LS Fest is a celebration of horsepower that attracts a wide variety of LS-powered vehicles. The drag racing portion of LS Fest is massive, and there are some really cool vehicles that make the journey to Beech Bend Raceway. We scoured the pits at LS Fest and found 10 really cool rides that caught our attention. Make sure to check out the photo gallery where you’ll find plenty more pictures of these neat vehicles.
Dan Mason’s 2004 Dodge Ram
Dan Mason’s 2004 Dodge Ram isn’t a subtle vehicle thanks to its bright paint, large size, and impressive performance. The truck is powered by an LSA-based engine that runs on E-85 and is fed a lot of air thanks to a pair of Pulsar turbos. Mason, who is a disabled veteran, needed a project to give him something to do, and the truck has filled that need perfectly.
“I bought the truck brand new and drove it for a few years. I tried to modify the 4.7-liter engine that was in the truck, but that really didn’t work out. I got the bug seven years ago to swap something into it and an LS engine seemed like a good idea. A lot of people told me I couldn’t do it, but I did it anyway. I originally swapped a stock LQ4 into the truck and things just progressed into what you see now. It makes well over 1,000 horsepower and runs deep in the nine-second zone,” Mason says.
Trisha Cassidy’s 1972 Chevrolet Vega
You don’t see a lot of early model Chevrolet Vegas at the drag strip these days, let alone many that have been LS swapped. Trisha Cassidy brought her immaculate 1972 Vega to LS Fest so she could enjoy the event. The car is powered by a 6.0-liter engine that looks like it was installed by the factory when the car was built. Trisha not only races her Vega on a regular basis, but she also drives it to the track too.
“I wanted to build a Vega because I’ve always loved the styling of the car. When I started going to the track with my fiancé who’s raced his entire life, I pointed out the cars I liked, and most of them were first-generation Vegas. We looked at a lot of different cars and found this one in Ohio. I wanted a car that wasn’t all cut up. The firewall, floors, and interior are as close to original as you can get,” Trisha says.
Chris Hanifan’s 1976 Holden One Ton
Chris Hanifan is a drag racing legend in his home country of Australia, he’s one of the founders of Top Doorslammer, the Australian version of Pro Mod. Hanifan has been on fire at over 200 mph driving a Pro Mod, yet, he still has the desire to make licks at the track. The 1976 Holden One Ton Hanifan brought to LS Fest is a true Australian import that he built himself and drives on the street.
“The overall build of this Holden is pretty simple. I used a junkyard 5.3-liter LS with over 176,000 miles on it for the engine, it still uses the stock bottom end that came in it from the factory. To help the engine breathe better, I added a set of six-liter truck heads. For boost, I decided to use a Precision turbo. I pretty much built everything you see on this Holden myself,” Hanifan says.
Aaron Turk’s 2012 Subaru WRX
You’ll find plenty of interesting engine-swapped vehicles at LS Fest, but Aaron Turk’s 2012 Subaru WRX could be one of the most unique you’re going to see. Turk found a way to stuff a 6.0-liter LS engine into the Subaru, along with a TH400 transmission. A Vortech V2 supercharger was added by Turk to give the WRX some extra kick. The ladder bar rear suspension under the Subaru was fabricated and installed by Turk at his home shop.
“I was trying to make a Subaru reliable with this swap. The engine has been in the car two years and I haven’t had to do head gaskets yet. This took a lot of time because I had to figure everything out myself. Nobody has really done anything like this before, so there’s no reference point at all that shows how to do the swap. The engine build was my favorite part of the entire process, it was fun and not difficult,” Turk explains.
Gary Leneave’s 1979 Camaro
Gary Leneave and his family have been racing for decades. The 1979 Camaro that Leneave owns has seen plenty of your typical small block and big block Chevy engines during its years of racing service. Leneave was tired of seeing the car sit, so he partnered with John McWaters to put an LS-based engine in the Camaro so it could make a return to the drag strip.
“I purchased the car in 1987 and my brother painted it. We just love to run the car and have a good time. My dad won the US Nationals several times and had a lot of records, so racing is just what we love to do. We like coming to the track to be around our friends and meet new people. We’ve got an all-aluminum 427 LS-based engine that will be going into the car for next year,” Leneave states.
Nick Enberg’s 1964 Chevelle SS
Nick Enberg’s 1964 Chevelle SS could easily win just about any car show it enters, but don’t let that pretty smile fool you, this classic Chevy is a real beast. Under the hood, you’ll find a 370 cubic-inch LS engine with a fully forged rotating assembly and Frankenstein Engineering Dynamics cylinder heads. One Guys Garage built the turbo system that uses a Forced Inductions 76mm turbo to generate a whole bunch of boost. Enberg was ripping off high eight-second passes all weekend during True Street time trials and eliminations behind the wheel of his Chevelle.
