And that’s all she wrote. The largest, most successful Holley LS Fest of all time has officially come to a close and you can bet your ass it was one for the record books. Over 1,300 cars participated in the week’s festivities, according to Holley, and it certainly felt like it. LS fans from far and wide flocked to Bowling Green—or the holy land as we prefer to call it—in droves to take part in the eighth annual LS-centric festivities. And though today may have not been as well-attended as Saturday, there was still plenty of action and fans alike.
Drag racing headed into final eliminations while the Super Chevy Baer 3S challenge kicked off, and the battle for Grand Champion raged on—more on that later. Over on they dyno, the battle for highest horsepower continued while the drift nuts prepared to find out who would take home top bragging rights.
This '63 split window is the stuff of dreams. Powered by an LS3 and underpinned by modern Corvette suspension, it may not have been the fastest on the course but it sure was the most gorgeous.
At the end of it all, winners were crowned and the losers were left to pick up the pieces—in some cases literally—and told “better luck next year.” But before we can tell you who won what and who went home heart broken, let’s bring you up to speed on how the weekend wrapped up.
Three Pedals Rumble whittled its lengthy list of entrants down to ten in short order. Daniel Priebus of Chattanooga, TN in the 2010 Camaro SS met Rodney Payne of Mt Vernon, KY in the second-gen. Payne was much quicker off the tree, despite being a little farther off his 11.177 index. Nick Cain was quick off the line in his ‘69 Chevelle, helping him take down Rustin Cox of Lexington, AL in the ‘87 Chevy S10. The St Clair, MO native cut a .090 light and went 11.558 on his 11.50 index. When Matt Brasfield of Jackson, TN and Carey Deckard of Bedford, IN squared off, Brasfield had one of the quickest reaction times of the day (.042). He later surpassed it, though, with a .022 against Payne in the semifinals for the win – after overcoming Cain (who red-lit) in the quarterfinals.
On the other side of the ladder, Charlie Polly in the 2015 Chevy SS and Mike Morris in the ‘57 Chevy had a very unceremonious meeting. When Polly red-lit, Morris was propelled into the quarterfinals against veteran Rob Farley ‘98 Corvette Pace Car. Farley defeated Michael Dobbs in the ‘99 Camaro, which was a very tight race among the two east coasters. Farley (from Old Bridge, NJ) cut a .121 light and went 11.51 on his 11.50 index, while Dobbs (Milton, NC) went .095 and 12.046 on his 12.00 index. Morris (New Haven, KY) took down Farley in another nail-biter with a double break-out, then saw a bye round before meeting Brasfield in the finals. In the end, it was the ‘57 Chevy that took home the hardware this year. Brasfield red-lit and was later DQ’d after failing a tech inspection.
In SAM Tech Street King, the sizeable field went six rounds to completion. Darren Morris from Bardstown, KY (son of Rumble winner Mike Morris) took down Dwayne Camp from Bremen, GA in the semifinals. The two left just a few thousands apart, but Morris was under two hundredths off his 10.75 dial-in. It was a classic F-body versus Mustang battle, except both had LS engines. Michael Vanstory of Mason, TN advanced after David Monroe broke out on his 10.00 dial-in. Vanstory’s ‘12 CTS-V went 10.068 on the same dial-in. Morris advanced against Vanstory thanks to a solid .085 light on a 10.785 run. Vanstory was a tick better than his previous (.103 RT on a 10.057 e.t.). Matt Forbes of Horselane, KY defeated Don Dixon of Greensboro, NC. Dixon red-lit in the GTO, and it was Forbes’ turn against Robert Strong in the quarterfinals. Strong previously had a bye in his all motor ‘87 Monte Carlo and proved he’s still quick on the tree – going .025 and 9.28 on his 9.25 dial-in. Unfortunately his quick trigger bit him in the finals, and Darren Morris took the overall win.
