A looming threat of heavy rains and near 100° weather couldn’t hold back the droves of car enthusiasts from enjoying this year’s #GridLifeSouth event at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Unlike other top tier motorsport events hosted at Road Atlanta, the innovative crew from #GridLife bring a festival vibe to the track that seems like something out of a Fast & Furious movie, the good ones.
Over the course of the three days, a series of on-track races and showcases take place in addition to an autocross course in the infield and a wealth of attractions and musical performances keep the attendees busy all day. #GridLife’s main attraction is the drifting events that often feature a near 15-car drift tandem snaking through turns 10A-11 and the concert series that kicks off once the sun drops beyond the trees overlooking the final turns of Road Atlanta.
The paddock often serves to be the place to be for meeting a wealth of pure car enthusiasts. It’s a gold mine of modified cars like a wide-body Murcielago, an LS-swapped S13, a beater track Miata, or full carbon-body Datsun. You can tell how much growth #GridLife has undergone in the last few years, big car manufacturers such as Toyota pitched up quite the setup with demo cars as did Ford and their RTR team. Toyota had a full arsenal of TRD spec cars including a vibrantly colored Corolla Hatch sliding around the track, masterfully driven by professional driver Ryan Tuerck.
Contrasting the big manufactures, a variety of tuning companies, garages, and lifestyle brands also had a strong presence for the long weekend. Part of the allure one can find at #GridLife is the different cars, drivers of varying skill levels and big names of the automotive world that participate in the different events across the weekend. There’s never a shortage of entertainment. With the open paddock comes a new layer of excitement beyond just seeing the track-built cars roll by you into their respective garage workspace. #GridLife attendees can see first hand all the teams working on their cars and fine-tuning nearly everything to nail that perfect lap time of the weekend.
In addition to seeing the variety of cars in the paddock, the automotive festival also features a car show called the #GridLife Showcase. Located in the fan zone in the center of the track was a multitude of classic, modern, and collector’s item cars on display. Each car more unique than the last, there was no shortage of eye-catchers and quirky touches.
@thatmintyfreshmiata and his Arizona Tea-clad NA Miata stood out with a vibrant paint job, a stack of canned iced tea and massive rear wing. Not too far down the line were two mint-condition Honda Civics, a third-generation in red and a fourth-gen in white. Each sported fantastically retro wheels. Alongside many vendors, ATL JDM presented a fleet of Japanese Kei cars, most of which were for sale or owned by their customers. The remainder of the lot was not to be overlooked featuring a RX-7s, Mark IV Supras, Z cars and the odd Lancer Evolution, which looked to be pulled directly from Gran Turismo.
Speaking of video games, this year’s #GridLife South featured an arcade tent perched atop the inside of turns 10A and B. If the multitude of racing, car shows and concerts weren’t enough to fill the day, or perhaps the intense heat was overtaxing, the arcade was the place to be. Anything from Forza Motorsports to Spyhunter could be found here. The mix of modern and classic games was a sight to behold and checked all the boxes for a nostalgic video game trip. It’s not often one can play Frogger while cars hoon within earshot just down the hill.
Once the racing and drifting events end, #AfterGrid begins. On Friday and Saturday night, musicians and artists take over the stage set on the infield to perform. The nightlife-concert portion #GridLife is truly unique as it adds another energetic element of entertainment to the weekend experience. One can’t deny the thrill of it all. No matter your vehicular preference, stance or sport, drift or time attack, #GridLife is an event for all car enthusiasts to enjoy. As the saying goes “a bad day at the track is better than the best day at work,” or something like that…
What’s certain is the #GridLife festival is nothing short of a spectacle at the track.
Written by Kevin Barrett, TCM Photographer & Journalist