The Epic Adventure of LS Fest East 2022
By AJ Huffines
Master Certified ASE
THE AUTO CHANNEL
AUTO CENTRAL - September 17, 2022: I recently returned from my trip to LS Fest East 2022 in Bowling Green KY. You can find all the in-depth details and pictures HERE. I will be giving you my hands-on, or should I say car-on, experience.
This was my 4th LS fest event, but my first competing in grand champion and my first time as media. I was easy to spot when I was reporting, nice high viz vest and my media badge. I was able to get close to the action, as safely as possible. I was treated quite nicely and felt special. As my buddy Borat says, “Wawaweewaa! Ooh lala! Oh well, King in the Castle, King in the Castle, I have a chair! Go do dis, go do dis, King in the Castle”.
On to the car on experience, brought to you by Bertha. This was my first time competing in the grand champion event. It consists of a little bit of everything including autocross, drag racing, 3S challenge, and track attack. Unfortunately, mainly due to weather, I was only able to do the autocross and my favorite event, drag racing. I knew going into the event I wouldn’t be able to pass tech due to my tires. I was still able to participate, but wouldn't acquire any points. That was perfectly fine with me, because I was just down there to have fun, and that's what it is all about. You're only allowed to run 200 treadwear tires or higher . My front tires passed, but my rear tires, being drag radials with 100 tread wear, not so much. If you're asking yourself what the heck is treadwear, it's basically how soft or hard the tire's tread is. The lower the number the softer the tread, more grip. Downside to that is tire life, the softer tread doesn’t last very long. The higher the tread wear, the harder the tread and longer tire life.
Bertha isn’t really set up for autocross. Hard tires up front, soft tires in rear, ceramic street brakes, and weighs as much as a truck. I figured what the heck, it's different from drag racing and it may be something I would enjoy. I was intimidated by the layout, which consists of cones that map out the track. Some pointing in certain directions to let you know that’s the way to go. My biggest concern was getting lost in the maze of cones. I noticed everyone walking around on the skid pad where the cones were laid out. I was informed by a fellow competitor that everyone was walking the course layout, planning their course of action. Every little move counts for tenths, or even hundredths of a second, which all add up at the end. Smooth is fast, and picking your line is very important. My first run was like Driving Miss Daisy, I took my time due to my main concern of getting lost on the course. My finish time was just shy of spectacular, lol.
After I got the nervous bugs out, I felt more comfortable and pushed the car harder. The front tires were not happy with this new plan of action, as they screamed all the way around the track. That’s when the street brakes showed their face as well. They didn’t have the bite to slow the car down before the turn. I did a lot better time-wise, and it was a boost of confidence. Maybe a little too much, I pushed the car even harder on the last run, and as I result I took the life of a poor innocent cone. It was fun, but I don’t know if autocross is my thing. Perhaps if the car was set up for it, but I enjoyed the next event more.
That’s right, drag racing! Something about pulling up to the tree, staging, and it's as if time stands still as you wait for the green light to launch. Feeling the car and all its power as you're pinned in the seat. Geeze this sounds like a sex novel, lol. You do get a certain awesome feeling as you suit up and put your helmet on. As if you were an astronaut prepping to be sent into space. I was only able to get 2 runs in, it was very packed this year. I was hunting a 10-second pass this year. My only concern was the Nitto drag radials being able to put the power down to the ground. They are nothing like my Mickey Thompson slicks, which unfortunately, were sitting back home in Louisville. Due to the awesome storage capacity of a Camaro, I was unable to bring them. My first run was the best of the two. They call me the axe man, due to my ability to chop the tree down, AKA have good reaction times. This of course is a pro tree, all 3 yellow lights light at once and it's on like Donkey Kong. As the green light illuminated, I poured the coal into her. Just as I thought she would do, she spun out of the hole. After that, I held on while the blower screamed as I picked up speed. I went through the traps with an ET of 11.15 @ 126 mph, then I had to slow this boat down to make the turn off. So close yet so far. Looked at my time slip and sure enough traction was an issue. It also lists your 1/8th mile time as well, which was a 7.29 @ 100 mph. Not that long ago, at our local 1/8th mile track, I was able to run a 7.08 @ 101 mph. So I know she will hit the 10’s, just not this time, unfortunately. My second run was slightly less than terrible. I dropped tire pressure in hopes of better traction, but it only made it worse. She spun horribly out of the hole, so bad it activated stability control and cut power for a split second. Ran a measly 11.5 @ 124 to end the night.
My last day there was spent walking around, there’s so much to see and take in. Tons of vendors that are full of information, and new innovating products. I got to see a bunch of very nice rides, meet some incredible people, and enjoyed the boneless pork chop sandwich (I highly recommend it). All and all it was a great time, and if you could sum it up in one picture, this last one would be it.