LS Fest East 2023: Drag Racing

10 min read

LS Fest East 2023: Drag Racing

10 min read

If you're at LS Fest or reading this from home, you know there's one reason we all choose to worship at the altar of the almighty LS and LT engines: They make big power and they don't have to cost you a lot of money. And there is no better display of power than sending LS-powered machines down the ole 1320'. Whether your weapon of choice is just the 14.7 psi that Earth's atmosphere provides us (at sea level), chemical injection from the finest forms of nitrous oxide and methanol, or additional pressure provided by a turbo or supercharger, drag racing is the standard by which real power is measured and where we separate the men from the boys at LS Fest.

Drag Racers Are Firing Up Fast for LS Fest East

Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky is hopping with the fever of GM Performance at Holley LS Fest East presented by eBay Motors and Motor Life.

The Park is filled from end to end with drag racers, S3 Challenge, burnout challenge, Dyno Challenge, autocrossers, Grand Champion, drifters, and show cars. Fans will experience off-road action and an absolutely massive manufacturer’s midway with every LS and LT component you dream about having, from dress-up parts to the most hardcore power adders, suspension components, and more.

We hit the pits and found some serious hardware, from factory-equipped LS and LT runners to the most bizarre swaps on the planet. As you can imagine, the tech line was buzzing with racers looking to run in a variety of race classes including $10K No Time, Quick 16 Shootout, Melling Performance Grudge Test N Tune, Current Performance Wiring Street King, TorqStorm Billet Superchargers Rumble, RacePak Truck & SUV, Gulfcoast 8.60 Street Race, Texas Speed & Performance 10.5 Warrior Index, Driven Racing Oil Drag & Drive, BTR Stock Block Shootout, Monster Clutch Co. Stick Shift/Banger and SDPC Grand Champion.

The Supreme Cutlass

Like many racers at LS Fest East, Christopher Ridell has taken an unconventional approach to speed and performance. He arrived with his 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme four-door with LS power under the hood.

While originally from Coventry, Connecticut, Christopher is now a Floridian and he made the trek from Seffner, Florida. Seffner, a suburb of Tampa, is the hometown of Don “Big Daddy” Garlits.

Christopher told us he decided on the four-door Olds because it’s a clone of a car his grandparents had back in the day when he first started driving. The original engine is long gone, and the bay is now filled with a stock 5.3L that’s been improved with a Brian Tooley Racing cam and valve train along with a VS Racing 78/75 single turbocharger that’s tuned to produce 20 psi. It’s backed by a Turbo 400 transmission, a 9-inch rear and that’s enough to deliver 9.50s at 138 mph and he’ll be competing in Street King this weekend.

Putting The “Go” In This Hurst Olds Clone

Automotive enthusiasts quickly recognize the rich history of Oldsmobile and Hurst Performance. Olds, of course, built its flagship 442, while Hurst, as you know built shifters and other items for the street and track.

A marriage between the two began in 1968 with the introduction of the Hurst/Olds, a special model of the Cutlass that was a huge hit with street owners and drag racers. Olds was already knocking it out of the park with its 442, but the Hurst/Olds was different. It wore catchy Peruvian silver and black paint and Hurst/Olds callout emblems, but more importantly, it allowed Oldsmobile marketing to skirt a little problem faced by GM go-fast engineers.

At that time (1968-69), GM had an internal policy that no Intermediate vehicles (which included GTO, Chevelle, Cutlass, or Skylark) could have more than 400 cubic inches. But modified by Hurst, the Hurst/Olds packed a 455-cube thumper that was rated at 390 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 500 lb-ft. of torque at 3,200 rpm. This trumped the 442, which had 360 horsepower from the top-dog W-30 package. And despite only 515 Hurst/Olds being built in ‘68, it kicked started a relationship that lasted on and off in the model years of 1969, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1983, and 1984.

That brings us to John Andrade Jr. and his 1982 Cutlass that’s painted in the 1984 H/O scheme. Oldsmobile aficionados already know the manufacturer used a reversed scheme the previous year, with black being the prominent color. Both the 1983 and 1984 H/O models came factory-equipped with a 307 engine and Hurst Lightning Rod shifters, which mimicked Lenco levers commonly found in Pro Stock cars of the time. In fact, Warren Johnson ran the factory H/O paint schemes on his entries during those seasons.

Ironically, John’s LSX, a 434-incher built by Texas Speed & Performance, likely makes more power than Johnson’s Pro Stock engine of the time. To do so, it benefits from a Precision Turbo 98 mm Pro Mod unit, it runs on Renegade Methanol and EFI comes from a Holley Dominator.

The Olds also uses a 2-speed Powerglide transmission with a PTC converter and delivers mid-4s at 160 mph in the eight-mile. John is attending LS Fest East with his wife Misha and will be racing in the $10K No Time category.

