“Lets just wait a few minutes it’ll pass over, then we should be okay to leave”.
Early on the morning of June 27th my brother Brad and I had awoken, blurry eyed and groggy, excited for the day ahead. The reason for the excitement was because we were driving to Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois for GridLife Chicago. See, GridLife is a group of events that have been taking the scene by storm this calendar year. Joining trackday, time attack, drift, as well as show and shine all into one event, GridLife has been a hit with car enthusiasts. Their event a Gingerman Raceway in Michigan was a huge success, so the second of the year in Chicagoland was set to be a great event.
Mother nature had other plans for the residents of northern Indiana on this late June day however. The most severe storm we had seen all year had struck our area very early in the morning. We were planning on leaving our home in Fort Wayne at 8am and making our way to the track for the event. Upon leaving, our plans changed. We couldn’t even make it out of our neighborhood in Brads Golf Mk2, the torrential downpour was too great for the little Volkswagen, so we had to abandon the mission and head back to base. That’s when I muttered the words at the top of the page. The storm had other ideas. After two hours, it hadn’t left our area. Getting fed up with sitting around, we decided to risk it and head out. We were immediately greeted with the problems caused by the storm. Downed trees, branches, power lines, all of these blocked our way on many of the streets we travel. Constant course change and backtracking wasn’t helping our progress.
After a good hour of traveling in the destruction caused in the wake of the severe storm the clouds broke, revealing a bright, nearly cloudless summer day. Almost immediately we were greeted by a Chevy Apache pickup truck. Not ones to pass up the opportunity, we capitalized and took some rolling shots of the classic pickup.
The rest of the drive was pleasant and uneventful. After about three and a half hours of travel we arrived at Autobahn Country Club. Brad and I busted out our cameras (he shooting on my Nikon digital, and I on my film Canon) and started firing away. Now, unlike the Michigan event, GridLife Chicago was a one day event. There were no tents, no musical acts, and no alcohol. Just cars, friends, and great weather. Along with the events happening on track, Fatlace and JDM Chicago were putting on an OFFSET Kings car show. Making this the third consecutive year that Brad and I had attended the show. This time, it was a little different, because if you got bored looking at the great show cars (which would be pretty hard to do), you could walk up to the fence surrounding the track, and watch drivers attacking or drifting their way around Autobahn’s south track.
JDM Chicago had their absolutely, drop-dead gorgeous KGC10 Hakosuka Skyline at the main entrance to the car show section. Almost standing guard and welcoming you to the event with its quad headlights and SSR Longchamps. We will never tire of seeing this car in person. It doesn’t change much from year to year, but it doesn’t need to. Its perfect.
Brad and I walked to the fence to see what was going on out on the track. The time attack classes had just finished up their morning sessions before we arrived due to rain delay. So the track day groups were out making their rounds. Vipers, Silvias, Supras, M3s, as well as the track day regualars like Mx-5s and S2000’s were out there jockeying for position. It was great to watch novice drivers improve their lines and their times lap to lap.
After each of the groups would finish their runs, the drift cars would be unleashed on Autobahns south loop. Guys from Chicagoland teams such as, ProceeD, Risky Devil, High Fade and many others were out there, ripping it up. Every time their sessions would begin, nearly everyone at the event would pile up against the fence like sardines, just to catch a glimpse of the cars sliding their way around the double apex right hander that made up the courses first corner.
A quick turn around, and on the grass behind the first corner was the Offset Kings show, full of some well put together show cars. There was literally something here for everyone at the event. An EK Civic and a couple FRS and BRZs garnered our attention as we walked our way down the rows of cars.
After an insanely delicious lunch at the Country Club’s concessions stand we walked over to the north course, picked a spot on the fence and watched a few of the Club’s paying members drive their cars. A couple guys were out there in formula Mazda open wheel cars, and a couple more were in the new Radical prototype car.
Much to Brad’s dismay however. I spotted my dream ride in the Offset Kings show. The BMW i8. Sitting on a set of Vossen wheels, this example of excellent engineering had me slack jawed for at least ten minutes. I poured over every detail, making sure I took it all in, just in case I don’t see one ever again. After much begging and pleading from Brad, I had to leave the Bimmer to its spot in the show and move on.
Speaking of BMW, there were plenty of them in every group out on track. Including the SR20DET powered E30 from Risky Devil in the drift group! Every generation of M3 was present too from the screaming E30 all the way to the F80. Impressivly, a Yas Marina blue M4 lapped the track all day, in every run group. Never missing a beat. BMW really made an impressive offering with that car.
Every once and a while Brad and I would take a stroll through the pits just to have a look at the machinery waiting for their next chance to tear it up on the track. It’s really something be able to get up and get a close look at the cars that you just saw out on course.
After the last session of the day ended. We packed up our things and made our way back to the Fort. Satisfied with the days hunting. Seriously, if you have the chance attend one of these events. You won’t be disappointed. Many, many thanks to GridLife, Fatlace, and JDM Chicago for putting on such an epic event!