When Holley Performance announced it would be hosting an LS Fest event in Texas, it was like Christmas coming in July. We know there’s an abundance of high-caliber LS/LT cars and trucks in the Lone Star State, so we were hopeful that the event would live up to the reputation that LS Fest has created. Held on the infield of Texas Motor Speedway, the event offered non-stop action with something for everyone. Beautiful show cars and trucks lined the main road, and the vendors in the paddock area had plenty of top-tier builds on display in their booths. The auto-cross, drifting, no-prep drag racing, and Grand Champion competitions featured exceptionally well-built cars and trucks too. We came across many high-quality builds and some unique, one-of-a-kind creations. In no particular order, we’re showcasing our top five picks here.
Not Another LS-Swapped Fox Body Mustang
Swapped builds are typically the highlight of any LS Fest, and the first event held in Texas was no different. This beautiful blacked-out 2016 Mustang GT was built not far from Texas Motor Speedway at Jessie’s Performance Inc., located in Fort Worth. LS-swapped Mustangs are not that uncommon these days. However, we usually see older examples like Fox bodies stuffed with our favorite engine.
Jessie Jewart and his team gave this Mustang a complete drivetrain make-over from front to back. It now packs a built 408 cubic inch LS fed by twin 67mm turbos. Power is transferred to the rear via a TR6060 manual transmission taken from a Camaro. To beef up the rearend, Driveshaft Shop axles were installed. A Holley Dominator ECU controls everything, while a Holley dash displays all the vitals and looks right at home in the factory Mustang gauge bezel.
Moving to the exterior, a carbon-fiber hood adds a bit of weight reduction. Although according to Jessie, the car is still a full-weight street car with A/C. WELD wheels are about the only bling found on the Mustang and look great in their black and polished finish. Single bead lock rear wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson drag radials provide the traction needed for this street car. While the owner of the Mustang preferred to remain anonymous, and they don’t have any track times yet, Jessie let us know that the combination made just under 1,200 horsepower at the wheels.
Keeping It In The Family
Trucks are always a staple at LS Fest, and C10s are by far the most popular trucks we see. The 1967-1972 variety was well represented in Texas, and Robert Tucker’s ’69 short-wide bed is a gorgeous example of the level of vehicles found in the car/truck show. Robert tells us that the truck was purchased new by his grandfather in 1969. It has remained in his family ever since, and in 2020 he began the frame-off build you see now.
The motor is a 6.0-liter topped with a Holley intake manifold. Stainless headers and aftermarket valve covers were installed to dress things up a bit. Robert uses a Holley ECU to handle engine management. He installed a 4L60E and a 12-bolt rearend with 3.73 gears to make cruising down the road a breeze.
Robert went with components from Scott’s Hotrods to give the C10 the proper stance, while at the same time significantly improving the handling. The front uses their complete IFS setup with coilovers. The rear also runs coilovers combined with a Scott’s Hotrods four-link setup. Rolling on a set of Monterey custom billet wheels from Raceline, we’d say Robert nailed the look and stance perfectly.
Inside the cab, MTI Acoustics of College Station, Texas, wrapped everything in beautiful tan leather, including the Billet Specialties steering wheel. The color Robert chose for his C10 started as a Chip Foose original, but he made it his own custom color by adding different pearls and metallics.
One of the best-looking and well-built race cars competing in the no-prep drag event belonged to Justin Cavazos. His 2000 Pontiac Trans Am was an eye-catcher next to the Texas Speed & Performance booth. Justin works for TSP, so it only made sense to showcase his T/A sporting many of their products.
Jason Flores at Straightline Performance in Corpus Christi, Texas handled all of the chassis work. The T/A received an 8-point cage with X-bars and front tube work to keep the factory-style front suspension mounting points. While building the chassis, the team at Straightline also converted the rear suspension to ladder bars with adjustable coilovers and set up the new 9-inch rearend. Felix Paint & Body in Corpus Christi, Texas is responsible for the beautiful blue hue.
For some Texas-sized power, Justin started with a stock 6.0-liter block. He used Texas Speed & Performance PRC 237cc cylinder heads with TSP’s billet valve covers. He topped it off with TSP’s own Titan intake manifold. Making the boost is a 92/110 turbo from DS Racing mounted where the radiator was once located. No radiator is utilized since the car now runs on M1 methanol from VP Racing Fuels. The headers and the hot and cold side turbo piping were fabricated by Straightline Performance. Dual 66mm waste gates keep the boost under control. Jason chose Holley EFI for the ECU, 7-inch display, and other EFI components. The transmission is a Powerglide with a 1.69 first gear and a Hughes two-piece converter.
LS Fest Texas was the first race event he’s entered with his newly built T/A. From what we saw, the car is working well and will continue to get better with more testing.
One Week Makeover
Since his shop is located in Fort Worth, it was no surprise that Jessie Jewart of Jessie’s Performance showed up with a fleet of vehicles. Another one of his customer’s rides that we kept gravitating to all weekend was this 1973 split bumper Camaro Z28.
Jessie told us the car is a real Z28 and was first built as a drag car. They took it to LS Fest East last year in that configuration, and after that event, the car’s owner decided he would rather have something more pro-touring than drag-pack. So one week before LS Fest Texas, the Camaro was pulled into Jessie’s shop and completely stripped of everything drag-related, including the subframe.
The Z28 now sports all new Ride Tech coilover suspension front and rear. Ochs Performance built the 388 cubic-inch LS while Jessie’s fabricated all the piping for the twin 80mm Comp turbos. A Jake’s Performance Stage 6 4L80E and Ford 9-inch rearend complete the drivetrain. According to Jessie, the new combo makes 1,000 horsepower before opening the waste gates. A set of ESR wheels complete the pro-touring make-over.
What do you do when you own a C5 Corvette but don’t want to get lost in a sea of Corvettes at autocross events? You do what Anthony Palladino did and cut off and remove all of the parts you need to turn a 1969 Datsun Sport into an autocross anomaly.
Stuffing a C5 drivetrain and suspension under the Datsun was no easy feat. A complete tube chassis was fabricated in his garage to connect the rear cradle to the front cradle of the Corvette suspension. To fit within specific rules for running Optima Ultimate Street Car events, Anthony had to fabricate fender flairs to cover the wider track width of the C5.
Anthony decided to go ahead and throw twin turbos at the motor for good measure. Using one of Holley’s Universal Turbo Kits, the built LS1 now makes a conservative 500hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. No matter what angle you look at the “Dirty Datsun”, it brings up new questions. It’s full of one-off touches. Look for an exclusive feature to dive deeper into this build in LSX Magazine soon!
We think the first LS Fest Texas event was a hit. There were a few kinks to iron out given the fact that the event was held on the infield of a NASCAR track. But overall, the whole weekend was packed with great racing, beautiful show vehicles, and lot of vendors. It will only get bigger and better from here.