Prior to my arrival at Holley’s LS Fest this past weekend, I was pretty excited to go watch a bunch of drivers that I was familiar with. Even though I was anticipating a ton of good drivers at this event, I was curious to see how open-minded the Kentucky based LS crowd would react. Once I arrived in Bowling Green, Kentucky, I was immediately overwhelmed with the presence of LS powered cars like the Camaro and Corvette which seemingly taken over the entire city.
As soon as I entered the venue, I was blown away. There were an astounding number of people—about 20,000 spectators were spread across the vendor midway, spectator stands, drag strip, and autocross track. The even cooler part was seeing the diversity in chassis. I instantly noticed an LS powered Miata on the auto cross course and an LS powered Fox Body Mustang at the drag strip. On top of that the venue was filled with swapped pickup trucks including the red 70’s era Chevrolet truck with this amazingly clean engine swap. It was also nice running into a couple of our sponsors, Earl’s Performance Plumbing and Scoggin Dickey, out there. Overall, there was an awesome culture at the event since every car was powered by some variation of the Chevy LS motor and the chassis type was all but ignored under the common bond of the LS family engine.
The qualifying and competition rounds for drifting were all compacted into Saturday. Both Friday and Sunday were demo style days and were much more relaxing and low pressure on the drivers giving them more seat time than most other competition weekends. One of the more exciting moments of the weekend was finally being able to see Geoff Stoneback drift in person. I had heard a lot of hype surrounding his LS powered s14 and typed about him winning an event more often than not, but I had never gotten the chance to see him drift in person until this weekend. Just ahead of many other drivers there, Stoneback displayed a great ability in tandem, was extremely fast, and drove the course much deeper than many of the other drivers.
Another driver who really impressed me was Rapper Dan Savage in his Sikky s13.4 pickup truck. Many of you may not know this, but Savage has been Chelsea Denofa’s spotter for this season in Formula Drift. It is apparent that he has been able to translate a great amount of the experience into his driving on ProAm level. He has developed tremendously since the last time I saw him drive. The final between him and Stoneback could only be described as a Formula Drift quality run. The battle was close from entry to finish and without some minor corrections from Stoneback it surely would of taken to a OMT or gone the other way. It was some of the best drifting I have seen worldwide on a Pro Am level showing the future of Formula Drift to be bright with young talent.
Former Formula Drift drivers, Mike Skudlarek and Nick Thomas, were at the event. Sadly neither of them have campaigned in 2013 for FD but it was great seeing them out there and putting on a great show. Skudlarek is currently competing in the Midwest Drift Union ProAm series and appears to be a major contender in earning his pro license again at the end of the season.
I must confess, the most shocking part of this weekend was the amount of camaraderie and fun that existed between the car owners. No one was being heckled about driving an import even though we were on the grounds that Holley Performance built. This event overall was extremely laid back and a blast for the drivers, organizers, and fans (not your typical high-stress drift event).
If you would have told me five years ago that Holley Performance , the quintessential modified car parts company for American cars, would be throwing a drift event I would have quickly laughed in your face. Since 2008 the advent of big lightweight engines that can make cheap power has pushed most into the swap game for a big 6.2L or larger Chevrolet LS engine. Who would of thought marketing drifting as part of their festival for the LS engine would involve BMW and Nissan cars? A few years ago that probably wasn’t something anyone thought was possible but the guys at Holley have been quick to open their company doors to drifting and product development in the sport.
The one thing that I was pretty surprised about was that more drivers didn’t take advantage of this opportunity to compete. I am really hoping that more competitors will come out next year. It is a well-run event, an astounding amount of seat time, and an audience full of stunned and animated spectators. The guys at Midwest Drift Union did a phenomenal job executing a drift even on a professional level. I am already looking forward to next year.