Gridlife South: Bringing The Noise To Road Atlanta
The Gridlife Experience

There is no event in the United States that I can compare Gridlife to, because it’s that unique. And everything about Gridlife South held at Road Atlanta, Georgia two weeks ago was new to me when I attended for the very first time.

The Gridlife formula is actually quite simple: Cars and music. As basic as it is though, there is so much to it. I really wanted to experience as much of the event as I could, so I pretty much took photos of everything I saw and tried to make the most of the opportunity.

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I saw Gridlife as a way to wind down from what was a very long month of Speedhunting. During August, I went from FD Seattle to GRC Atlantic City, then from Las Vegas to Reno for the BITD off-road race – all back-to-back. So Gridlife was something I was really looking forward to.

That didn’t mean there’d be no hunting of speed at Gridlife though. In fact, I did a lot of it, and managed to grab a few car features along the way as well. I was going to shoot Hert Eugene Jr.’s now rotary re-powered FC3S Mazda RX-7, but he ran into some minor issues. So instead of a teaser image of his car, I just included a photo of him squirting his water gun at me. I’m sure it’ll suffice for now.

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One reason I was really looking forward to Gridlife South was the great chance it provided me to finally shoot some cool race cars on track. I’ve been to Road Atlanta a number of times, but it’s always been for Formula Drift, meaning that I’ve only shot at Turn 10 and the Horseshoe/Keyhole. During the Gridlife Track Battle I was able to familiarize myself with the other parts of the track I’ve been yearning to shoot at.

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While Gridlife was all new to me, drifting, and especially Drift Atlanta, isn’t. It was nice to see all the familiar faces from the drifting paddock at the track.

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FD media goon Andy Laputka and his fellow Donut Media buddies were also present to capture the sideways action. I asked him to give me his best ‘Blue Steel’ for the above image. Please take a moment to fully appreciate that amazing socks and sandals combination.

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All the usual suspects, from the Drift Alliance bros. to the Falken Tire drivers and even the Voice of Drift were at Road Atlanta to hoon some cars. I made sure I got plenty of ride-alongs.

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The event was the first chance I’d had to take a good look at Rob ‘Chairslayer’ Parsons’ new livery. It really shows off his spirit animal.

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Along with the pros, there were countless amateurs running part of the FD layout as well.

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Some of the guys even continued their drift into a manji under the Turn 11 bridge and into 12. Quite scary.

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But not as scary as the ultra high speed drift entries into Turn 10 on Sunday.

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Aside from the drift and time attack activities, Gridlife also hosted a sub-event called HPDE for people who just wanted to drive their cars around the track.

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This made for non-stop track activities throughout the three days of Gridlife. Some of the HPDE vehicles were also some of the most interesting at the event, like the Radical SR3 which runs a Suzuki Hayabusa engine.

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Back on the time attack side of things, two of the cars that really stood out to me were an insanely fast DC2 Honda Integra and a 500hp Honda Odyssey. The Integra was outrunning all of its rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive competition while awesomely scraping around the track, giving me cool opportunities to catch sparks.

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Don’t worry, the weekend wasn’t as serious as the above images make it out to be.

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Shooting at the famous Esses was always something I’d really wanted to do at Road Atlanta. While it’s not Petit Le Mans, Gridlife proved to have some exciting time attack action on track, especially with the quick cars dancing and hopping between the curbs.

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Making my way up to Turn 3 was also a treat. The faster cars popped onto two wheels through here, providing some Speedhunters-worthy shots. I have to thank fellow photographer Camden Thrasher for tipping me off about this magical spot.

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I’m really starting to like time attack a lot more; you get a lot of the action a traditional race weekend provides, but without all the drama between teams. It’s so laid back, and even more so at an event like this one.

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The fans that show up to Gridlife are hard to describe. Everyone seemed so passionate about everything the event had to offer.

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Let’s play a game of ‘Guess That Car!’ Check your answer at the bottom of this post…

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I sat and watched for a bit as a guy worked on creating this art piece. There were several other ones around the track as well.

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How’s this for an awesome camping setup! I’m used to seeing these tents on top of Land Cruisers and Tacomas, but this WRX is a first.

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As night fell, things got a bit weird, but in a good way.

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Ludacris hit the stage on Saturday night, but even with my media credentials it was impossibly hard to get shots of his performance. It was mainly due to the thousands of people trying to get as close to the rapper/actor as possible.

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The morning after. Quiet please…

Part 2 of ‘Guess that Car!” Again, the answer will be in the bottom.

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Talk about throwback! I really love JTP’s old Falken Mustang, and can remember when he took it to a 2nd place finish in the 2011 Formula Drift championship, and also the crazy battles he had with Daigo Saigo the following year. It’s great that Falken Tire brings out their old cars so people can go for rides with the team pros at the wheel.

