Holley’s LS Fest is one of those events that attracts a plethora of really cool vehicles. Every corner of famed Beech Bend Raceway Park is covered with all kinds of LS-powered machines, and the drag racing portion of LS Fest has some unique rides. It’s impossible to cover all the extraordinary vehicles at LS Fest, but we have compiled a list of our five favorite drag racing machines from the event this year.
Wyatt Henry’s Twin Turbo Altered
Wyatt Henry has always been around nostalgia racing. Heck, he drove a nostalgia altered when he was just 14 years old. Henry’s current ride is known as the “Iron Mistress II”, which was inspired by the original Iron Mistress driven by his father.
“This car actually started life as a Top Alcohol Funny Car when it was built and raced by its first owner. My neighbor and Funny Car Chaos racer Dan Butherus built the chassis using a Mark Williams kit. It was originally built to run a blown big-block Chevy with an altered body. Eventually, he started racing it with a Funny Car body for a while. When Dan decided to go a different direction, he sold the chassis to me and that’s how all of this started,” Henry says.
The Iron Mistress II is powered by an LS2-based engine that features a 750 cfm blow-through carburetor from CSU, and a pair of 78mm turbos. A 1923 T-bucket body sits on the 125-inch wheelbase chassis. The Iron Mistress II weighs just 1,650 pounds with Henry in the seat, and the engine makes around 1,100 horsepower, so it’s a real handful to drive.
Four Doors Of Fun: Lexx Steen’s Twin Turbo 2009 G8 GT
Street cars that rip off 8-second passes are cool, but when you can do it with a total of four doors, that’s taking things to a new level. Lexx Steen’s ultra-clean 2009 G8 GT is deceiving…it looks and sounds like your typical modified street car, but when the car hits the track its true nature is revealed.
Steen wasn’t into cars until she met her husband, who had a few quick rides of his own. When Steen purchased the G8 it was bone stock, but that didn’t last long at all. The G8’s engine was soon wearing an LSA supercharger, and it ran a best time of 9.36 before a lifted head led to its demise. Steen went to Thompson Motorsports to have a nasty Dart-based 427 cubic-inch LS built for her sedan to replace the stock mill.
“People typically don’t have an idea of what the car is capable of, since you can’t see the turbos, and it’s really not that loud. It makes around 1,500 horsepower, and it has been 8.22 at 171 mph. The goal is to run in the 7-second range with the car. I drive it to Starbucks all the time, since it’s still a street car. It hurts people’s feelings even worse when the second set of doors passes them at the track,” Steen states.
Chris Hawkins’ Rowdy 1987 E30 BMW
The E30 BMW has classic European body lines and is just a good-looking car. The issue is the stock powerplant between the fenders is lacking. Chris Hawkins decided to solve the horsepower problem by sticking a healthy LS-based engine under the hood and feeding it a big dose of nitrous oxide for good measure.
Hawkins built his BMW to grudge and no-time race, so he really can’t provide many details about the engine package. It’s obvious when Hawkins fires the BMW up, though, that this isn’t your typical junkyard LS build…there are plenty of angry cubic inches at his disposal each time he mashes the loud pedal.
“My dad got me into cars and I eventually got a job working at Summit Racing in Georgia. I was into Hondas and imports before I drifted into the BMW scene. I found this car for sale as a rolling chassis. My friends helped me with this build and that made it a lot of fun. I hang out with people that are bad influences, so that’s how we ended up going LS with the car. Since I work for Summit, I get a discount on parts, which made it easy to go overboard. Ben Harris has done so much work with this car and has made it run so well,” Hawkins explains.
Big Wheels And Big Horsepower: Shane Speed’s 1971 Chevrolet Impala
Shane Speed likes to go fast. It’s in his name, actually. Growing up, Speed raced pedal bikes, dirt bikes, and eventually started racing cars when he got his driver’s license. Speed lives his life around the idea that anything with an engine should be modified to go faster.
The 1971 Impala that Speed pilots runs on 26-inch wheels and tires. To make the wheel package fit, Speed mini-tubbed the car, notched the frame, braced the frame, and upgraded the Impala’s suspension. Speed got into big-wheel racing because of the fun atmosphere at the events. According to Speed, once you get a big-wheel car sorted out, it drives better than most race cars at the track.
Speed’s Impala is powered by the first SML LS-based engine from Steve Morris Racing Engines. This isn’t your average LS, and Speed has big plans to show off what it can do.
“We’re testing this engine and reporting back to Steve what we find. He’s helping us out with tuning and track support if we need it. The engine makes over 3,000 horsepower on the dyno, and it’s nice to have all the horsepower you could ever want. We don’t have the engine turned up that much, because the hard tire we run could never put it down. This is a drag-and-drive event engine, and we plan on hitting a few events. We’re going to Sick Week and Drag Week on the big tires,” Speed explains.
BJ Sexton’s Wild Roots-Blown 1989 Pontiac Firebird
BJ Sexton grew up racing at Kil Kare Dragway in Ohio and actually watched his 1989 Firebird on the track when he was a teenager. The Pontiac was originally campaigned by Danny Rowe with a big nitrous engine under the hood. Eventually, the Firebird did some Mountain Motor Pro Stock racing, where it ran a best of 7.73 at 180 mph.
The Firebird sat in a barn for over 20 years untouched before Sexton found it for sale on RacingJunk. Sexton immediately recognized the car and knew he had to have it. Now, Sexton has taken things to a different level and races the Firebird in Competition Eliminator under the BB/AM classification. That meant he had to think way outside the box when it was time to come up with an engine combination.
“The car uses a stock iron 5.3-liter block with a stock stroke and bore. I added a set of TFS heads to help it breathe better with the blower. To make the supercharger work, I decided to use an intake from Speedmaster. The 14:71 supercharger that’s on the engine was used on an NHRA Top Fuel car that was allegedly run in Joe Amato’s car. Right now, this package is making around 1,500 horsepower and has been 5.03 in the 1/8-mile. The ultimate goal is to run around 7.00 at 195 mph when we get everything figured out,” Sexton says.