The Buick GS Nationals is the biggest and fastest Buick event in the world-and thanks to record-setting runs by Freeman (6.9) and TSO's Dave Fiscus (8.4), it definitely lived up to the billing!
The Nats are held every May in Bowling Green, Kentucky at Beech Bend Raceway Park. This is a quarter-mile, NHRA drag strip that offers paved pits, pit tent rental for race cars, grassy areas, covered spectator seating on both sides of the track, and much more, nestled into the rolling hills and green pastures of Kentucky. In the Buick community, there are several racing events, but the GS Nationals has kicked off the season for the past 28 years. Although it is only one week, testing and tuning happens every day of the year, because when the GS Nationals roll into BG for a week of racing and talking smack, it is time to step up or step back!
The schedule is generally test & tune Tuesday through Saturday, vendors and swap meet Tuesday through Saturday, gamblers racing Wednesday and Thursday, heads-up and Super 16 qualifying Friday & Saturday, car show on Friday, and finally, eliminations from Saturday noon until the kings are crowned! However, during the 2008 event some overcast, cool, rainy weather rolled in Wednesday evening and didn't clear up until late Thursday night. So Thursday racing was cancelled and Friday racing was bumped up three hours to begin at 11:00 am, which overlapped the car show. Everything went smoothly; however as a spectator, changes were made in the schedule which meant a very long day on Friday with the car show from 8 to 5 and racing from 11:00 to 8:30, which made for 13 hours of Buick excitement! In addition, Saturday's weather allowed the perfect setting for six hours of test & tune, qualifying and eliminations. Due to racing being cancelled on Thursday, it was the perfect time to work on cars, socialize with old and new friends, and speak to racers about their expectations for the final two days of testing, tuning, qualifying and eliminations.
The GS Nationals offer 20 race classes, including the Big Gun Shootout. However, there's much more than just racing: cruising around Beech Bend Raceway Park on a golf cart talking to racers, engine builders, tuners, and vendors; searching for hard-to-find NOS parts; shooting photos and gathering details about the photos captured. The Nats are worth one week of vacation, like a family reunion of old and new friends with one common interest, BUICK! At the end of the day, the Buick excitement doesn't stop, it migrates into the Bowling Green community via hotels, motels, restaurants, shopping, and cruising down local streets and highways. The sight of several Grand Nationals & Ts cruising around is the norm, and the droning sound of a turbo V-6 exhaust can be heard buzzing all over the city, like busy bees. Be careful, you might get stung and want one in your garage! This is an awesome event, so remember to mark May 12-16, 2009 on your calendar for the 29th Annual GS Nationals.
Another record fell when Dave...
Another record fell when Dave Fiscus shattered the previous TSO class record with a bullet run of 8.454 at 164.59 mph vs Chris Lyons who launched the front tires off the ground for 70 feet and bounced out to the eighth-mile!
TSA winner Clay Arnold's engine...
TSA winner Clay Arnold's engine bay. As long as it looks stock, there are four easy modifications: upgraded chip, tires, 2.5-inch exhaust, and the biggest 3-bolt turbo that can fit under the stock turbo shield. The rest is up to you and your budget, as long as it looks "stock appearing". The first year of this class has reached mid 11s during test & tune, could a roll bar be needed for lower ETs in 2009?
From left to right, here's...
From left to right, here's part of the record-setting Gallina/Freeman team: Jan Moeller (crew chief), John Gallina (owner), Len Freeman (driver).