Frankenstein Late Model Heads Up was filled with fifth-gens, C6s, and C7s rolling on 18-inch wheels and drag radials. The 2008 Corvette of Mark Cook took out Jeff Ledford’s 2012 Camaro, running 10.51 at 120 mph versus the fifth-gen’s 11.45 at 125. Jeff Nance, who also hails from Cleveland, TN like the previous two contestants, squared off against Lester Miller of Wynne, AR. Nance’s 10-second 2015 Corvette was no match for Miller’s 2010 Camaro that went 9.696 at 141 mph. Josh Elam pulled in a similar time in his 2009 Corvette when taking down Johnny Matney’s 10-second 2012 Camaro. The Memphis native took on Cook in the quarterfinals, in a battle of C6s, when he turned it up to eleven and clicked off an 8.54 at 164 mph. Miller faced Rodney Booth, of Luceville, MS who had a bye in the previous round. Booth’s C7 was outmatched, going 10.17 to Miller’s 9.62 at 144 mph. When the two 9-second cars lined up, Elam put the hammer down and went 9.01 at 163 mph putting Miller in the dust.
As reported yesterday, Haley Rounsavall (Carlisle, AR) was indeed right in the mix in Scoggin-Dickey Chevrolet Performance Stock. Her fifth-gen took Keith Vaughn (Nashville, TN) and his ‘96 Camaro to task, running 10.152 at 130 mph to the fourth-gen’s 10.58 at 126. Kevin Lumsden of Caddo Mills, TX was victorious over Scotty Duncan’s ‘85 Camaro. Lumsden’s ‘99 Camaro went 10.18 at 130 to the Olive Branch, MS native’s 10.33 at 128 mph. Top qualifier Jesse Wilson had a bye run, but took the opportunity to click off a 10.12 at 130 mph run – and was just a few hundredths slower against Lumsden but good enough for the win in the quarterfinals. Rounsavall was pretty consistent, going 10.16 at 130 during her bye run as a warm-up for Jesse Wilson’s no-nonsense 2015 Camaro in the finals. Though she cut a killer light (.016), Haley’s Camaro was off pace and not able to keep up with Wilson who went a 10.12 at 130 for the win.
Camren Massengale’s ascent throughout the weekend in Wiseco Real Street was meteoric. The C5 started clicking off 4.8s like it couldn’t do anything else, going 4.84 against Isaac Reed and then 4.88 against Roger Allen to advance to the quarterfinals. The bad news is that he would have to go through Jessie Coulter, the top qualifier and class record holder, who had a bye run and then took out Ron Belcher in the semis. Coulter’s third-gen went 4.72 at 152 mph while Belcher red-lit. When Massengale’s C5 rolled through the beams againster Coulter, the race was over and Jessie had a spot in the finals. Facing him – Nicholas McGrath in the ‘87 Mustang. The turbo Fox beat Cliff Leblanc in the ‘99 Trans Am, Fran Schatz in the ‘07 Corvette, and had a bye in the quarterfinals. It was a long drive back to Joliet, IL though when he red-lit against Coulter, who made the short trip across town with some fresh hardware. Once again, the hometown hero takes the gold in what would have otherwise been an extremely tight race (4.74 to 4.75).
The ½-mile turned ⅛-mile LSXperts C5 was the unique story in Nitro Drag Radial. Only a few passes were made along with the converter and rearend gear swap in preparation for LS Fest. Then, after breaking an input shaft during qualifying, Charlie Hill bounced back and ran a string of 4.9s and 5.0s. Luck was on his side as his first three competitors broke during eliminations, leading up to the finals. His competitor was the number two qualifier Anthony Manna. Atalanta versus Chicago. The ‘98 Camaro of Manna dispatched Josh Shumway and Ryan Magee (in addition to taking a bye run), running 4.56, 4.53 and 4.55 in the process. After TJ Bailey dump his holy water on the track and prayed to the track gods, we had an even match of hotshoes – Manna cutting a .081 light and Hill at .092. The C5 was no match for the incumbent champion, who ran 4.62 at 176 to pull away from Hill who was on the C5’s fastest pass yet (4.91 at 150) and not at all disappointed in its showing.
Since autocross finished up yesterday, it was replaced by the Super Chevy Baer 3S Challenge. The event is still about handling, but it’s much more than that. Competitors have to line up at a Christmas tree, launch the car, pour through a sweeper, hit a chicane and then come to a complete stop in the designated stop box as quickly as possible. Stop out side the box or hit a cone in the process and your run is immediately disqualified.
Powered by a blown LSX454--with a little nitrous for extra insurance--this Syclone was psycho and one of our favorite autocross and 3S competitors of the competition.
While you’d be forgiven for thinking that ultimately the top autocrossers would easily lead the field in the 3S Challenge, you’d be wrong. A huge part of the event comes down to launching the car off the line and getting it roughly 400 feet as quickly as possible for the first left- or right-hander, depending on what lane you are in. This brings a much more dynamic aspect to the event and helped shake up the status quo when it comes to all things handling.
