Journal Presents: 2023 Buick GS Nationals

Buick GS Club of America (GSCA) members gathered in Bowling Green, Kentucky for the Buick GS Nationals, celebrating the brand’s history and drag racing culture. The event included drag racing, a car show, and comradery among fans of Buick’s torquey sedans. GSCA has been dedicated to restoring and racing Buicks for over forty years, pioneering the concept of F.A.S.T. racing with their impressive 455 Stage 1 engines. The event showcased a variety of Buick models, from the classic Skylark Gran Sport to the modern Regal Limited with a factory turbo-six. Participants like Herman Gross and Phil Roitman showcased their impressive Buick cars in the races.

If you’re among the Buick faithful, you know the history of the original Century, a car that offered a larger engine in a smaller body. From that point, Buick was known as building torquey, hard-charging sedans, a point not lost on members of the Buick GS Club of America (GSCA) as they descended upon Bowling Green, Kentucky for the Buick GS Nationals. From May 17-20, 2023, Buick fans got their fill of drag racing and car show fun, and comradery.

[All images courtesy of Patrick Briggs]

For forty-two years, the GSCA has been dedicated to restoring, upgrading, and racing America’s favorite upper-middle-class brand. In fact, if you’ve ever heard of F.A.S.T. racing (Factory-Stock, Stock-Appearing), it would not be incorrect to suggest the Buick folks were the ones who pioneered this concept, as 455 Stage 1s have been impressing strip rats for over 30 years already. Of course, it was around that time that Buick had perfected its 3.8 turbo-six, most famously installed in the Grand National but available in other Regal models 

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1978 Buick Riviera 75th Anniversary Edition

The GS Nationals started with test and tune at the racetrack, with a Gambler’s Race later in the day. Thursday was more testing and tuning before qualifying runs commencing. Friday began with a car show, then noon brought racing for all qualifying and Gambler’s racers. Can you guess what all-day Saturday was about?

When not racing, GSCA member Patrick Briggs was kind enough to take photos for us at the event, which shows a variety of Buicks in different states of tune. Suffice it to say Buick may not be on the tongue of every racer’s mouth, but these enthusiasts run as hard as the Chevy and Mopar folks — they simply have chosen to pick a different poison.

1965 Skylark Gran Sport, the first of the bunch.
1966 Skylark and 1967 GS 400
1967 GS 400 convertible
1987 Buick Regal Limited with a factory turbo-six.
1969 Riviera
This unusual 1970 GS Stage 1 was built with a four-speed, no AC, and no radio.
The above 1971 GS 455 is running with Stage 2 power.
1970 GSX racing the way God intended.
A festival vehicle from the 1975 Indy 500. The actual pace car was a Century.
Dave Hemker is a long-time Buick racer who’s been participating in Michigan’s Pure Stock Drags for two decades. This is a GSX-inspired 1970 GS.
Only 124 GSs were built with the GSX package in 1971.
Herman Gross brought this 455 Stage 2, with custom-built headers, which was originally run in a 1970s circle track car.
After 5 rounds, Phil Roitman won in the Buick/Stock Appearing class driving this 1973 Century Gran Sport. A total of 17 cars raced in that class.

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