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This weekend’s Holley LS Fest kicked off on Friday afternoon following months of anticipation in the LS community, with several different different events for participants to take part in. Along with the Autocross, Speed Stop Challenge, Engine Swap Challenge, and the Show ‘n Shine was the featured drag racing portion of the event, taking place on the fabled Beech Bend Raceway Park quarter mile with classes aimed at LS-powered vehicles from mild to wild and of all levels of experience.
Rain showers on Friday morning followed by persistent drizzling throughout the day kept the drag strip mostly quiet, however, a break in the weather in the late afternoon allowed for racers to get in a few test hits prior to qualifying. Mark Koehler unloaded his radial-tired Trans Am and blasted to a 7.64 at 173 MPH to set the bar in Outlaw Drag Radial and Mark Carlyle drove his ’07 ZO6 to an 8.95-second lap, while may of the other competitors in the heads up and bracket classes got a handle on the racetrack. Ultimately, Mother Nature won out and Friday evenings scheduled first round of qualifying was washed out by rains that continued through the evening.
Outlaw Drag Radial
With a low number of entries in the Unlimited class, racers and officials made the call to combine it with Outlaw Drag Radial, making for a full field of cars. In Saturday afternoon’s first qualifier, Mark Koehler picked up where he left off on Friday, going low for the round with an 8.09 after slowing on the top end. Georgia’s Keith Berry and his Corvette wound up second with an 8.55 effort, and Texas’ Steven Fereday, who was one of the expected challengers to win it all, struggled to a 13-second lap.
In the second session, Koehler again made a big statement, charging to a 7.67 at 183 MPH to widen the gap between himself and the rest of the field. Fereday jumped up to the second spot with his pedaling 8.49 effort, while Ray Litz and his Trans Am stepped up with an 8.65. When qualifying culiminated on Sunday morning, it was Koehler who again cemented his place atop the class, running 7.55 at 189 MPH. Fereday too got a better handle on the track, inching his way closer to the mid 7′s with a 7.68.
In the opening round, Fereday bested Mark Carlyle, 8.23 to 8.79 to advance, while Adam Preston, Michael Meeks, and Koehler – who received a break single – all moved on. In the semi finals, Koehler received yet another break single as Meeks couldn’t make the call, while Steven Fereday’s LMR Trans Am defeated Preston, 7.99 to an 8.19, setting up a final round of the two top qualifiers and only two cars to run in the 7′s. In the money round, Fereday got the advantage out of the gate, but had little for Koehler, who grabbed the win with a 7.51 to a losing 7.93.
All Nitrous – Shut Your Face
The all nitrous Shut Your Face class came about following some heated internet trash talk last fall after the LSX Shootout in Memphis, and so the folks behind the LS Fest provided a venue to settle their differences out on the racetrack. After qualifying, Mike Kostick led the field into eliminations with his 8.12 effort from Saturday, followed by Robin Lawrence, Adam Preston, and Michael Meeks. In the first round, Meeks was unable to make the call, giving a single to Robin Lawrence who legged his Nova out to an 8.03 at 169 MPH for low ET of the round. Kostick bested Adam Preston in a great drag race, 8.15 to 8.30, set up a final round matchup with the venerable Uncle Robin. There, Lawrence and his bright yellow mount pedaled to a 8.31, which was more than enough to defeat the slowing Kostick and his 8.65.
Just two competitors entered the True 10.5 category, with Keith Berry and his wicked, Proline-powered, IRS Corvette leading the Trans Am of James Cordell in qualifying by more than a second, with an 8.55 at 161 MPH to Cordell’s 9.85. With the trophy on the line, Berry walked way with the title, running his best lap of the weekend with an 8.47 to Cordells’ trailing 9.86.
School of Automotive Machinists owner and founder Jud Massengill was the lone entrant in the high-winding All Motor category, automatically earning the win and all that goes along with it. Jud brought the car to the line earlier in the weekend, making a couple of high 8-second passes. Taking his single in the final for the win, Massengill launched hard out of the gate but began to drift toward the centerline as he rowed through the gears, lifting and coasting through the finish.
Matt Lawrence drove his slick ‘Vette to the top qualifying spot in the Corvette Shootout class, running a best of 9.30 at 142 MPH in Sunday morning’s final qualifying session that gave him a nearly half a second advantage over #2 qualifier Rodney Massengale and his 9.73. Mike Tooley and Brian Nutter rounded out the class, with a 10.51 and 12.53, respectively. In a big upset in the opening round, Tooley, who qualified more than second off the pace of class leader Lawrence, advanced when Lawrence’s car developed a leak just prior to staging and was pushed off, giving Tooley a 10.406-second break single. In the other half of the semifinals, Massengale overcame a late reaction time to easily handle Brian Nutters’ 12.58 with a stout 9.65 pass.
Jon Ebert and his Lingenfelter Performance 2010 Camaro led qualifying by a sizable margin over competitors Allan Miller and Steven Fereday – his 9.70 almost three seconds quicker than second place Millers’ 12.51. But everyone knew the LMR Camaro of Fereday was no pushover, and had something for Ebert. In round one, Ebert received the bye into the final, where he ran another nice lap at 9.78 and 146 MPH. In the other half of the semifinal, Fereday stepped way up for qualifying to defeat Miller, 10.31 to 11.26.
In the final round, following the burnouts by both racers, Fereday’s Camaro encountered problems under the hood and Ebert showed great sportsmanship by giving the LMR crew time to get the car running. But once the tree fell, Ebert was never headed, running a slowing 11.648 to Fereday’s popping and spitting 15.71.