Holley LS Fest 2014 – Friday

IMG_7430The fifth annual Holley LS Fest kicked off today at Beech Bend Raceway in bucolic Bowling Green, Kentucky, marking the start of three full days of late-model GM fun. Included in the weekend’s scheduled activities are a car show, autocross competition, drifting, a dyno challenge, and of course drag racing.

Another traditional bit of fun at LS Fest is the engine swap challenge, where two teams compete to see who can pull a traditional small block and replace it with an LS powerplant, then successfully complete a street drive quickest. That’s on the slate for tomorrow, though: Today’s festivities center around the dragstrip and autocross/drift course.

One of the things we’re looking for this weekend is third-gen F-bodies with LS power. We have an upcoming article scheduled highlighting this swap, and we’ve found quite a few nice ones so far.

IMG_7292Pretty much the first thing we came across was Muscle Rods‘ LS2-swapped Trans Am. Backed by a T-56 manual, the car serves as a testbed and demonstrator for their swap components.

IMG_7286Also noteworthy are their flat-collector headers that preserve ground clearance and allow 2-inch primaries.

IMG_7428Our friends at Magnuson also had a very nicely executed LS-swapped (and supercharged, of course) Firebird as part of their manufacturers’ midway display. The Hawks Formula Stormtrooper is a heck of an interesting build, centered around an LS7 topped with a Magnuson TVS 2300 blower producing 705 horsepower and 685 pound-feet to the rear wheels.

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IMG_7408Cone Chaos

Over on the Beech Bend oval track,  a bevy of LS-powered autocross cars are taking on a challenging course laid out figure-eight style. 2013 LS Fest Grand Champion Danny Popp is on hand to offer up tips for autocross competitors – here’s a look at one of his runs:

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Anybody can knock a cone over - it takes real commitment to wedge one so far underneath the car that it melts on the collector and you need a jack to remove it!

Anybody can knock a cone over – it takes real commitment to wedge one so far underneath the car that it melts on the collector and you need a jack to remove it!

IMG_7326Another highlight of the autocross venue are Crusher and Crusher II, a matched pair of Chevys owned by Dave and Karen Leisinger. Both cars feature Warren Johnson-built LS power, and they’re both full of interesting details for their all-out Autocross mission.

Inside the Corvette's wheels, metal fan blades actively cool the brake rotors...

Of course, all forms of motorsports come with an element of risk - this 'Bandit' Trans Am got a little smokey on the autocross course, but thanks to a very rapid response from the corner workers, the damage was only cosmetic.

Of course, all forms of motorsports come with an element of risk – this ‘Bandit’ Trans Am got a little smokey on the autocross course, but thanks to a very rapid response from the corner workers, the damage was only cosmetic.

Swaps Galore

A big part of the fun here at LS Fest is seeing the broad range of vehicles that have found their true destiny with LS power under the hood. Last year’s standouts were a pair of Corvairs converted to a front engine layout, and this year there are several interesting projects that just might top them.

Case in point: This 1958 Suburban with not just LS power, but turbo LS power…

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Speaking of turbos, this rat rod had not one, but two…

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One of the potential projects we’ve thought about a lot is a LS swap into a C3 Corvette – the later “plastic bumper” cars are inexpensive and unloved, but with a little imagination they can become something pretty cool:

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On the Road

Another attraction this year is the Countryside Cruise, a nice break and a chance to enjoy some off-track time during the weekend. It also encompassed a digital scavenger hunt, worth five points towards the total score of Grand Champion competitors, and offering a cool $500 to the driver/photographer team that captured the most photos of the specified items.

Cruise participants line up on the NCM Motorsports Park's 'black lake' before taking their parade lap.

Cruise participants line up on the NCM Motorsports Park’s ‘black lake’ before taking their parade lap.

But for many of the participants, the highlight of the Cruise was the chance to be among the first to turn a wheel on the newly-completed National Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park road course.

After leaving pit lane, the first right-hand turns take you through the “Corvette Corners.” These turns simulate the Porsche Curves at Le Mans where the course leaves public roads and transitions onto the dedicated racing surface. This section of the track was suggested by Corvette Racing as a way to help the team prepare for the French endurance circuit, which is composed partially of public roads and therefore not available for testing prior to the annual race.

The other significant feature of the track is downhill-entry carousel they’re calling “The Sinkhole.” We’ll leave you to find that one in the video for yourself, and just say it’s a stomach-drop at a leisurely pace in a rented VW Tiguan – we can’t imagine how much bravery it will take to attack that corner at full race pace.

Qualifying Round One

Let’s not forget that the heads-up racing competitors also got their first qualifying hit late Friday. With one round in the books, Kevin Rounsavall leads the 13-car Real Street field with the only seven in the bunch, running 7.994 at 173.74 MPH.

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With four cars in the eighth-mile Drag Radial field so far, LS legend Mark Carlyle had the best first pass with a 5.671 at 160.86 MPH.

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And in All Motor, Don Baskin led Jud Massingill and Robert Strong, clocking 8.467 at 158.56.

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That’s it for today – keep lsxmag.com bookmarked for updates throughout the weekend!

About the author

Paul Huizenga

After some close calls on the street in his late teens and early twenties, Paul Huizenga discovered organized drag racing and never looked back, becoming a SFI-Certified tech inspector and avid bracket racer. Formerly the editor of OverRev and Race Pages magazines, Huizenga set out on his own in 2009 to become a freelance writer and editor.
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