2017 Holley LS Fest: Day Two Sees Record-Breaking Numbers

Well, it’s official. Yesterday we titled our first day of full coverage of Holley LS Fest 2017 “2017 Holley LS Fest: Day One Of The Biggest LS Event Of All Timeand today that title turned out to be nearly prophetic. Today’s event was so well attended that it officially became the largest LS gathering of its type and simultaneously the largest event Beech Bend Raceway has ever hosted.

Naturally, this meant every event was bigger and better. Holley tells us that pre-registration drag racing participation is up 60 percent and it showed in the massive field of competitors. That wasn’t the only place it showed either. Some of the most gorgeous LS-powered sheet metal we’ve ever laid eyes on turned up in droves as well. In fact, we had a hard time picking out our favorites for full features—but we managed some how.

This stunning third-gen was drawing a constant crowd at the Show n' Shine today.

Beech Bend was packed all day with LS fans young and old and just about every sect of LS worship was represented—including the drifters, who put on a fantastic show to a packed house. The drag racing heated up with the COPO Battle at the Green heading into eliminations. Over on the autocross house, things were narrowed down to the top 5, and Holley hosted one of the best burnout competitions that we’ve seen in a while. Oh, and the LSX Magazine Stock Bottom End Shootout brought out some pretty awesome builds that you won’t want to miss.


Perhaps the biggest news here is that Mike DuSold had some serious problems with his typically ultra-competitive first-gen Camaro. A bad oxygen sensor set them back in the running yesterday, after which they discovered some problems with the wiring. After fixing both issues, they were back in business. Or at least they were until someone accidentally confused the diesel fuel and race fuel canisters.

DuSold getting ready to make a run after sorting through a myriad of problems that put an early end to his day.

DuSold’s car obviously wasn’t very happy after this and the entire system had to be drained and flushed, after which DuSold wasn’t exactly in the best frame of mind and tagged a few cones during competition that would cost him his shot at the top five for the day. A rare miss for team DuSold but stuff happens even to the best of us.

With DuSold out, the competition was hotly contested by perennial favorite Danny Popp in his C5 Corvette and nipping at his heals was Rich Wilhoff in his C6 Corvette. When all was said and done, the field was culled to just the top 5 contestants comprised of Rich Wilhoff, Danny Popp, Sam Strano, Larry Woo, and Jack Smith.

Left: Wilhoff pitches his C6 into the courses first left-hander on his way to a sub-31 second lap. Center: Larry Woo pulls the only none Corvette top 5 competitor onto the course. Right: Wihoff waits behind Sam Strano for his shot at glory.

With the top 5 set, it was time to find out who the fastest really is. Each of the top 5 were told they would have three laps and that their times would be combined for an overall total. The lowest time would obviously be crowned the winner.

Danny Popp was consistently fast all day. All of his lap times came in under 31 seconds, faster than almost every other competitor.

The battle was fierce with all of Danny Popp’s laps coming in under 31 seconds. A scorching time for the course. And while the others put up a great fight, no one could keep pace. That is, except for Rich Wilhoff, who managed to best Popp for the overall win. However, Wilhoff did so by the slimmest of margins. Popp turned in a total time of 92.518 while Wihoff laid down a blistering 92.327, meaning that the difference between first place and first loser was a minuscule .191 second. A fitting ending to a fierce battle. That wraps up autocross for another year as it will be supplanted tomorrow by the 3S challenge.

Drag Racing

At the drag strip, Lingenfelter COPO Battle On The Green was the big deal as eliminations ran start to finish. After yesterday’s qualifying, the round one pairings were as follows: Daren Poole-Adams had a bye, Brian Palcisko vs. Robin Lawrence, Glenn Pushis vs. Brian Massingill, Jim McLeod vs. Al Corda, and Emily Volkman vs. Donny Bray. Brian Palcisko emerged victorious against Uncle Robin in the 2017 COPO, going 8.80 on his 8.995 second dial-in. The blown 350ci LSX combo would square off against Glenn Pushis in the sixth-gen, who defeated the SAM Tech ‘15 COPO who red-lit. Jim McLeod took down Al Corda, going 9.51 on his 9.50 dial-in. Corda, Lawrence and Massingill all broke out. Last, but not least, Emily Volkman took him the win with a 9.21 on her 9.18 dial-in as Bray red-lit. Palcisko then took round two, as did Volkman, and McLeod got a bye. In the third round, McLeod red-lit against Volkman who took the eventual win against Palcisko. Volkman ran 9.200 against her 9.17 dial-in while Palcisko broke out in the final round.