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Speaking of drift cars, one car I’d always wanted to ride shotgun in is Chris Forsberg’s 600hp Infiniti M35 four-seater drift car, dubbed La Flama Blanca. Now wrapped black, it’s La Flama Negra.

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Chris was flicking this thing and manji-ing it all over the place. Fun was had.

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Another car I was able to ride in was Falken’s S15, which has seen its fair share of competition. Odi Bakchis was doing the driving when I got this chase shot of Darren McNamara’s old S14.

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Dai offered me a ride in the Falken S14 while his mechanics were making adjustments to his S13, and it was crazy. I got an intense massage while sliding around at 80mph.

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Being the final day of the event, Sunday is usually more relaxed as people start packing up to make their way back home. I used part of the morning to walk around the campsites and look for cool cars that popped up, and was definitely not disappointed. On top of the WRX camper, I saw everything from an ’80s Toyota squad, to a zombie S550, to a nice VW Transporter.

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During Friday and Saturday at Gridlife the drifters are only allowed to hoon around Turns 10 and 11, but on Sunday the entire track is opened up for them.

I planted myself at the Esses to watch the action unfold.

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With the full track open, the guys enter Turn 10 at a much higher speed than they usually do. The usual initiating speed during FD competition is just under 100mph, but Gridlife on Sunday saw many hitting 120mph, and some even going faster.

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Being such a big event at a large facility there was a lot of stuff that I just didn’t get the chance to document at Gridlife South this year. On the flip side though, it just means that I’ll need to head back again next year to experience it all over again and see what else I can uncover. I’m definitely OK with that.

Louis Yio
louis@speedhunters.com
Instagram: lusciousy

Additional Photos by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto
larry@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
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First exoskeleton car is a Miata, second one is a DC2 Integra.

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26 comments

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1
ReallyForeverAlone

Fact: HPDE > drifting

2

different strokes for different folks. Just saying something is a fact doe not make it a fact, especially when you are talking about something so subjective as two different types of driving events. That would be like me saying: FACT: trucks>sedans.

3

FACT: trucks > sedans

4

it's a miata

5

Awesome photos! You should do a feature on Adam LZ's S13 Hatch, he's in the pic with Hert from Hoonigan.

6

i was right its a miata ^ ^ hint was at the back of it. very lucky guess hahahaha for me

7

Damn, I should have shown the other exo-car. I'll add it in as Part 2

8

If you have any questions or want to know more info about either of the Purple M-EXo-5 or the Mint X-Tegra, don't hesitate to shoot me an email, I'd be happy to speak with you.

9

Heeey~! I'm the corner worker in the picture holding the debris flag under the Harrah's bridge.

I also see a couple of photos from my corner that weekend. So I met Louis at some point and just didn't know who you were. My bad dude!

10

I actually never found out how to get down to where you were stationed. I ended up getting my shots from the end of the bridge, where the spectators were at.

11

Ah, that's a bummer! Just ask the workers next time. We're pretty good about letting photographers do their thing within reason.

At eleven there's a gate on the top of the hill there, was hidden by a portajohn for that event though.

12

hey what rims are on that sick Rx7 fd that thing look maaaaaad
amazing photos by the way

13

Work T7R 2P

14

You can hit up the guys from Top Garage on Facebook for more info on their RX-7.

15

I'm a bit disappointed because I thought I was going to see AdamLZ in this post!

16

this just gets better and better. can't wait for the part2

17
Sinh (Owner of the Purple Exo Miata)

This creation was a collaboration between my buddies at Krowrx and I. I had a vision of what I wanted to do with my newly purchased NB2 Miata. A week later, my daily driver was turned into a sunshine-only weekend car. If you guys have any questions or want more information on this ongoing build, do not hesitate to hit me up.

18

Louis Yio, Thank you for the feature of our Exo cars! Would love to do a shoot for a magazine feature! We have a few more projects about to be released! - Wes - Krowrx

19

I wish I had more time at Gridlife to do a full feature on the set. I was hanging out with the Donut guys while they were grabbing a few shots of the two in the paddock.

20

The Integra DC2 of James Houghton is incredibly fast and well driven but saying it out ran all of it's RWD and AWD competition is a little unfair on those that it didn't!

21

Hey Louis, what lens did you choose for your action shots? These are incredible!!

22

The long one is a 400 f2.8, mid is a 135 f2, wide is a 35 f1.4 or 17-40 f4. All Canon.

23

I was right second skeleton is Integra. Well Honda Engine hinted it.

24

Dat American Iron Cobra though...

This site needs more serious Mustangs.

25
Matthew Everingham

We need a Gridlife:AUS.

26

Nice to see a couple snaps of Canadian cars at this huge American event.

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