LS FEST TEXAS 2023: Drag Racing


LS FEST TEXAS 2023: Drag Racing


Drag racers are preparing to fly at the Holley LS Fest Texas, where they will take on the “pit road raceway” at the Texas Motor Speedway. Normally a haven for NASCAR Stock Cars to refuel and get fresh tires, the TMS pit road will serve as an unprepped eight-mile track that will be both fun and challenging to navigate.

Today and tomorrow drivers will compete in a variety of classes including SDPC (Scoggin Dickey Parts Center) Small-Tire Unlimited; Drag and Drive NA; Texas Speed & Performance Drag and Drive Power Adder; Truck & SUV; Grudge Test-N-Tune and Stick Shift / Banger. And a quick tour of the pits revealed everything from stock crate LS and LT engines to heavily modified and boosted combinations making over 2,000 horsepower!

All classes will run Heads-Up, eight-mile with “Instant light” start with a win light only finish, no times will be posted. Adding to the excitement, the track surface will receive none of the typical preparation. This means no glue or artificial “rubbering in” that is common at drag strips. Water burn outs (single burn out only) are allowed.

No Prep, No Problem—Drag Racing LS Fest Texas Style

After two incredible days and nights of heads-up, Outlaw-style drag racing, champions were crowned at Holley’s LS Fest Texas. Rain halted Saturday’s action before final eliminations, so the purse was combined, making for an all-out shootout to determine the winners.

This only elevated the excitement and as night-time fell, eliminations kicked off to determine who would take home the cash and winner’s jackets.

Holley LS Fest Texas includes a variety of classes and virtually every pass down the unprepped surface proved exciting. Competition was contested in SDPC (Scoggin Dickey Parts Center) Small-Tire Unlimited; Drag and Drive NA; Texas Speed & Performance Drag and Drive Power Adder; Truck & SUV; Grudge Test-N-Tune and Stick Shift/Banger. And in addition, fans were treated to a special grudge race between Street Outlaws Murder Nova and Ryan Martin.

The track stated out completely “green” but after hundreds of passes there was enough rubber to provide a nice level of grip. Seasoned racers were able to take advantage and turn up the power, while others struggled with traction. There was definitely a fine art to this style of “no prep” racing, both in vehicle setup and driving technique.

Small-Tire Unlimited was wild and with a combined purse of over $5,000 the racing drivers let it all hang out. This class allowed all-wheel drive with suspension mods, no wheelie bars and any power added. The final came down to TK vs TK and as the clock closed in on Midnight the race went off with TK taking the win.

Drag and Drive NA was up next, and this heads-up class is designed for all-motor street-type race cars, and in addition to racing, drivers had to make a 10-mile cruise, which took place at Texas Motor Speedway, before they lined up for the drag-strip action. With only two cars remaining after the rounds of eliminations, TK faced off against TK for the $2,250 prize. TK got the jump on the “instant green” tree and held on to win over TK.

Moving up in power was Texas Speed & Performance Drag and Drive Power Adder. Like the NA class, drivers had to enter with street-type and mostly stock suspension vehicles, with tires limited to DOT-approved tires and they had to drive and race on the same tires. This was a hugely popular class with dozens of fast runs being laid down and with such big power, winning rounds came down to getting off the line quick and clean. The last racers standing were TK and TK and in a tight race, it was TK scoring the Texas LS Fest win and the $1,500 purse with $750 going to the Runner-up.

It wouldn’t be a race in Texas without a truck class and Holley LS Fest Texas packed ‘em in with a bunch of rigs on the strip. In fact, we saw a multitude of brands, all with LS or modern LT power of course. Racers were paired using the “chip draw” method and the boost was on the loose in this category. In the end it was TK in his TK taking the win and $2,500 purse over TK.

Got clutch? If you did the Stick-Shift Banger class was for you. Racers with clutch-assisted “H” pattern-shifted transmissions got it on with a combined Friday/Saturday purse of $3,250 on the line. Jamming his way to the win was TK, who outlasted the field, beating TK in the final.

Lastly, Holley LS fest Texas offered Grudge Test-N-Tune, a no-payout class with only bragging rights on the line. The format allowed racers of all skill levels to makes passes against random drivers or you could “call out” a friend and battle it out.

Draggin’ Under The Friday Night Lights

Texas Motor Speedway was thundering Friday night at the Holley LS Fest Texas as drag racers lit up pit road with loads of LS, LSX, and LT horsepower. Burnouts, launches and big top speeds were the name of the game as racers took on the unprepped eight-mile track.