Second Gen Twin-Turbo LS Warrior

Cruising the pits at LS Fest East we checked out the tech line, as it’s always a great place to see cars and drivers who getting ready for the weekend. There, we caught up with Payton Futrell and his awesome 1981 Camaro that will be raced in the $10K No Time class.

Peyton, who is from Jonesboro, AR, is ready to attack the Bowling Green track with his 388-inch LSX that’s boosted with a pair of 67mm Precision Turbos. The Chevrolet also has Frankenstein heads, a Holley intake and it’s managed by a Holley Dominator EFI fuel injection system.

Running on methanol, it makes as much as 2,000 horsepower, but Peyton has it dialed back to around 1,500 ponies. It’s backed by a 2-speed Glide a Fab 9 rear end and it still has leaf springs and a few components from Smith Racecraft Suspension. Peyton is enjoying the event with wife and 10-year-old son Casen, who is serving as crew chief.

Tim Kish Rolls Into LS Fest East With His Boosted Bantam Altered

By day Tim Kish is deep into making boost—and as an employee of Magnuson Superchargers, he knows about blowers, and on the weekend he puts the power to use in his wickedly fast ’32 Bantam Altered.

Built as a bracket brawler, the Spitzer Altered is light, hooks hard, and is very fast, having run 7.20s at 185 mph. There’s nothing to hide, as you can see the 403-inch iron LS that is based around a 6.0L truck block. It has GM cathedral-port heads, a forged rotating assembly, and the combination was machined & assembled by Lingenfelter Performance Engineering.

The blower is a Magnuson 2650, which is a similar unit to what you’d find on a COPO Camaro. Running at 24 psi of boost and burning methanol, it produces 1,300 horsepower. And with the methanol for fuel, Tim doesn’t need an intercooler, which keeps things simple and light. Race weight is just 1,850 lbs. and Tim plans to go some rounds this weekend along with showing off the cool factor of his unique LS-powered machine.

Twin Turbo Trans Am Terror

Of the multitude of LS- and LT-powered machines at LS Fest East, F-Bodies may be common, but each one has its own character. And this one, with a pair of sinister Precision boost makers up front, caught our eye.

Daniella Stefanski is the proud owner and she’s not afraid to drop the hammer on her street-legal, twin-turbo 1998 T/A that features the WS6 package. “We love racing and competition,” Daniella said. “We’ve done Sick Week twice and Hot Rod Drag Week once so far. “And we love LS Fest.”

Along with her husband Chuck, and Big 3 Racing, the team has modified the Trans Am with a GM aluminum LSA 6.2L that’s been updated with a Brian Tooley Racing (BTR) intake, cam, and valvetrain. Providing boost are the aforementioned Precision 76/75 turbochargers. It fits in the Stock Block class and has blasted to a 5.22 at 140 mph in the eight-mile and it can go 8.20s at 162 in the quarter.

Fuel is E85 and race weight is 3,650 lbs. on the Pontiac, which also has a Turbo 400 transmission and a Ford 9-inch rear end.

A Triumph Over Sanity

The LS/LT engine platform powers the mild to wild. Everything you can imagine, from farm tractors, mail trucks, imports, domestics, fill-tilt drag cars to vans, and LS Fest, is where you find 'em.

This particular LS-powered monster drew a crowd at this year's LS Fest. It's a 1970 Triumph GT6 Plus powered by a 6.0L LS with a monster roots blower. The GT6 is the hard-top equivalent of the Triumph Spitfire.

It's running but narrowly shy of being a finished, driving car, as the lack of methanol and a turned-up blower resulted in high intake temps. "It was in pieces yesterday, and we put the blower on it last night," said owner Ryan Tharpe of Greenville, Indiana. He entered it in the Under Construction class of the car show.

The Triumph retains only the center section of its original frame. A new front clip with Mustang Fox Body struts, Mustang-II control arms, and New Edge Mustang spindles is upfront. He built frame rails over a narrowed Ford 9-inch rear axle in the back. "It's just a mess of everything," said Ryan.

"I just saw it on the Internet and thought it looked cool," said Ryan. He bought the Triumph for $1,800 as a running, driving the car with a 350-small block and a spare LS to boot. The original plan was for twin turbos, "I just wanted to do something ridiculous with the blower."

The Kobelco 14-71 blower sits on a billet spacer with a burst panel and a Holley low-ram lower intake. The 6.0L LS features forged internals and stock heads, but the blower likely overpowers that setup. The current pulley combo makes 33 pounds of boost and 3 pounds just at idle.

A Holley Dominator ECU powers Bosch 210 injectors with Billet Atomizer 700cc injectors above the blower, with methanol fuel running through both sets of injectors. Behind the engine is a Turbo 400.