As nightfall broke, COPO winner Emily Volkman went 9.20 at 147 mph on her 9.17 dial-in to defeat Brian Palcisko.

Left to right, three of Emily's victims included: Donny Bray (who red-lit in round one), Jim McLeod (red-lit in round three), and Brian Palcisko (8.92 on 8.80 dial-in in the finals).

In Frankenstein Late Model, four cars qualified with single digit times. Josh Elam leads the way in his 2009 Corvette. The beastly C6 ran 8.86 at 163 mph. Rodney Booth’s boosted C7 is quite a bit behind him at 9.292 at 151 mph. Lester Miller, part of the Arkansas contingent at the event, clicked off a 9.595 at 144 mph in his 2010 Camaro. Tyler Gibson rounds out the crew in his C7, going 9.919 at 139 mph.

Aside from the addition of Haley Rounsavall to the qualifying sheet, not much has changed from yesterday in Scoggin-Dickey Chevrolet Performance Stock. Haley placed second with a 10.143 at 130 mph run in her fifth-gen, so she’ll square off against Keith Vaughn in the morning in his ‘96 Camaro. Kevin Lumsden in his Hugger Orange fourth-gen will face Scotty Duncan in the third-gen Camaro. Front-runner Jessie Wilson has a bye run.

In Wiseco Real Street, Bill Trovato and Camren Massengale made moves and slid to third and fourth spot. Trovato’s ‘13 Camaro went 4.83 at 144 mph and will face Roger Allen’s ‘00 Camaro. Meanwhile, Massengale’s C5 was hot on his heels at 4.853 at 149 mph. Camren faces Isaac Reed’s ‘98 Camaro. Jessie Coulter remained on top and will have a bye run, assuming he fixes his ‘91 Camaro overnight – an issue which prevented him from making the call on the final run of the day. Nicholas McGrath in the turbocharged Fox-body remains in second thanks to his 4.732 at 152 mph. He faces Cliff Leblanc in the ‘99 Trans Am. Fran Schatz slid down the ladder and will face off against Danny Nicely in the battle of red Corvettes. Ron Belcher will square off against Adam Preston, a battle of RPM supported cars both tickling the 5 second mark. Though 1.3 seconds might seem like a wide spread (from fastest to slowest), it is actually a pretty tight field when you consider this is among eleven cars.

Camren Massengale (left) and Bill Trovato (right) climbed their way up the ladder today, taking the Third and Fourth spot. Both are typical nitrous cars, fast out of the hole and hoping that they put some distance on the two turbo cars ahead of them. Half of the 11-car field is running below 5.0 in the 1/8-mile.

Last, but not least, we have Nitro Drag Radial, which had a better second day. This is a whopping thirty car field that runs 4.58 at 168 mph at its fastest (Andy Essary). Anthony Manna, a fellow Illinois native and perennial contender, is just behind him – running 4.87 at 159 mph. Mann faces Josh Shumway tomorrow while Essary gets a bye. Jeff Speer’s ‘92 Mustang is one of at least three Fox-bodies in the class and qualified with a 4.953 at 145 mph. Speer faces Greg Hunt in the ‘74 Buick Apollo. John Schaeffer’s ‘99 Camaro had an issue on the starting line, still working out the bugs, but will face Scottier Brown’s ‘95 Camaro. John Smith’s LSXperts C5 will line up against Chuck Stefanskai, Ryan Magee against Paul Falcon and Chris Goode against Derrick Kelly.

A brand-new combo for Essary (left) along with battling the track has proven challenging, but he managed to take top qualifier in the 13-car Drag Radial field. Charlie Hill (right) pilots the LSXperts C5, and managed to put together a couple of good runs today after rebounding from yesterday's transmission issues.

SAM Tech Street King and Three Pedals Rumble each drew 55 and 75 LS powered vehicles respectively. With car count like this, it is easy to see why this is not only the biggest LS Fest ever, but the biggest event to invade Beech Bend Raceway Park.

Tina Pierce of Street Outlaws fame was running mid-8s in her turbocharged ’08 Colorado in the Street King class, with a best of 8.39.

