Evolution. Is the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form. Without evolution. We would be stuck in the same monotonous cycle. Without innovation and evolution. There can be no progress.
2016 was a big year for the Gridlife event circuit. Along with having more events on the schedule than ever before. They introduced a whole new event at a completely new venue for Gridlife. This time. They ventured down to the dirty south. More specifically, Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. With big crowds and plenty of action anticipated for the whole weekend, we knew that we couldn’t miss out. So Brad and I obtained media passes and prepared our gear for another exciting weekend on the grid.
Brad and I met up with our friend Chuck in Decatur, Indiana on the Wednesday night leading up to the event. Chuck has been instructing with various racing sanctioning bodies throughout the US and has been instructing with Gridlife for a while now. (You may have seen him appear on some of our more recent Vlogs.) So after loading up all of our gear in his tow rig and with plans to drive straight through the night. We set off on a nearly twelve hour drive with his WRX in tow.
After braving one of the worst severe storms to pass through our local area this year, and having to change out a blown trailer tire in a closed service station at 1:00am. We made it down to Braselton. The trip took a lot out of us. Once we reached the front gates of the track and could catch the faint roars of an Audi R8 GT3 testing out on the track, suddenly all of our energy had returned. We were ecstatic about what lay ahead for the rest of the weekend.
After we got our pit and all of our gear set up in the cold paddock. We decided to take a stroll and see what had arrived so far. Our pit neighbor had shown up with this clean, albeit out of focus DC3 Type R Integra. Where we’re from up in the midwest. Clean DC3’s are getting harder to find. If not impossible to come across, let alone the elusive Type R models. So to see a one this clean, and being used and abused for track duty was awesome.
A little while later. A semi truck/ car hauler showed up with all kinds of cars from the Chicagoland area strapped down to it. It was awesome to see all of the people who made the trip down from the Mid-West to attend the event. Not just drivers, show goers, media, and staff alike. All coming down to support the event that they have grown to love and appreciate. Some people (including us) had quite the haul getting down to Road Atlanta from their hometowns. So the massive contingent of northerners in attendance was a astonishing. After dark fell, we returned to our pit to try and eek out a couple hours of shut eye before all the festivities began early the next morning.
After a quick visit to the showers after awakening to a misty southern sunrise. I grabbed my gear and walked the paddock once more to see who had arrived overnight. Along with the new faces and cars, there was a constant stream of drivers/teams filing into the pits. Unloading their cars, setting up their equipment, and queuing up for technical inspections.
The wet light streaming through the trees made for an amazing backdrop for shooting the paddock this particular morning. Making this M3 look positively sinister with its LED lights piercing the black hole created by its exterior.
Devin Giles from Nine Lives Racing came down from Chicago with his turbo S2000 to try his hand at attacking Road Atlanta. He has been putting on some strong performances in his Track Modified class this year. Getting better and improving his position each time he’s come out for a Gridlife event. So we can’t wait to see what he can do in the future.
I also came across this odd looking BMW 2002 not a few pits down from where Devin had parked is Honda (there’s a segue in here I promise). After seeing round the circuit a few times. I approached the owner of the car in the hot pit before his next time attack session. I remarked about the massive flares and the 5 lug wheels and asked about what he had done to the car. He informed me that the BMW body is sitting atop a full AP1 S2000 chassis. F20C motor and all. A little, light-weight BMW body, sat atop a dynamic F-R chassis and with VTEC to boot? That’s a combo set to make the nearly 50 year old car a lethal track weapon. (See. Segue.)
My favorite thing about the Gridlife Time Attack competition is the variation of cars that you get out on track. Everything from old school German and Japanese metal. All the way to the newest track specials and supercars.
Opposite the BMW and the Datsun above. There were more contemporary machines. Tuned with aero, power, and suspension upgrades to allow them to cut up the track with scalpel like precision. No matter what your tastes, guaranteed there was something out on track during the weekend the would peak your interests. It’s the constant growth and progress that we’re seeing with the Gridlife series that really makes for a promising future for the car scene not just in the Mid-West, but the country as a whole. Hell, I even picked up a car that I plan on building to compete in the time attack classes as well. So the appeal for the younger generation is there.
If grip racing isn’t your cup of tea. Rest assured, all you had to do is wait. For at the end of each block of on track action, Gridlife would release the hounds. The whole 2.54 mile course would be turned to the drifters for all their tire destroying pleasure.
Grassroots and pro drivers alike turned up for the party. Guys like Simba from Team Proceed up in Chicago were sharing track space with fully built, Formula Drift machines. Driven by guys like Geoff Stoneback, Chris Forsberg, and Vaughn Gittin Jr.
With three, four, even five car tandems on the menu for the weekend. No one wanted to miss even a singe second of each drift session throughout the weekend. Saturday evening, for the last session. All of the cars in attendance that could make it out on track were released in quick succession. One after the other. Till the entire bowl of the Horseshoe was filled with smoke and you couldn’t even see who was going through anymore. It was one of the most ridiculous things I have ever laid eyes on at any sort of automotive event ever. Somewhere around 30 cars, all drifting the same section of track. At the same time. It was entertainment of the highest regard and is something I will never forget.
Also making the list of things that wont soon leave my memory was when select professional drifters were allowed to actually drift the ENTIRE circuit at the track to their hearts content. They were even given access to the hot pits to change tires on the fly so that they can get back out and do as many laps as possible. It was definitely interesting to see these guys up close, rushing to change tires with their crew so they can get back to sliding as soon as they could.
Enough about the on track festivities though. What really sets a Gridlife event apart from anything else in our current automotive landscape is the atmosphere. I’ve heard the event being compared to the legendary Gatebil Rudskogen. The two events are very similar in their makeup. They are both known for combining many different facets of the automotive culture. Then throw it all together at a track with musical garnish to spice things up.
While the music on offer really isn’t what I like to pump through my speakers at home, but I can say with complete confidence that the people who attended the event loved the fact that some well known artists came to cap off two nights of great performances. So where else can your day at the track end with a concert from Waka Flocka Flame? That’s right, nowhere.
What really makes Gridlife great though is the people. Not just the drivers and personalities on stage, but the people. The general population of the show is what makes it lively. People walking around, perusing the Southrnfresh car show. Visiting the vendors. Standing trackside. Without them, the event just wouldn’t be the same.
I enjoyed walking up the hill from the paddock up to the other parts of the course every singe time. It was never boring. A normally strenuous and boring walk was livened up by people on scooters. Chatting as the walked up and down, bombing the hill on skateboards (while holding a full pizza box). Or sitting on the back of a dirtbike, playing an electric guitar, through an amplifier strapped to the back of the bike.
It was never boring. Not once did I feel the need to go somewhere else. I was right where I wanted to be. Every time I would sit down in our pit to either take a break or grab something to eat. I would be overwhelmed by the need to grab my gear and get back out there. I felt like I was constantly missing something amazing and I had to go out to find it.
My only regret from the weekend was that I didn’t take any more pictures of the attendees of the event. The people whom made the event something that I will cherish as one of my favorite weekends spent at the track ever and I wasn’t even driving. I guess that I spent more time gaping in awe at what was happening in front of me, rather than looking through my viewfinder. Trying to get the shot.
If the evolution of the Gridlife events could be used to predict where we’ll be in the automotive scene here in the US in the next few years. I’d say we have a promising future ahead of us. I’ll have more coverage coming here soon from Gridlife South. For now, I’ll cut this article off to save you guys some reading. So here’s some more photos for your viewing pleasure.
You can view the full gallery of photos from the weekend ——->HERE