Imagine going to a car show with every type of vehicle imaginable. As you scan all the cars you notice that they all have one thing in common, the LS engine. This is LS Fest. This show was by far the largest all LS-based events to date, with over 1,800 registered vehicles on the grounds at the fabled Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The show just keeps gaining popularity and growing by leaps and bounds over previous events. 2019 was no different which included everything from stock vehicles to full blown customs and everything in between. There were a ton of cars to see on the drag strip, pits, road race, autocross, drifting, and even in the parking lot. As we made out way around Beech Bend Raceway, we were looking for some unique vehicles that stood out to us at LS Fest East 2019. Here is what we found.
Not Your Average NASTRUCK: Menards No. 88
The Menards No. 88 race truck is owned by Dempsey Anderson out of Fredricksburg Virginia. This LS-swapped truck was one of three that was raced in 2014. At the end of the season, it was given to Triad Racing who was responsible for building the team’s engines. When NASCAR went to a standardized engine system, they stopped making their powerplants and auctioned everything off.
Dempsey bought the truck directly from Triad Racing as a roller in June of 2017 and finished the project in February 2018. Since then, Dempsey has been fine-tuning the truck and taking it to events.
The No. 88 race truck now has an LS3 out of a 2010 Camaro. The engine has a set of milled and ported heads along with an F35 Texas Speed & Performance camshaft. The transmission is a TREMEC TR6060 with a custom-made driveshaft. The truck still has the original NASCAR gears in the rear end and was fully tuned with HP Tuners.
The Menards No. 88 truck was defiantly a head-turner at LS Fest, mainly because people don’t usually get to see them up close and personal. We loved that it was different and still maintained the Menards #88 livery. Check out Evolution Motorsport Engineering for more information on this build.
A Wild One: 1978 G20 Van
As soon as we saw this G20 van on a trailer pulling into LS Fest, we knew we had to track it down. Whenever you see a downpipe sticking out of what seems to be a stock 1980s van, something is going on. That was the case with this spectacular van.
The Chevrolet van is owned by Pete Johnson and Joe Ivans. It all started when Pete’s father bought the van as a donor vehicle to pull the motor for another car. After he pulled the engine and transmission, Pete’s father planned on scrapping it. But the guys had a better idea: since they had a bunch of spare LS parts laying around, Pete talked his dad out of it for a build. The entire project took about a month from start to finish.
The all-aluminum 5.3-liter engine that powers the G20 is out of a 2007 Avalanche. The 5.3 was freshened up and then the guys decided to add a turbocharger. The unit only makes 4 psi but is enough to propel this ’80s icon to a 13.09 in the 1/4-mile. For the rear end, a stock GM 12-bolt was used with welded spyder gears for “two tire fryer.” It was definitely one of the coolest vehicles there as people flocked to it all weekend. You can read more about the G20 van in our Top 5 Best Swaps Of LS Fest article.
At Your Service: Chevrolet Silverado Service Truck
Tom West had a full weight old body style (OBS) Chevrolet Silverado complete with a service bed. The Chevy looked like it came into LS Fest ready to help anyone who broke down and even had a working yellow safety light on top. Although it looked like a service truck, the slicks on the back said otherwise.
Under the hood of this workhorse was a built ProCharged LS engine. Upon further inspection, you could see a 200 shot of Nitrous Outlet power that pushed the 6,000-pound vehicle through the 1/4-mile with a time of 14.00 with only 4-pounds of boost due to a belt problem.
We loved this truck. It was different, insanely loud, and had a cool custom paint scheme that looked like it was straight out of the ’90s. The guys even used the vice on the rear bumper to assemble the nitrous solenoids that they installed at the show — talk about convenient.
Tom wanted to make sure and give the guys at Boost Addicts a shout out for all of the hard work on the truck.
If You Can’t Ram It, LS Swap It: 2004 Ram 1500
Dan Mason purchased this full-size Ram truck brand new in 2003. Over the years, Dan made a bunch of changes to the 4.7-liter engine that was in it but decided to “throw it in the garbage” and started building this LS-powered monster.
A few years later, the truck is now powered by a 6.2-liter LSA. The engine is equipped with ported LS3 heads, twin 76mm turbochargers, a Holley high-ram intake, and a turbo cam. For the driveline, Dan chose a built Turbo 400 transmission with a four-link setup backed by a Ford 9-inch rear end. This combination makes well over the 1,000 horsepower mark on E85.
Dan decided to remove some weight out of the truck since it weighed over 4,600-pounds — by removing anything and everything that wasn’t needed, Dan was able to get the hefty Ram down to a race weight of 3,525-pounds with him in it.
We love the fact that Dan custom-made a bed cover that has solar panels to keep the batteries charged. This truck is one of the coolest LS-swapped Rams we have ever seen.
Hold On… Is It A Holden?: Chevrolet SS
Bobby Miller had an LS-powered vehicle that looked like it came all the way from down under. Bobby’s Chevrolet SS was a four-door beast and was super clean. He did the entire Holden conversion to the car which even included the correct steering wheel.
The SS housed a 377 cubic-inch LS engine with a Brian Tooley Racing Stage-4 camshaft, Modern Airflow Dynamics ported heads, along with a Whipple supercharger, including a ported lower manifold. The SS still has a stock transmission and stock rear end even though it makes 820 horsepower to the rear tire.
