How could you not want to wake up every morning with a grin on your face and some magical energy driving you forward? When you’re excited about doing something you can’t help but be awake. I mean, caffeine can only help so much when you’re stuck with tasks you’d rather not be assigned. I don’t know if it was a combination of being stoked or overtired but Gridlife had me firing on all cylinders. Every day of the weekend was just as fun as the last and now I’m left in the wake of it all. We had some late nights, and some really really early mornings, but it didn’t matter when things happened, the party was killer all weekend long at Gingerman Raceway.
One of the best decisions I made was meeting up with the Mild 2 Wild Racing Crew Wednesday night. After keeping an eye on the social media machine, Vince got wind that we could arrive even earlier than predicted for Thursday. Plans were then made to mission down at 4am. The first early morning. Problem was, beer doesn’t watch the clock. So after a 2 hour nap we were off to the Canada/US border.
We arrived at Gingerman Raceway just before noon and got to see it grow from a few trailers to the mayhem you see in the first photo. (Keep in mind that photo is only really showing you a third of the venue. There’s still the other half of the paddock and the super large camping area for spectators.) After a relaxing day by the trailer and terrorizing the closest Walmart, more Canadians joined our party. The racing team from Seven Automotive hung out and shared space with us for the weekend. A couple of badass Subarus are always welcome in the pits.
On Friday, the automotive festival known as Gridlife officially began. After running around and asking everyone I saw about the media meeting, I finally got a time and location. (After the weekend was over I found an email I missed that had all this information for me up front on Thursday, doh!) With pass in hand I began to tackle the event. The schedule was broken up between driver training sessions, Time Attack sessions, and Drift sessions each day. The track was hot with all that action from 9ish to 6ish every day. Once the sun set, the stage on top of the hill came alive with music, bass, and light shows. If any of you have played a forza horizon game, it was basically just like that (with less car crashes, 100% real life physics, the best possible graphics, and fully immersive world).
Last year I came for the drifting but this year I was a part of a kickass racing team. Being as Overdraft is M2W’s media sponsor I made sure to get some of the team hard at work. (Helping where I could). We also made friends with the track manager early on and were able to get the best possible treatment for a photoshoot. Finally, I would shoot a fully built racecar, on a race track. At the break of dawn of course, so waking up at 4:45am was mandatory. Boom. Check that item off the bucket list.
Being invested in a time attack team made the weekend that much better. I noticed the same thing at the last CSCS event I attended. In previous years, we would hang out and try our luck at some pan shots of the time attack cars but that’s kind of where the fun ended. This year, since I’ve been following the M2W fellas – and fellette (you’re welcome Amanda) around I get stoked when they do well (or distraught when a bad ground on the fuel pump causes issues).
Having your friends out there in the competition is exciting and just adds that extra level to an event like this. This of course carries over to the drifting side of things as well. We had some Canadians come down to shred again this year. Dylan Sharpe was letting it all hang loose in his S15. This car was quite possibly one of the best sounding cars at the track all weekend. Did someone order a smoke machine?
Jover and Mike came down to rep Garage Collective and the maple leaf flag as well. Mike was really getting comfortable in his S15 and was killing it at turn one. I got to overhear some cool comments coming from some Americans about his driving style and his car all weekend. Guess they were confused why a Canadian was driving like a Japanese drifter. Jover’s AE86 was also turning lots of heads all weekend and in my opinion, looks perfect sitting on his new set of Rota wheels. Pretty proud to be a Canadian with these drifters representing us at Gridlife.
The variety of cars at an event like this was to die for. This is the buffet of automotive culture. From the wildest track cars to VIP show cars, Gridlife had it all. In contrast to my only day there last year, the weather for the weekend was perfect. One day it was a bit hot to handle but I still managed to fall asleep for two hours during the day on the trailer floor. Over a latch, with no pillow. Also Vince brought a tv so what’s better than watching Deadpool in an air conditioned trailer in between your team’s time attack heats?
All the weird sleeping locations, messed up sleeping patterns, lack of caffeine, too much caffeine, in the end didn’t even matter. The whole weekend I was pumped. Regardless of all that, I was out there enjoying what I was doing – hanging out with good people, taking creative photos, and inhaling tire smoke and race fuel. It basically boils down to that one fact – I was doing something I loved doing ALL weekend. It was awesome, I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t realize how tired I actually was until I hit my bed early Monday morning.
Gridlife is a collection of car enthusiasts all hanging out, sharing a common passion and doing what they love. If you sit there and count the amount of money each race team spends on their car to run some laps, or a drifter spends on sets of tires they burn up, or a photographer on camera lenses and other equipment, it could seem silly from an outsider. But to us it doesn’t matter, money isn’t the be all, end all. If you’re doing something you love and enjoy it, it’s all worth it in the end. Why sit through each day of your life not doing what you love? As I get older this becomes more and more apparent. Work to live, don’t live to work. Don’t let opportunities pass you by, quit second guessing yourself, and do what you want to do now. It’s money well spent if you can’t stop thinking about it a week later. So what are you waiting for?