Holley LS Fest 2016
Bowling Green, Kentucky. Home of the National Corvette Museum and Holley's massive annual LS Festival, featuring over 1,000 LS powered vehicles all competing for one title or another. From drag racing, cars shows, drifting, road racing, and many more events, Holley has covered damn near every aspect of the motorsports spectrum with this banging event. Entertaining over 10,000 spectators throughout the three days, two locations, and multiple events, this year was bigger than ever. The only unfortunate thing about this event, is that this year it happened to fall on the same weekend as Formula Drift: Texas. Of course this meant my crew and teammates at Enjuku Racing would be in Texas, meaning I would have no crew. Furthermore, all my friends and family had commitments....
Admittedly, I was a little apprehensive about going this one alone. I have done it before, but never like this. A 15 hour drive to Kentucky, a car with a brand new powerplant I'm hardly familiar with, a new track I've never seen before, and no crew chief to help me get faster or help me in case of a mechanical. The whole thing left me feeling a tad uneasy.
Fortunately, I found another team from Florida heading to LS Fest on Thursday, so I was able to caravan to Kentucky with them. Fifteen hours and four states later, we made it to Bowling Green. We did get to drive through Nashville (pictured above) which was pretty cool!
Friday morning, I got to NCM Motorsports bright and early to unload the car and get her teched and ready rock, with my first session starting at 9:30am. Since it was only a two day competition, there were no practice or qualifying sessions, which meant I needed to learn the track as smoothly and quickly as possible. It didn't help that Saturday's forecast called for rain, and most of my competitors were locals... Which led me to believe the fastest times of the weekend would be set on Friday morning. However, I had to put aside those thoughts and do what I could to learn the track, knowing that my fastest time certainly would come with comfort and familiarizing myself with the track.
My first impression on the track was that it was tight. It didn't seem to flow like the tracks that I have grown accustomed to driving. Leaving hardly any room for error (the whole track is lined with guard rails), it's a very busy track. Tons of shifting, tons of braking, multiple turns with more than 90 degrees of steering input, only one short straight away... Busy. Frankly, at first I wasn't fond of it. Perhaps because it was different? But by the end of the day it had grown on me.
As I grew more comfortable with the track and with my line, I began to shave a lot of time. Much to my surprise, I shaved enough to bump myself into 1st in class, and 2nd overall heading into Saturday. I was fortunate not have encountered any real issues with the car that day, however the car did develop a pretty nasty rattle at the end of the day.
Saturday morning, the clouds began to set in. The forecast still called for thunderstorms. The morning sessions looked like they might fend off the rain, so I got to the track early to try to diagnose the vibration. It turned out to be a broken exhaust bracket, causing the muffler to hit the "W" brace.
Throughout the day on Saturday I was able to continue to get faster each session until the rain finally came. Since Holley has been an awesome sponsor for the new build, I decided to throw my plates on and drive the race car over to the second location for LS Fest, Beach Bend Park and set the car up Holley's booth for a bit. Even though it was only six miles away, It was pretty cool to drive her on the street again. (Yes, she is registered, insured, and titled).
In the evening, I headed back to the race track for the awards ceremony, where I took home the win in class & and third fastest overall! I certainly had mixed emotions about going all that way with no help, but I learned a ton and it really paid off! Here's my winning lap: (Please excuse the exhaust rattle!)