Bobby was going to trailer the car to LS Fest, but the tow rig broke right before they left. In true gearhead fashion, he decided to drive the car 700 miles from Jacksonville, North Carolina to LS Fest.
We love the fact that this four-door family cruiser makes over 800 horsepower. We can also appreciate that Bobby was willing to drive the car over 1,400 miles for everyone to see at LS Fest.
The Green Machine: Mitsubishi 3000GT
Eric Englert from Indiana brought an LS-swapped 1992 Mitsubishi 3000GT to LS Fest. Eric had a 3000GT in college and loved the car so much that a few years later he bought another one. He has now owned the car for seven years and has performed some extensive modifications.
The 3000GT has an aluminum 5.3-liter LS with forged internals. Eric also added a massive 84mm turbo to the powerplant. Surprisingly, this combination utilizes a Powerglide transmission for gear changes.
Eric’s current combination in the 3000GT runs in the 10-second zone on the 1/4-mile. Eric has competed in Rocky Mountain Race Week and loves drag racing the import; he also takes the car to car shows and enjoys driving it on the street and going to different events.
Blue By You: Porsche 997
Ty Chavis’ 2007 Porsche Carrera S 997 drew a ton of attention at LS Fest this year. Everyone was blown away with how someone managed to fit an LS6 in the 997. The Mexico Blue Porsche is absolutely stunning in every aspect.
Ty decided to build the LS-powered Porsche after the second motor in the car let go after only 200 miles. According to Ty, fitting the LS in the 997 was relatively easy after he figured out what was needed. He had a custom adaptor plate built to mate the LS to the factory Porsche transmission. SPEC produced a custom flywheel along with a 997 stage-1 clutch kit. After getting the driveline sorted, Ty had custom motor mounts made to complete the install. He said the most challenging part of this swap was the wiring — he ended up having Wiring Specialties build a plug-and-play harness. This was a smart move because, in the end, he didn’t have to cut a single wire. All of the gauges and accessories still function as they should in the car.
This 997 was one of the cleanest LS swaps we have ever seen. If it weren’t for the difference in the exhaust tone, most people wouldn’t be able to tell that it was LS-swapped. This swap has been so popular with people that Ty has opened Chavis Performance Engineering and has begun LS-swapping 997’s and 911’s.
Colt Brist has a 2010 Camaro that he bought 63 days before the event. The Camaro was a wrecked flood car. As you can imagine, this roller was in pretty bad shape. One of Colt’s friends bet him $10 that he couldn’t get the Camaro done in time for LS Fest; always up for a challenge, Colt went to work and built the Camaro in just 45 days.
The Camaro still has the stock rear end. Colt decided to use a Turbo 350 transmission, a stock bottom end 5.3-liter with a cam, and twin 62mm turbos. The 3,450-pound Camaro has run a best of 10.08 at 130 mph in the 1/4-mile. During this pass, Colt was forced to lift as the car ran out of fuel at 27-pounds of boost.
We’re willing to bet that this project cost Colt way more than his $10 earnings from his friend.
BMF: Grand Sport C6 Corvette
Travis Ball, the owner of Ball Metal Fabrication (BMF), built a stunning 2012 Grand Sport Corvette. The C6 is powered by an LSX 396 with forged internals along with with a monstrous ProCharger F-1X making more than 1,300 horsepower to the wheels. The ‘Vette uses a 6L80 transmission built by Asylum Motorsports with a Performance Torque Converters (PTC) torque converter.
You have to see this car in person to appreciate how clean it is. Travis’ meticulous attention to detail is like an OCD that we have only witnessed with some of the professional car builders of the world. Stainless steel ARP Bolts are used throughout the entire build, even in areas where you can’t see them. Travis also shaved the Brian Tooley Racing Equalizer manifold and built custom ducting for the Corvette. You could stare at this car for an hour and never pick up on all of the details and changes that this C6 offers.
Hotrod Authority: ’29 Ford
Jeff Staam is the owner of this cool 1929 Ford Model A which was initially his grandfather’s car. Jeff yanked out the original engine and drivetrain and replaced it with a 376 Chevrolet Performance crate motor that makes 515 horsepower. At first glance, most people mistake this LS for a first-gen small-block Chevrolet. In fact, event staff came over to verify that this hot rod had an LS engine powering the car.
Armed with a TH400 transmission, a Ford 9-inch rear end, and a race weight of 2,360-pounds, the little Ford moves down the 1/4-mile just over the 10-second mark. Jeff is looking at doing a power adder soon and is leaning toward a nitrous system. We did our best to encourage him; it’s the right thing to do.
Jeff took his time with the little details, and it paid off because the ’29 looks like it’s straight out of the ’50s drag scene. We love the fact that the car has Mooneyes small block valve covers, electronic fuel injection, crazy headers, and of course an LS powerplant.
There were plenty of cars to choose from for this article, and we’re not even sure we saw all of them. If we missed something cool, let us know in the comments below. This show is a monster and if you haven’t ever been, you are definitely missing out on the greatest LS show of all time. We are already looking forward to LS Fest West and can’t wait to see what kind of crazy builds show up in Sin City. We hope to see you there.