One of our favorite competitors was piloting an LS-swapped GMC Syclone and gave the big guys a run for their money. Thanks to its all-wheel drive, it was a rocket off the line. Paired with a bigger pair of binders from Baer, it was easily capable of low-12 second laps. Unfortunately, that was just outside the 11-second range that the top dogs were coming in at. However, considering it’s a mid-‘90s truck, it was a tough competitor. It also had the fastest Grand Champion quarter-mile time of the event turning in a 10.43.
This C7 from JDP Motorsports was on pace and in the hunt for the 3S Challenge win throughout the event.
Another honorable mention are the guys over at JDP. Their C7Z, affectionately christened Bernice, consistently turned in high-11-second passes. While you may expect that from such a capable car from the factory, the fact of the matter was that a ZL1 1LE was consistently turning in 12.3-second time slips. The car was on par with some of the fastest cars of the day and was pretty easy on the eyes as well.
Rich Wilhoff (yellow C6) and Danny Popp (blue C5) duked it out all day. But when it came down to it, Wilhoff walked away with the hardware.
Top rights, however, went to some names you may recognize. Rich Wilhoff, in his C6 Corvette,—which you may remember from his top 5 autocross win yesterday—laid down the fastest time we personally witnessed with an 11.159. Danny Popp was hot on his heels laying down some low-11 second passes of his own. Wilhoff seemed to have the advantage on the launch though and would go on to take first place in the 3S Challenge. And though Wilhoff won the battle, the war for Grand Champion was on with Popp scoring second place and thus earning him points for the ultimate bragging rights for the event.
The title of Grand Champion is awarded every year to the fastest cumulative competitor in three separate events. Each participant must compete in autocross, the 3S Challenge, and drag racing. The competitor that is, on average, the fastest after completing all of these events is given the title of Grand Champion—which comes along with some heft hardware and a check for $1,000.
Danny Popp kept his eye on the prize, even when he lost the battle for the 3S Challenge. Fortunately, his win in autocross and quick drag strip pass enabled him to take the overall win.
Throughout the weekend, the battle seemed to be between Rich Wilhoff, Danny Popp, and Mike Dusold. As we mentioned in our previous coverage of LS Fest, Dusold had problems throughout the weekend and wasn’t as in the fray as he typically is. With Dusold out of the picture, Wilhoff and Popp were left to trade volleys throughout the weekend.
And while Wilhoff took first place in the autocross top 5 shootout, the final overall win in the category would eventually go to Popp, giving him the maximum amount of points possible for the event. After taking second place to Wilhoff in the 3S Challenge, the battle two came down to the drag strip.
Danny Popp collects his massive Grand Champion trophy along with a check for $1,000.
Both put in a valiant effort in an arena that neither car was purpose-built for but the battle would eventually see Popp coming out on top and clenching the win for Grand Champion. Popp is no stranger to the Grand Champion title, having won it several times at past LS Fest. We’re sure we’ll see him next year and possibly at LS Fest West where he could square off against a renewed attack from the Dusold camp.
We brought you the results of the LSX Magazine Stock Bottom End Dyno Shootout yesterday, but you may be wondering what kind of power numbers the rest of LS-fandom was capable of making. Well, we’ve got those results for you too. Coming in third place with 1,030.18 horsepower was Charles Chaplin with his fox body Mustang. In second was Brian Tooley—yes, that Brian Tooley—laying down 1,255.5 horsepower in his 2009 Corvette. But the top recorded power of the weekend went to Jesse Coulter in his 2000 Corvette.
Needless to say, Corvettes dominated the weekend showing LSfans how it’s done in the process.
Until Next Time
We had an awesome time meeting our fans this weekend and watching LS-power flex its muscle in every arena possible. And while we are sad to be leaving, we’re comforted by the fact that LS Fest West is only 235 days away.
Demonstrating the wide variety of cars vying for number one, we had a 2017 ZL1 1LE, a '66 Chevelle, and the DSE IROC all competing back to back. It's a great time to be a car fan.
The full results of all the LS Fest ongoing will available next Wednesday if you care to see the numbers on how everything shook out. Over the next couple of months, you can expect to see some of the cars you’ve seen here and many more in full features. We’ve got some special cars coming up for you so keep it right here, and to quote one of our favorite T-shirts of the weekend “LS or die.”