The lack of traction compound didn’t bother the pilots who put the throttle to the mat and ripped off quick elapsed times, some fishtailing down track in wild fashion. And the array of vehicles was astonishing. We saw mildly modded machines, and some all-out brawlers. Some favorites were David Shortz International Harvester Scout 800, that packed a 1,300-horsepower punch and laid down sick passes. Another was the ’72 LTD of Jack Crawford, which ran strong. And who doesn’t love a Cobra replica? Yup, we love them and Charles Federle was seen pounding the gears in his Tremec-equipped Cobra that has a 416-inch LS.

With no clocks, just an instant green for launch and flag-man at the stripe, we enjoyed the rawness of head-to-head competition without worrying about 60-foot times or even finish-line ETs. It was four hours of fun and the best part is we get to do it again tomorrow night!

A V10 LS ’55 Chevy, You Bet and you Won’t Find Another

Let’s face it, 1955 Chevrolet Bel-Airs are nothing new, but we about stopped in our tracks when we saw the “V10 LS” license plate on Darrin Gartrell’s immaculate Tri-Five. Was he joking? Did it really have a V10 LS engine? Does such a thing even exist? To find out, we scurried to the front and sure enough there was 10 cylinders of LS packed under the hood.

“It’s a V10 prototype from GM,” said owner Darrin Gartrell, “and it took us two years to piece it together and get it running. The engine was going to be discarded by GM,” he said. Thankfully, it skirted the crusher and now powers this awesome ’55.

Prior to the swap, Darrin was cruising and racing the Chevy with a 454 big-block that had a manual transmission. But he couldn’t resist the urge to try the V10.

For simplicity’s sake the engine was kept close to stock, with its GM forged crank and stock rods, but CP pistons were added for strength. The block and heads are casts from GM based around Gen 4 LS 6.0 architecture, but with two extra cylinders added to the front. Darrin spent countless hours TIG welding the intake and fabricating the headers. The V10 makes an even 700 horsepower and 615 lb-ft of torque at the crank and is backed by a 4L85E transmission and a Ford 9-inch with 3.70 gears.

Darrin set the restored body on a Nerd Rods chassis with QA-1 coil-over shocks and 14-inch Wilwood brakes. Along with the PPG Phoenix Red and Black paint, Darrin and his son Shawn fabbed the engine bay sheetmetal and they redid the interior with a touch of modern.

Not a Mach 1, But a Yacht 1—Jack Crawford’s LS LTD

When it comes LS swaps, we’ve just about seen it all. And while some builders or racers put the emphasis on the engine and find any suitable body, others, like Jack Crawford, are more partial to the car. In this case, his 1972 Ford LTD is a family heirloom and he was 100-percent going to build, drive and race this car.

“My great grandparents bought the car new and my mom learned to drive in it,” said Jack. When the stock engine expired, he thought about replacing it with a Ford, but that plan changed to a 6.0 LS Chevy.

His latest mill now displaces 408 cubic inches and it wears PRC 247 heads, a VS Racing 75-102 turbo and a Holley EFI intake. Jack told us the engine has a BTR valvetrain and cam along with Holley Terminator X EFI. It’s backed by a Jakes Stave V 4L80E transmission. It still has a Ford 9-inch along and it tips the scale at 4,500 lbs.

The Chevrolet-powered Ford can dig into the 9s, with a best of 9.48 at 142 mph in the quarter and he gets help from BTR, 918 Motorsports, Lucitos Machine Shop and he’s enjoying LS Fest Texas with his wife Lauren and his daughters Abigail (3) and Andrea (6).

Internationally Known—A 1967 International Scout With LSX Power

Putting the fun in drag racing is David Shortz from Houston and his awesome International Harvester Scout 800. The ’67 model Scout 800 is the predecessor to the more common Scout II. Scouts were was sold from 1961 to 1980 and battled for sales with the Ford Bronco, Jeep and the Chevy K5 Blazer to name a few.

The biggest engine available in the Scout 800 was a 266-cube (4.4L) V8 that just can’t compare the current 377-cube LSX that David has employed to motivate his machine.

His Scout makes over 1,300 horsepower and is hard to miss with its bright orange paint that features white-painted roof, bumpers, headlight buckets and upper bed sides. The hot-rod restoration is all about performance, though, and once you flip up the cowled hood you’ll see the pair of On3 Performance turbos and that mighty LSX engine.

The mill features a built bottom-end, Frankenstein heads and a Speedmaster intake with a 92mm throttle body. It runs on methanol, is fed by Atomizer 575 injectors and is controlled by the Holley Dominator EFI. The LSX is backed by a Coan Engineering Turbo 400, a Ford 9-inch with a custom 4-link suspension and Hoosier tires for grip. At 3,700 pounds it has run 5.80s at 129 mph in the eight-mile.


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