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The Show Must Go On—Neither COVID-19 nor rain could dampen the festive activities of LS Fest 2020


By Michael Galimi
Photos Courtesy of Holley

It is a movement built around an engine platform and for the last 11 years the biggest celebration for it has been the Holley LS Fest. The annual shindig pulls in LS enthusiasts from across the country and Beech Bend Raceway’s side-by-side racetracks offer non-stop action. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic dampened the mood slightly with local restrictions in place, but ultimately it was the rain that kept the event from going off in its entirety.

This year the NMCA Muscle Car Nationals came in to operate the drag racing segment and it was a busy, rain-shortened affair for the 550 tech cards that were sold out. The racers efficiently worked through three days of testing and qualifying. However, they eventually watched Mother Nature prematurely end Sunday’s eliminations. The Grand Champion competition, Autocross, 3S Challenge, and The Tuning School/Hoonigan Burnout Contest managed to complete their schedule of events and crown champions, even with a little precipitation slowing things down a bit.

Sit back and enjoy the highlights of the global phenomenon known as Holley LS Fest.

A variety of drag race categories are hosted at LS Fest including Frankenstein Late Model Heads Up, Holley EFI COPO Camaro Battle, Monster Clutch Stick Shift/Banger, Brian Tooley Racing Stock Block Shootout, Super Shops Grudge Test and Tune, Current Performance Wiring Street King (Index), TorqStorm Superchargers Rumble (Index), Texas Speed and Performance 10.5 Warrior (Index), Cam Motion True Street, and RPM Transmissions 10K No Time.

One of the biggest and wildest competitions of the weekend is The Tuning School/Hoonigan Burnout Contest, which is modeled after the Australian-style burnouts and takes up the entire circle track. Please note the glowing exhaust under Cleetus McFarland’s cop car burnout machine.

A unique competition, the Grand Champion class combines autocross, drag racing, and 3S challenge course—forcing vehicles to perform under a multitude disciplines. We loved the Truck class winner, a 1970 Chevy Blazer. Jason Brady accumulated 247 points to capture the category win with his old-school iron. The Corvettes dominated the other categories with Eric Flemming winning Late-Model with his 2006 Chevy Corvette. Josh Leisinger and his 1964 Corvette walked away with the Vintage title.

Jason Mangum, one of the founders of Texas Speed and Performance, brought the company’s 2010 Camaro to LS Fest and entered Late Model Heads Up. He qualified fourth with a 6.23 at 132 mph, but competed for the class win due to Sunday’s rainout.

The LS Fest celebrates the engine platform, so swapped vehicles are encouraged and the event attracts all makes and models, including this crazy turbocharged LS-powered Honda S2000.

One of the most popular drag categories is the Grudge Racing Test and Tune, allowing any LS-swapped vehicle a chance to have fun on the drag strip. It attracted everything from stockish vehicles to extreme 275 radial grudge cars like this turbocharged Fox Mustang.

The 3S challenge tests three critical vehicle functions—speed, stop, and steering. Holley/FM3 officials create dual courses, a right and left side, and competitors must run both as their times are averaged together and ranked. The 3S challenge course is a standalone competition and is also one of the disciplines included in the prestigious Grand Champion category.

Jon Coleman’s 2003 Mustang GT, out of DBR High Performance, features a twin-turbocharged LS engine and more creature comforts than cars with half its power. The car is a legit mid-7-second performer and it still retains air conditioning and a booming stereo system. Coleman topped Super Street Small-Block Power Adder during last year’s Hot Rod Drag Week with a 7.68 at 185mph average, proving its legitimacy on the street and track.

Josh Leisinger’s 1964 Corvette dominated the Grand Champion category by accumulated 299 points, taking the Vintage class win and accumulating the most points overall.

Justin May brought his gnarly True Street machine to LS Fest and it is a legit 7-second ride, scoring multiple wins in NMCA competition over the years. Under the hood of the Third-Gen Firebird sits a Performance Technology built 400ci LS engine that is based on a Dart LS Next engine block. It was filled with JE pistons, a Callies crank, Callies rods, then topped with a set of Frankenstein LS7 cylinder heads. The chassis features an SFI 25.3 conversion, making it legal to run as quick as May wants to go.

Mike Galimi
Mike Galimi
Mike Galimi is the Director of Content & Marketing at ProMedia Publishing and Events with nearly 20 years of experience in motorsport writing and photography.