What an action-packed weekend we had at Holley‘s LS Fest West 2023. Neither high winds nor heat would stop thousands of spectators and participants from descending upon Las Vegas Motor Speedway to attend what was the largest LS Fest West ever.
According to our contacts at Holley, over 1,600 people registered to participate in drag racing, autocross, drifting, and the car show. Additionally, Sac Speed Shop hosted the burnout pit packed with spectators all weekend to cheer on all the tire-melting cars and trucks.
We hosted the Valley Of Fire Cruise on Thursday, April 27th, to kick things off. This is the fifth year of the cruise sponsored by LSX Magazine, and once again, there was a good turnout of people that joined us for the beautiful drive through the Nevada state park. There were approximately 25 vehicles ranging from street cars to show cars, and even several autocross and Grand Champion competitors came along in their competition cars. The weather on Thursday was perfect, and we enjoyed a fantastic drive out to and through the Valley of Fire state park before stopping at the Seven Sisters rock formation to get some great photos of the vehicles at sunset. Thankfully, this year, no drivers were pulled over or kicked out of the park for any shenanigans.
Hitting The Ground Running
On the morning of day one, we were greeted with high winds that exceeded 30 mph at times. Although this caused several vendors to delay setting up their canopies and booths, the winds did not hinder the action. Before the gates opened to spectators, competitors were lined up to get their rides through tech.
With the sounds of engines being warmed up in the pits and the smell of race fuel in the air, it wasn’t long before things got underway, and the sold-out Grand Champion and Autocross classes began making runs on the two courses to try and set a leading lap time early in the competition.
Throughout the day, the line to get into the show never seemed to get shorter. The West event in Las Vegas has enjoyed continued growth in spectator and participant count to the point that it’s fast approaching the numbers we typically see at LS Fest East in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Although the Las Vegas Motor Speedway property is most likely the largest of the three LS Fest events in terms of acreage, the venue was overflowing with LS- and LT-powered cars, trucks, vans, and even an airplane.
Putting The Rubber Down
Drag racing qualifying and testing sessions were in full swing by mid-morning. Being in the desert, hot temperatures are expected, and although we did see temps in the 90s over the weekend, there were still a lot of vehicles making fast passes during the hottest parts of each day. We saw stick-shift cars making wheels-up launches and many cars putting down single-digit quarter-mile times.
Speaking of heat, the hottest place on the property had to be the burnout pit. Since 2018, Sac Speed Shop has been hosting this fan-favorite event. If you’ve never attended LS Fest West and witnessed the burnout pit for yourself, picture four walls made of concrete traffic barriers, stadium bleacher seating, a DJ with turn tables playing music, the MC on a microphone wearing a Superman cape, and approximately 30 of the wildest LS-swapped cars and trucks you’ve ever seen.
There are vehicles you would expect to see in the car show and vehicles that are built to do only one thing: turn tires into thick billowing smoke clouds. Every vehicle that enters the pit spends several minutes running on the rev limiter, sliding, spinning, and shredding tires to the crowd’s roaring cheers.
If you prefer to play in the dirt, LS Fest West has something for you too. Presented by Gravel Kings and Off Road Xtreme, the Dirt Destruction event saw an excellent turnout of wicked pre-runners, trophy trucks, and buggies tearing up the dirt course while catching big air on the jumps. The Isenhouer Brothers brought out their trucks featuring eight into-one headers that you need to hear in person to have an idea of how wild they sound. Additionally, we had a special treat this year as Jim York jumped his nitrous-assisted limo over 100 feet on the course’s big double.
The drift competition saw a stacked field of drivers battle in door-to-door tandem action. In addition to several Corvettes, there were 350Zs, 240s, BMWs, and other makes of cars, all featuring LS power. The drift cars fit perfectly in Vegas; most are wrapped in bright colors with wild designs, and some even have neon lights. All the drivers put on a fantastic show for the crowd displaying incredible car control while creating huge clouds of smoke.
We were lucky enough to snag a few minutes with professional driver Dirk Stratton and get some insights into what it takes to compete at a high level in drifting. We also got the details on his C6 Corvette powered by a Lingenfelter Performance Engineering Eliminator LS engine. Look for that interview on our Power and Performance YouTube Channel soon.
We can’t say enough good things about how well Holley has handled the increasing growth of the LS Fest events. Even with record numbers of participants, delays were kept to a minimum. LS Fest West has a unique vibe being in Sin City with all of the lights, the fighter planes flying overhead from Nellis Air Force Base, and the excellent facility at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
This year’s West experience was fantastic, and luckily we don’t have to wait long for our next LS Fest fix, as the Texas event is coming up on May 19th and 20th. Stay tuned for upcoming car features from LS Fest West 2023 on LSX Mag, and check out our Power and Performance YouTube channel for video coverage.