NINTH INNING BLAST
Holley’s 2018 LS Fest East was a grand slam
An example of this is how the PSI Conversions Show-N-Shine had so many entries that the cars overflowed into the adjacent theme park, which was actually kind of cool as it added a little extra flavor to the car show
aspect of the event. Signing up to participate for the Grand Champion portion of the LS Fest (autocross, drag racing, 3S challenge bundle) sold out in record time. Yep, just about every vintage and modern Pro Touring-style
muscle car owner in the country wants in on this event. Needless to say, the LS Fest brings out the best of the best to show who has the baddest all-around LS-powered performance street car.
To keep things a little fairer and to tighten up the competition a bit, this year Holley adopted a Vintage class for model year vehicles 1989 and older and a Modern class for muscle cars 1990 and newer. As the event has matured over the years, wily competitors realized that latemodel Corvettes were easily more competitive than their tried-and-true vintage muscle cars, so the leader board became heavily lopsided with late-model Vettes populating the top spots in just about every category of the Grand Champion competition. With vintage muscle cars now having their own class, it gave those driving heavier classics a more equal opportunity to win a tall trophy and a stash of cash.
Holley also took care of the muscle truck competitors by offering them a class of their own so they could compete amongst themselves and have the opportunity to take home a trophy as well. Truck builds are becoming
more popular than ever, but their overall weight and higher center of gravity puts them at a disadvantage compared to their lower, sleeker muscle car brethren, so it only made sense they play together amongst themselves.
Props go out to the team at Holley for being great hosts and recognizing the need for change and coming up with these additional classes.
To take part in the Grand Champion competition, entrants must take on two autocross courses—a fairly tight, technical layout at Beech Bend Raceway and a more opened up course at the nearby National Corvette Museum where drivers were able to cut loose and bang gears for a little more speed. They must also turn in a timeslip from the dragstrip with their quickest elapsed time of the weekend and also take part in Sunday’s 3S Challenge, which requires smooth launches and precise braking to achieve a low elapsed time. Blow through the stop box at the end of the course and your run is disqualified. This is one competition that is way harder than it looks even on a dry course, but being the skies opened up on Sunday morning, the wet, sloppy course took the difficulty factor to another level.
This year’s Grand Champion winner in the Vintage class was hardly a surprise as 2016 LS Fest East and 2017 LS Fest West champion Mike DuSold, in his ridiculously fast and
wild-looking 1967 Camaro, cleaned house, while 2018 LS Fest West champion Rich Willhoff took his 2006 Corvette to the winner’s circle in the Modern class. In the Truck class, Brad Smith took home the hardware in his 1997 GMC Sonoma.
Although the Grand Champion competition is an event highlight for many at the LS Fest, the drag racing is second to none, and with 11 classes available to run in, it kept the racing competitive and ensured the dragstrip stayed hot all weekend long. Unfortunately, bad weather spoiled Sunday’s final rounds, so purses in most classes were divided according to where the racers stood on the elimination ladder. Still, the action on Friday and Saturday kept drag racing fans up against the fences for two days straight.
For the second year, the Hoonigan Burnout Challenge took place in the Beech Bend “bullring” where a capacity crowd was on hand to witness the tire-annihilating exhibition. The winner was decided by crowd approval, which was gained by the car that emitted the largest cloud of tire smoke into the sky while performing donuts in a confined area. A blown tire followed by a spark-fest from the wheels ensured the loudest crowd response. After the smoke had finally cleared it was Gerald Campbell in his heavily patina’d four-door 1956 Chevy wagon taking the win.
The Tuning School Dyno Challenge
was divided into two classes:
Naturally Aspirated and Power Adder. In the N/A class, Casey Artmayer took top honors with a pull of 602 horsepower in his 2008 Corvette, while Anthony Peck, in his 1972 Vega, busted out the top number with a 1,206-horsepower pull in the Power Adder class.
The Lucas Oil Drift Challenge is another LS Fest crowd favorite that takes place in the bullring where the top drivers in the country drift their LS-powered machines just inches apart from one another, creating some of the most exciting side-by-side, tire shredding action of the event. In the end, it was first-time LS Fest participant Taylor Hull taking the win in his supercharged Cadillac ATS.
