Holley's LS Fest is a celebration of LS swapping the world, with drifting, racing, and show and shine components. Sure there are plenty of vehicles with factory-installed General Motors LS series V8 motors, but the real stars are vehicles that have had this compact powerhouse transplanted into them. Josh Leisinger's purpose-built 1964 Chevy Corvette has LS power making it go, of course, and Wilwood brakes handle the stopping.
The West Coast event took place in Las Vegas, April 23-25. If you are East of the Mississippi, you can plan on hitting LS Fest in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on September 10-12th.
LS Fest West Grand Champion Competition
The Grand Champion of LS Fest must be quick in a straight line, fast and precise around the autocross course, and able to stop on the proverbial dime. There are three classes: Truck (pickups and SUVs, excluding El Camino & Ranchero), Late Model (model year 1990 and above), and Vintage. Leisinger's 1964 Corvette is the latter, though under the skin, there is not much left from 1964.
The Crusher II Corvette is built on a tube frame chassis by Cale Kerns Hot Rods. The entire front end is reportedly based on Howe Stock Car suspension, and the car weighs not much more than 2500lbs. The motor is an LSX built by Johnson Racing, but the exact size and power have not been shared with the public; like Bentley in the days of old, it is "adequate."
Josh was putting down high 10 second quarter miles times in the drag race portion of the competition at about 135 mph. He was the quickest and the fastest of the Grand Champion cars, including the newer, more aerodynamic Late Model class.
Josh came in first in the Vintage class at the autocross event and narrowly missed being the quickest overall. The overall winner was in a specially prepared 21st-century Corvette, as was the third-fastest autocrosser, both running in the Late Model class.
The 3S Challenge (Speed, Stop, and Steering) combines parts of the drag race and autocross disciplines but adds a braking element. Two cars race head to head, accelerating toward a pylon, then they make a 180-degree hairpin, weave around several more pylons, and stop short in a "stop box." Here too, Josh came out on top, ahead of all the Vintage, Late Model, and Truck competitors, thanks to Wilwood brakes.
Here's a slideshow of some of the top cars at the autocross.
Besides the drag strip runs the Grand Champion drivers laid down, dozens of other competitors were just there to go fast in the quarter-mile. Many of these were dedicated drag cars with turbocharged, and in some cases, compound turbocharged big-inch LS motors. Some were just rough and tumble daily drivers, built by their drivers and driven to the events.
A few of the more exciting vehicles at the drag strip were a beat-up Chevy Luv pickup truck, a Datsun 280ZX, a Chevy Caprice Hearse, a compound turbo Pontiac Firebird, a Toyota 86 coupe, and a turbo LS-powered Subaru Outback wagon.
Drifting started in Japan, mostly with turbocharged JDM cars. When it came to America, many discovered swapping an LS V8 into their BMW, Toyota, or Nissan was an even better idea because of the copious torque. Here's a gallery of some of the cars that drifted by in a cloud of tire smoke in Las Vegas.
Show and Shine
Swapping an LS motor into a project (in most cases) is now as easy as rebuilding the original drivetrain. With a transplant of modern power, you will need modern braking, and that is where Wilwood comes in. We have off-the-shelf kits for tons of cars, even some pre-war, including models you wouldn't expect, like Packard, Buicks, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, MG, Triumph, Sunbeam, and AMC.
You can read a lot more about the LS Fest West and upcoming LS Fest on Holley's Motor Life Blog.
Images courtesy of Holley/LS Fest