If you’re unfamiliar with Gridlife, picture in your mind a car show, a track day, drift sessions, and a music festival all smashed together in a weekend-long event. Simply put, they’re epic.
Gridlife’s big events are usually held in the United States’ Midwest and South, but this year the team made a bold move by hosting a festival at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado.
Most people associate Pikes Peak with the world famous hill climb that’s been contested here since 1916, and rightly so. However, it’s not the only motorsport venue in the area.
Pikes Peak International Raceway, around an hour’s drive from the PPIHC start line is home to more motorsport disciplines than you can shake a stick at, thanks largely to its passionate president (and fellow racer) Bob Boileau. In choosing a suitable location for a new Gridlife event, this facility was a no-brainer.How To Win Gridlife
I’d be experiencing Gridlife ‘Alpine Horizon’ alongside filmmaker and race car driver James Kirkham, who had borrowed some cars for the weekend. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Colorado crowd, but regardless of that we knew we’d be making some memories.
We had already planned to flog the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon and Chevrolet Camaro around the main asphalt circuit at PPIR, but also hoped to try them out on the rallycross track. Because Gridlife.
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Colorado numerous times, and its natural beauty always takes my breath away.
Once we arrived at the raceway, we found out that access to its 3.2-kilometer-long dirt stage had been granted. James didn’t have to be told twice…
Despite the Camaro being 100% stock, we were able to hit some reasonably sketchy speeds on the loose surface. After a few laps, James had run a best of 2 minutes and 48 seconds, which isn’t that bad considering a Ford Focus RS with all the rally-spec bells and whistles was only six seconds quicker.
While I neglected to time the G-Wagon, the focus was more about not tipping it over than trying to set a new lap record.
What really made the weekend was having the G-Wagon as a chase vehicle on track during the drift sessions.
Having blind faith in James’ driving is one thing, but being on two wheels and romping over curbs is a whole other story…Just The Usual Shenanigans
It’s moments like these, casually shooting door-to-door drifting and riding shotgun with three-time Formula Drift champion Chris Forsberg, that I count myself very lucky to be doing what I do on a daily basis.
And this time around I was even able to get in on the action myself. How did I fare against professional racing drivers from behind the wheel of a Sierra RX3 rallycross car in Gridlife Alpine Horizon’s Sierra Car Challenge?
We’ll delve deeper into that in another story, but I can tell you that it was a whole lot of fun.It Takes Two To Tango
Something I wasn’t expecting to see at the event, but was pleased I did, was Bob Boileau’s dual-driver Mazda Miata. Yes, you read that right, this crazy creation requires two drivers.
One person operates the wheel, while the other handles the pedals and shifting, all while racing against the clock on a combined rallycross/circuit course.
The rules were simple: Each two-driver team got two laps, with a break in between for a seat swap. The fastest combined time won.
What could possibly go wrong?
After much banter, numerous spins, and plenty of laughter, it was time to crown the winner.
I’m not going to say that this game was rigged, but Bob’s team won. I guess practice makes perfect.Analog
I have made it a habit (read: addiction) to carry some sort of film camera wherever I go these days.
My first camera was a film one that my father passed down to me, and I’ve been advancing ever since.
When I’m travelling by air I usually don’t carry much film due to the hassle of having the TSA hand check it when I board a flight, but I brought just enough to have some analog fun at Gridlife.
I packed three rolls for this trip: Kodak Ektar 100, Kodak ‘Walgreens Special’ 200, and Kodak Portra 800.
The two lower ISO films performed well during the daytime, and I was stoked to play with long exposures during the long night drifting sessions.
Right before sunset, we were blessed with a stunning shower that was worth getting a little wet to shoot in.
While the 100 and 200 ISO was fun to play with, dragging 1-second exposures on film is something I need to do more.Encore
As far as automotive events go, Gridlife should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Because gear-head or not, you couldn’t ask for a better weekend.