LS Fest West 2019 – Drift Challenge Recap
For those who are drift fans, the name Nate Hamilton may ring a bell. Hamilton is a past FormulaDRIFT competitor who took several years off, which led to him launching 144 Racing. After some time, he decided to make his official comeback to drifting (you can see his comeback story here). Hamilton is based out of Dallas, TX and made the trek out to LS Fest West in his GM LSX powered s14 with a Dragon Slayer crank and a few other goodies. He also took this opportunity to test debut some new partnerships with Enkei Wheels and Accelera Tires.

This year, there were a few Canadian natives who made the journey to Las Vegas for the Drift Challenge. Zandara Kennedy is a driver who traveled from Vancouver, VC with her LS3 (L92 conversion) 350z. She’s boasting 507 hp with a BC stage 4 cam and tuned by Jeremy from FasterProms. Unfortunately, Kennedy faced many mechanical woes during the first two days of the event. On Friday, her fuel pump + pressure regulator failed. After her and her team diligently worked on fixing the car, she went on to snap two sets of axles on two different qualifying runs (not the kind of luck she was banking on in Vegas). However, she was able to end the weekend on a high note on the “Sunday Funday” portion of the drift event and took home a few prizes. Kennedy shares, “Even though it was a big event and I really didn’t know many people going into it, I felt really welcomed by the drifters, the drift event organizers – Nick and his whole crew, as well as the organizers from Holley, especially Blane. Just reinforces my belief that drifting has the best community around! I definitely plan to be back, both to LS Fest West as well as hopefully get a chance to check out LS Fest in Kentucky as well!”

The winner of the Lucas Oil Drift Challenge, FormulaDRIFT PRO driver Brandon Schmidt, left quite the impression on the crowd in his MastMotorsports RHS466 NA s13, which boasts 866 whp! Schmidt traveled from Lake Steven, WA and was his first time attending LS Fest West with his teammate Brody Goble. Schmidt’s crew chief, spotter, and builder is his dad, making drifting a family venture for them.

The 2019 Lucas Oil Drift Challenge podium: 1st = Brandon Schmidt (center) 2nd = Nate Hamilton (right) 3rd = Ian McDougall (left)  Photo by Larry Chen
Marcus Fry traveled to the event from Redwood City, CA with his Chevy Camaro with a fully built LS7 engine (12:1 compression and an 8500 rpm redline) which makes 805 hp and 692 tq at the crank. This impressive build has a full carbon exterior and uses a GForce GSR transmission.
Another LS Fest Regular, Joel Elhers came out to the event with his LS3 powered s13 with CNC ported heads, FAST Intake, and a Holley Performance Pro EFI ECU pushing the build to just over 500 hp. Elhers has a great attitude and at age 53 referred to himself as #grandpacandrift. He stated, “My awesome wife was happy to point out that I “choked” when it came time for qualifying.” Ehlers is in the process of building a drift Corvette – perhaps we will see him in that car next year!

It’s clear to see that the hype around this event is growing and with very good reason! Most drivers left the event saying they would return in 2020. The atmosphere is so fun that it’s easy to forget that there was a pretty serious competition wrapped into the middle of all the activities. Thank you to everyone at Holley Performance for putting on such a great event!


Holley LS Fest 

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