For the total gearheads in attendance, there was the Brian Tooley Racing Bolt-On Power Challenge where two teams started out with a junkyard 6.0L truck engine “broken in” with more than 100,000 miles on it, had to tear it apart, and rebuild the top-end with high-performance parts supplied by top aftermarket companies in the industry. The first team to fire up the engine and have it idle for a minimum of 30 seconds was deemed the winner. After 2 hours, 10 minutes and 48 seconds, it was the father and son team of Eric and Austin Bujnevicie who started their engine first. For their efforts, they took home the engine and all of the highperformance bolt-on parts on it.
For those looking for their next performance upgrade, the massive manufacturers midway featured two long rows populated with the leading aftermarket companies in the industry offering the best highperformance engines and engine components to help get you to that next horsepower goal. Also on hand were some of the best and most respected suspension companies showing off their latest wares.
So, with Holley delivering one more big hit with their ninth installment of the LS Fest East, we are anxiously awaiting to see what Holley has in mind for the tenth round of the greatest LS-powered show on earth. Whatever the plan, we already have early September 2019 set aside for the Holley LS Fest East Number 10.
The octane-fed folks at Holley recently made the nine-year mark for their highly successful LS Fest East held in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and have easily hit another one out of the park. As Holley’s LS Fest East gets greater in the number of events, so grows the spectator and competitor counts as well.
Young Andy Voelkel took over driving duties of RideTech’s first-gen 48 Hour Camaro and took full advantage of the experience on the Beech Bend and National Corvette Museum autocross courses.
If you are a fourth-gen Camaro and drag racing fan, you were a happy camper at the LS Fest East, as they were there representing in force.
Heavy rain left a massive puddle in the right lane of the Baer Brakes 3S Challenge course on Sunday, but the competition went on as scheduled. It made for slower times and more focused driving, but the byproduct was some really cool photos.
Justin Nall comes in hot as he crosses the finish line on the NCM autocross course. His 1966 Chevelle did him right as he finished in Eighth Place overall in the Vintage class.
With a score of 295, 2018 Holley LS Fest West winner Rich Willhoff took top honors in the Modern class for Grand Champion. His 2006 Corvette is all that.
George Landis gets props for having the oldest car competing in the Grand Champion Vintage class. In his 1950 Chevrolet Fleetline, he finished 16th overall, which is super impressive.
For the first time at the LS Fest East, Holley adopted a Truck class for the Grand Champion portion of the competition. With trucks becoming more popular these days, it only made sense for these haulers to go head to head in their own class. Congratulations go to Brad Smith in his 1997 GMC Sonoma for killing it and being the first Truck class champion.
The Hoonigan Burnout Challenge always draws a huge crowd and Gerald Campbell pleased them all in his 1956 Chevy wagon as it covered the Beech Bend Raceway bullring in a massive cloud of green tire smoke.
The Brian Tooley Racing Bolt-On Power Challenge attracted a huge crowd on Saturday to witness two teams compete in bringing a junkyard LS engine to life by tearing into the top-end and swapping in high-performance bolt-on parts from top manufacturers in the industry, and having it start and idle for a minimum of 30 seconds. The father and son duo of Eric and Austin Bujnevicie took the win by finishing the task in just 2 hours, 10 minutes and 48 seconds.
Drag racing was cut short as a rainstorm on Sunday meant all final rounds were canceled, but the racing was fierce on Friday and Saturday. This 1967 Nova was laying out wicked burnouts prior to every run.
James Otto brought out his awesome 1966 Chevy C10 muscle truck for a weekend of autocrossing and automotive shenanigans. No times were listed, which tells us he was playing in the exhibition class.
Duke Roddy has the coolest name of all the competitors at the LS Fest East, and as a bonus, he finished Second overall in the Truck class for the 2018 Grand Champion. No doubt he’ll make some adjustments to his 1965 C10 prior to the 2019 event.
We liked everything about Ron Scott’s 1963 Corvette. The stance, flared fenders, and wheel combo was on point. And the fact that the car ran low 12s on the dragstrip running street tires made it even cooler.
Aaron Oberle is an LS Fest regular and gets his 1965 Chevelle to as many events as he can, which is actually quite a few. He finished 29th overall and we’re betting he’s looking to up his game for the 2019 event to the tune of a Top 15 finish.
Fifth- and sixth-gen Camaros on the prowl in the infamous Beech Bend staging lanes.