on this novice contender for you folks, but make sure to say hi to him in the pits if you see him.

Jake Rozelle and his unmistakeable Electron Blue ’03 C5 Z06 Corvette were on the spot this year. Jake’s C5 Z06 features a Holley equipped 7.0-liter LS7 V8 engine with a host of suspension goodies, paired with Forgeline wheels and Wilwood disc brakes on all four corners.

Robby was able to wheel Speedway Motors’ Camaro to the top 8 for the High Noon Shootout but ultimately finished in third place, with the JDP Motorsports C7 Z06 Corvette taking first place with a blistering 33.802 second pass.

Keep an eye out tomorrow (Saturday) bright and early for the rest of the autocross series this weekend. The novice series starts at 9:00 A.M. sharp and runs through until noon, followed by the intermediate series beginning at 1:00 P.M.

Day 2

Day 2 is when things really heat up as all of the racing action heads toward eliminations. Drifting also kicks off on Saturday and culminates with a winner later that night. And while today saw a considerable turnout, we expect an even larger crowd tomorrow as we head into the weekend. Stay tuned as we bring you some of our favorite LS swaps of the event and look for features on some of our favorite rides coming soon.

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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