“My dad has a 1964 Chevelle he’s owned since 1980. We used to race the car in a local muscle car series at our home track for a number of years. When I turned 18, he put me in his car and that got me hooked. I had a 1986 Camaro that I planned to race, but I found this car down in Alabama and decided to build it instead. I wanted to go the LS and turbo route with this car since you can make so much power with the combination. It’s still a full streetcar and my favorite part about racing is pushing myself to go quicker and do more with what I have,” Enberg explains.
Cold Rist’s 2004 Impala
People’s taste in vehicles can vary widely based on a lot of factors. Colt Rist has a soft spot for the 2000s-era Chevrolet Impala thanks to driving his family’s 2004 Impala growing up. The problem is, those vehicles only came from the factory in a front-wheel-drive configuration, so they weren’t exactly built for performance.
Rist originally planned on building his family’s Impala into a high-performance machine. The Ohio winters were very hard on the Impala and caused way too much rust damage, so Rist needed a new vehicle to build. A 2004 Indianapolis Edition Impala SS was sourced and Rist got to work building his dream car.
“I built pretty much everything on this car myself at home. The rear-wheel-drive conversion was completed using the 10-bolt reared out of a 1980 Camaro and I built the 4-link suspension. The car uses a set of coilover shocks in the rear. I went through the stock bottom end 5.3-liter engine myself, swapped in a Texas Speed cam, added the sheet metal intake, and designed the fuel system,” Rist says.
Josh Craig’s 1958 VW Beetle
A 1958 VW Beetle is probably one of the last vehicles you’d expect to see at LS Fest, and that’s partly why Josh Craig built this car. Craig’s VW packs plenty of punch thanks to the supercharged 5.7-liter engine that now lives in the front of the car. The VW uses the front clip from an S10 that’s mated to a tube chassis in the rear. Mathew Meyers, a friend of Crag’s, has been building wild hybrid vehicles like this VW for years and helped assemble the car.
“I got into cars and racing with my dad, I just like the atmosphere of the hobby. My first car was a VW and I’ve always liked them. In 1993, I saw a but similar to this build that was a stunning show car, and that always stuck in my head as something I wanted to do. I just built this car to be more of a race car and less of a show car. I’ve been able to run a 10.80 at 137 MPH with this build and the car is an absolute blast to drive. People love it and I get lots of thumbs up anytime I drive it around,” Craig says.
Anthony Ray Morris’ 1955 Chevy 210
The 1955 Chevy 210 is a classic vehicle that just looks awesome in race car form. Anthony Ray Morris took his 210 and added a simple 6.0-liter LS combination to make it a killer bracket racing machine. The car still uses its original leaf springs, but Morris added a set of Caltracs from Calvert Racing so it could have plenty of traction.
“I grew up with eight brothers who are all gearheads. I didn’t want to really do anything else when it comes to hobbies, the car culture has been a family thing for us since I can remember. We’ve got family members that have won the US Nationals. I put an LS in this car because of the LS Fest event. My brother has won this event before, and I wanted to be a part of the action with my family,” Morris states.
James Aoki’s 1989 Mustang
It’s really impossible to predict what you’ll see at LS Fest each year. There are always going to be tons of late-model GM products all over the grounds at Beech Bend Raceway Park, but there are going to be some things you’d never expect to see, like James Aoki’s all-wheel-drive Foxbody Mustang. This is far from your average LS-swapped Mustang, and it was built mostly with salvage yard parts.
Aoki’s 1989 Mustang is powered by a Gen III 5.3-liter iron block LS that’s filled with a Gen IV rotating assembly. The Mustang’s engine is topped off with a set of truck heads, an LG Motorsports camshaft, and an LS1 intake. Aoki built the turbo kit himself to work with a VS Racing turbo. To make the Mustang all-wheel-drive, Aoki added a Trailblazer front differential, S10 axles and brakes, WRX front coilers, and Ford Taurus steering knuckles.
“I built this car because it had never been done before and it stands out from every other LS-powered Mustang. It took about four months in the garage to build, and a lot of trips to the junkyard to get all of the parts needed to finish it. I still street drive it a lot and it’s actually pretty nice to drive. The car has been 9.09 and with a little more fine-tuning should run consistent eight-second passes no problem,” Aoki says.