So why the wild stance? It's strictly a No Prep car. "It'll likely never see a track unless it's a backside track," said Ryan. It currently runs a small 28-inch rear tire.

Ryan has the panels to fix the rust but likely won't use them. "I like the rusty, sleeper look," said Ryan. "...well, I guess it's not much of a sleeper with that blower."

Green, Mean LS 280Z—A Datsun with a Detroit Soul

For decades, racers have been swapping high-horsepower engines into lightweight cars. The reason? Acceleration is all about power-to-weight ratio, so the lighter the car, the quicker and faster you go. It’s that simple. But that’s just one reason Terry Garmon mated an LS engine to a 1977 Datsun 280/Z.

Easily seen in its Mercedes Green paint, the Z-car made its debut at this year’s LS Fest East. It also made its maiden voyage down the 1,320, ripping to a 10.1 at 145 mph. That run came on low boost, but it will go much quicker once Terry adds an 8-second legal cage.

Replacing the Japanese straight-six engine is a 408-inch LS topped with LS3 heads and a Holley/Tick Performance intake with a built-in intercooler. It also has a single 91mm TDI turbocharger, which is neatly tucked in the engine bay. Amazingly, there’s room for a Vintage Air system, a necessity according to Terry since it’s a street car.

Terry has only been working on the Datsun for a year or so, and in that time, he’s painted the it, added the rear fender flares—not to mention the boosted LS, 4L80 transmission, and believe this… a 2017 Mustang IRS, which came from Invincible Extremes Suspension. Along with his wife, Danae, the couple from Concord, North Carolina is having a blast at their third LS Fest.

The Datsun is getting a lot of attention and that will only grow with more passes and quicker elapsed times.

Recipe for Success—1,125-HP Turbo LS Revives a Trans Am

One of the best ways to get a deal on any car is to find a project that’s stalled or abandoned. That was the case with Barry Cook’s 2002 Trans Am, which he rescued by adding a Ruby Red wrap and a turbo LS.

“It was an abandoned project with a cage and some parts that were just sitting around,” said Barry. “We had a plan to bring it back; we’ve been working on it for about two years now. We love Drag-and-Drive events, especially LS Fest here at Bowling Green. This is our 10th year at LS Fest, it's all about seeing everyone from all over. It’s like Christmas,” he added.

Motivation for the street/strip Pontiac comes from a 6.0L LS with forged internals and TFS 220 cylinder heads. The combination also includes a Brian Tooley Racing (BTR) Stage 4 turbo cam, Holley Low Ram, and 220-lb. Fuel Injector Development squirters. Speaking of boost, he employed a Forced Induction 91/102mm turbocharger set to 30 psi. for track use.

Burning E85, it made 1,125 rear-wheel horsepower, but that was on 29 psi. Being a Drag-and-Driver, the driveline must be efficient and durable, too. Barry chose a GM Turbo 400 three-speed with a Hughes converter for maximum performance. And out back you’ll find a 9-inch with 3.50 gears.

The T/A is no lightweight, coming in at 3,675 lbs. and Barry says it still has operational power steering, keyless entry, and a great stereo. Riding on Mickey Thompson 275 Pros, Barry’s run 8.63 at 155 mph. That’s his quickest-ever pass, and it happened at LS Fest East 2023. Barry gets help from a few folks, including his friend Collin Chapman, who is here keeping the Trans Am looking good and running well.

Stock-Block Record Smashed at Holley LS Fest East

The LS universe stretches far and wide, and within the community, there are noted accomplishments and milestones. Today, at Holley LS Fest East, a big one dropped when Dylan Cato delivered a 4.209 at 175.52 mph to set the “unofficial” LS Stock-Block record.

Dylan’s run came Sunday morning as he got ahold of the Beech Bend Raceway Park starting line and poured the coals to his ultra-clean 1989 LX Ford Mustang.

Powering the Ford is a stock-block LS built by BES that’s fitted with a Dart crank, Oliver rods, and Wiseco pistons. It has a Frankenstein top end along with a Precision 102mm turbo. The LS consumes methanol and air is shoved in the cylinders at upwards of 32 psi. It’s controlled with a Holley Dominator EFI system and max power is around 2,000 horsepower! The LS is backed by a PTC converter and a two-speed Turbo 400. There’s also an 8.8-inch Ford rear out back.

A farmer by trade, Dylan, who is 29, came to LS Fest with the goal in mind of setting a new record in a car he just started driving. An earlier attempt on Saturday night ended in a wheel spin, but the team adjusted by tuning the engine for a smoother launch.

“I was driving a 5.40 No-Prep car on a slick, so this it totally different,” said Dylan. “But it drives really well—especially when it keeps the front end down. It’s the first time I’ve raced on a radial tire, but it’s stable, even at 175 mph. Holley LS Fest is like nothing I’ve experienced. It’s been awesome and I’ll definitely be back,” he added.