Cam Motion True Street had 95 entrants, twelve of which hit single digits. But, as they say, it’s not enough that you do it once. You have to do it three times, back to back. Chris Bishir of Osslam, IN walked the walk in his LPE turbo S10 – with an average of 8.683 seconds to take the overall title. Fellow Indianaian Justin May is a perennial contender in his third-gen Firebird, which has not been short on power since switching to a Precision 94mm turbo. He had trouble getting down the track all weekend, and wound up with a 9.041 average, good enough for runner-up. Sean Moore was the 9-second winner (9.221), while Anthony Britton took the 10-second title (10.026), Harv Owen took the 11-second title (11.037), Adam Valentine won 12-second honors (12.008), Jason Stephensen was awarded 13-second champ (13.024), David Stacy and Rick Glaze took 14- and 15-second honors.

Chris Bishir (left) in the S10 and Justin May (right) in the Firebird are not only both from Indiana, but frequent winners of True Street with 8-second turbo combos.

Sean Moore (left) was the 9-second winner, while Gary Cropp's split bumper Camaro also proved capable of 9-second times. In its birthplace, Corvettes had a good showing including the 10-second C6 of Terry Frost and C5 of Richard Brooks.

LSX Magazine Stock Bottom End Dyno Challenge

Today was the day that we finally found out who could make the most power on a stock bottom end LS engine and we weren’t disappointed. While we’ll have a more thorough story for you on the preceding coming, we’ll get right down to the nitty gritty.

We couldn't believe how much power this stock bottom end was putting out.

In our power adder class, top rights—and a $500 Holley gift certificate—went to Josh Baker in his 1985 Monte Carlo. The car has a junkyard-sourced 5.3 in it that has never even had the heads on it removed. It is stuffed with a cam geared toward naturally aspirated builds and uses a Precision 7675 turbo to produce an astounding 872 horsepower. That was enough to take home first place—all through a blow-through 850 carburetor. Baker says the car should easily make 900 at the wheel, but he’s running out of fuel from the carb. Regardless, this is one insane build we’ll be bringing you more of in the future.

Gary's first-gen Camaro is hands-down one of the most unique vehicles we've ever seen. Do you know what's better than one LS7? Two of them.

In our naturally aspirated class, the win was claimed by Gary Higginbotham with his twin-engine—yes, you read that right— ’69 Camaro. The first-gen F-body has been stuffed with not one, but two heads/cam LS7s. Each engine is equipped with nitrous but it wasn’t used to produce a class-winning 772 horsepower. The car drew quite the crowd and we’ll be brining you a full feature on the car in the near future. For now, you’ll have to be happy with the pictures we grabbed on the dyno.

LS Bolt On Challenge

One of our favorite competitions of LS Fest is the LS Swap Challenge. However, this year things have changed. Holley decided to change up the event in order to keep the participants sharp and threw us a curve ball this year. For 2017, two teams went head to head bolting on aftermarket parts to make the most power on an LS engine rather than swapping them into a vehicle as quickly as possible.

The Big3Racing team made quick work of the 6-liter build and had it stripped down, the cam in, and the heads on in no time.

Both teams provided a vehicle that was then fit with a bone stock iron-block 6.0L before the event commenced. Team Big3Racing brought an S10 with them while their opponents chose a more unconventional vehicle—a Jeep Wrangler. With each vehicle up and running on the engines, they were then pulled into the tent and the timer was started.

Tables of aftermarket products for the two teams to choose from were on hand helping to make quick work of the engine builds.

Each team was given a plethora of Holley parts to choose from to build their engine as strong as possible, as well as some from other vendors. AFR provided a set of their 230cc or 250cc cathedral port heads and Brian Tooley Racing provided six different grinds of camshaft for each team to choose from. The selection of parts would likely be the deciding factor in overall power production, and thus the winner.

Team Jeep on the other hand took their time and was methodical with the build. While there is a time limit, in this case, the first to finish isn't necessarily the winner.

Each vehicle was baselined on the dyno before hand and the competition was decided on who could produced the largest percentage power gain when measure from 3,000 rpm to 6,500 rpm and averaged over three pulls. While the math was somewhat complicated, to put it simply the engine that had the largest increase in power, percentage wise, over three pulls was crowned the winner.

With the stage set, the teams got to work. While it paid to be fast, since it would give each team more time to tune their setup, each team had three hours to build their motor, tune it, and get it on the dyno—regardless of who finished first, the power production would be the deciding factor.