For suspension the Mustang has coil-over Frankenstein Series shocks by Ron G, there’s a stock-type rear suspension, and Mickey Thompson 275 tires on RC Components wheels feeding the power to the track. The Mustang was built by Next Motorsports Race Cars (Lynchville, KY) and was painted by Jeff Duvall. Builders and crew Isaac and Adam Preston were on hand; together they ensured the car was tuned perfectly each pass.

The future looks bright for Dylan Cato, his LS-powered Mustang is a low 4.20 player, but they won’t be resting on that number. The team feels 4-teens is in the cards, so stay tuned because they’ll be back for more.

Holley LS Fest East Drag Eliminations

After three days of intense drag racing action, winners were determined at Holley LS Fest East presented by eBay Motors. With 16 racing classes, there was something for all levels of competitors, from mild street-legal daily drivers to the 2,000-plus horsepower boosted and nitrous beasts in $10K No Time.

True Street

Winner - Tyler Baber

Runner Up - Kevin Smith

Holley Q16 Shootout

Winner - Tim Kish - Kalamazoo, MI - 1932 Bantam - 4.625 @ 148.44 MPH

Runner Up - Johnny Weinert j- Huber Heights, OH - 1999 Spitzer - 4.959 @ 137.88 MPH

#1 Qualifier - Tim Kish - Kalamazoo, MI - 1932 Bantam - 4.587 @ 150.41 MPH

Gulfcoast Driveshaft 8.60

Winner - Joe Gribben - Wabash, IN - 1968 Camaro - 8.890 @ 139.23 MPH

Runner Up - Michael Johnson - Joelton, TN - 1971 Camaro - 9.292 @ 165.27 MPH

#1 Qualifier - Joe Gribben - Wabash, IN - 1968 Camaro - 8.699 @ 158.78 MPH

Texas Speed & Performance 10.5 Warrior

Winner - Rodney Payne - Mt. Vernon, KY - 1968 Camaro - 10.703 @ 107.26 MPH

Runner Up - Tim Couty - Carrier Mills, IL - 2011 CTS-V - 10.864 @ 132.21 MPH

#1 Qualifier - Rodney Payne - Mt. Vernon, KY - 1968 Camaro - 10.582

Current Performance Wiring LSX Street King

Winner - Casey Martin - Pittsfield, IL - 1998 Camaro - 10.111 @ 129.18 MPH

Runner Up - John McWaters - Paducah, KY - 1969 Camaro - 10.513 @ 132.52 MPH

#1 Qualifier - John Bianchi - Springfield, TN - 2016 Camaro - 10.203

Monster Clutch Stick/Banger

Winner - Shane Becker - Eaton, OH - 1998 Trans Am - 8.331 @ 157.87 MPH

Runner Up - Breanna Paintiff - Broadview Heights, OH - 2012 CTS-V - 10.662 @ 133.90 MPH

#1 Qualifier - Shane Becker - Eaton, OH - 1998 Trans Am - 7.836 @ 181.59 MPH

Low E/T - Shane Becker - Eaton, OH - 1998 Trans Am - 7.730

Top Speed - Shane Becker - Eaton, OH - 1998 Trans Am - 181.59 MPH

Racepak Truck & SUV

Racepak Truck & SUV

Winner - Caden Chambers - Tennessee - 5.938 @ 128.46 MPH

Runner Up - Chris Girard - Falkville, AL - 2008 TBSS - 6.070 @ 113.40 MPH

#1 Qualifier - Micah Carroll - Ringold, GA - 1989 S15 - 5.052 @ 141.52 MPH

Low E/T - Micah Carroll - Ringold, GA - 1989 S15 - 5.052

Top Speed - Micah Carroll - Ringold, GA - 1989 S15 - 141.52 MPH

BTR Stock Block

BTR Stock Block

Winner - John Schaeffer - Willard, MO - 1990 Mustang - 4.718 @ 153.88 MPH

Runner Up -

#1 Qualifier - Justin Cavazos - Cedar Creek, TX - 2000 Trans Am - 4.824 @ 152.42 MPH

Low E/T - John Schaeffer - Willard, MO - 1990 Mustang - 4.718

Top Speed - Justin Cavazos - Cedar Creek, TX - 2000 Trans Am - 158.52 MPH

TorqStorm LSX Rumble

TorqStorm LSX Rumble

Winner - Jackie Clark - Elizabethtown, KY - 1988 S10 - 11.116 @ 101.84 MPH

Runner Up - John Janson - Sidney, OH - 2013 Caprice - 13.597 @ 105.04 MPH

#1 Qualifier - Nick Levi - 12.782 - Rising Sun, IN - 2004 GTO - 12.782


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