The B3R team had their heads on in no time and were ready to move on to the intake and rocker arms.

Right from the jump the Big3Racing team jumped out in front and never looked back. They had their engine striped down to basically a bare block with a rotating assembly in no time. They selected a moderate cam for their build and quickly stabbed it in the motor. After that, they moved their attention to the heads. From the get go, the team of three had an efficient way of preassembling parts before they were needed.

One of the only hiccups in their build was that the MSD Atomic Air Force intake wouldn’t clear their water pump and they had to actually grind down the pump and part of the intake to get it to fit the AFR heads securely. Apart from that one

set back, the build went together smoothly and was up and running in just two hours and 42 minutes.

The only set back on the Big3Racing team was the interference of the water pump with the intake manifold. The team made quick work of the problem with a little impromptu grinding.

Over on team Jeep, the trio took their time and slow and steady was their pace. The only wrinkle in their plan was the throttle cable bracket that gave them some trouble and the fact that they had no coupler to attach their cold air intake to the new 103mm throttle body. The decision was made to go with out one and the team made it onto the dyno in just under three hours.

Team Jeep took their time but got there all the same and with plenty of time to dial in their combo. They made great power on the dyno but it all came down to the amount of power added.

Once on the dyno, team Big3Racing made somewhat disappointing power, considering the combination, coming in with a best pull of 352 horsepower. However, this was all through a 4L80 transmission and you must remember that it is average percentage of power gained—not just highest horsepower. The truck originally dyno’d in at 260 horsepower, making for a near 100 rwhp gain—not too shabby all things considered.

However, team Jeep ended up winding the rollers to a best of 430 rwhp—more a long the lines of the power we were expecting. The team was stoked to be sure, but after the judges had looked at the data and percentage increase, the win was officially given to the Big3Racing gang.

The B3R team celebrates after being announced the winners of the first ever Bolt-On Power Challenge.

Though it was the first year for the bolt on challenge, we thought it was pretty awesome and look forward to seeing what the teams next year are capable of. The winners not only got to keep all of the performance parts they had installed on their 6-liter engines, they were given a $1,000-dollar Holley gift certificate—no too bad for three hours worth of work.

Burn Out Contest

Though you may remember that Holley hosted its first burnout competition at LS Fest West with the Cinco De Mayo Tire De Fryo, it decided that the east coast could use some tire frying action as well. They rounded up 10 cars that were willing to burn it down to the rims and let them loose on the autocross course.

Holley employee Keith Jesse kept right on pushing until his driver's side tire burst from the strain. He put on a good show for the crowd and was a great measuring stick for the rest of the competition.

Two Holley employees even got in on the action as Keith Jesse in his LS-swapped 1982 Chevrolet Malibu went first in the competition. He was a hard act to follow after roasting the tires until the driver’s side burst.

Cleetus would be proud.

Judging by the way this Camaro was ripping around the track, you would never guess the driver was doing so with a prosthetic leg.

From there, the competition continued to escalate. A Pontiac G8 with a nasty sounding cam and “4 Dale” painter’s taped in the rear window got plenty of applause after whipping around the course for 60 seconds. The Pontiac was followed by a fifth-gen ZL1 who’s driver celebrated the completion of his turn by hoisting his prosthetic leg in the air.

Who says you have to be in the driver's seat to drive? The pilot of this C5 lit them up while riding outside the car.

Even a professional drifter got in on the action, driving his C5 Corvette from outside the vehicle while pumping his fist wildly in the air. But no one could match the Pontiac wagon from the guys over at Three Pedals who threw down one of the craziest burnouts we’ve seen in recent years, burning the tires down to the point that they were throwing sparks off of the exposed belts all while the headers glowed red beneath the car.

Hard to beat a wagon shooting sparks with glowing headers.

Doing a nasty burnout in a wagon is enough to win over a crowd—especially when that wagon has a carrier on top of it. While the competition was fierce, it was made obvious by crowd applause that the wagon had easily won the day.

Anyone willing to roast the tires like this to entertain a crowd is a winner in our book.

On To Day 3

A lot of action went down today but there’s more coming tomorrow as we move to the finals in drag racing. The 3S Challenge also kicks off tomorrow and we will be bringing you all of the award winners. Stay tuned.

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.
Read My Articles

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