Gridlife South 2016 Coverage…Part 1…

Georgia is an interesting place. I mean that in the nicest way possible. It’s more of a “good” interesting than a “uhh, I’m not sure about this place” type of interesting. I’ve always wanted to go see what Georgia was like because I’ve always felt that the south has some of the nicest people around. I went to Nashville in 2009 for the Import Alliance event and Atlanta was just a 3 hour drive away, it almost seemed like a shame not to go, but I just didn’t have the time. A couple years go by and the only time I had ever touched down in Atlanta was for a short stopover on my flight back home after another event, in another city. Many car events had come and gone in that area and I had just never been, but I’ve always heard great things about that area so I was intrigued…

I met Chris Stewart last year when I was out in Chicago for a Gridlife/Fatlace event during the summer. Ginash had invited me to fly out to do some coverage and that was honestly the first time I had ever heard of the Gridlife series. Chris was a nice dude. We chatted and he told me more about his events and what his mission was. He had a very grassroots-style approach when it came to putting on automotive events and I liked that. I think we try to change things up too often out here in the West Coast because people are always trying to be on the cusp of the “next big thing” that we sometimes forget about what made things good in the first place. Chris wanted to create something new with the Gridlife series but in a much different way. He set out to join multiple styles of events together into one place and transform it into one big festival. I think it is difficult to combine so many different types of events together because there is so much divide out on this side of the country. People are very “clique-y” out here so the guys that stick to time attack hate on car show people, and car show people generally shy away from real road race guys because they don’t want to be shunned or turned away because they don’t have “functional” vehicles. Drifting is popular, but with a very specific crowd. People that like watching drifting but those guys could care less about time attack. It is cool to like what you like but very rarely do you see people blend all those things together. In other parts of the country, this model works. Other regions of the U.S. don’t have nearly as many events as we do out here in the West and having a conglomerate of events makes a lot of sense. You put all these different styles of events together and it gives people an opportunity to experience all of it at the same time. People from other neighboring states will come out for it and it becomes a huge melting pot of both people and car stuff…

Chris and I spoke on and off that day about his event and he invited me out to check out one of the events in 2016. We exchanged contact info but didn’t really communicate too much after that. During SEMA of 2015 some months later, I ran into Chris at an industry party. It was one of those nights when I didn’t really feel like drinking and was just enjoying the ambiance of the night. Chris came up to me and he told me about some big plans that he had for 2016…the biggest one being the Gridlife South event which would be the first time he put together an event at the famed Road Atlanta raceway. I had only seen Road Atlanta in video games and was excited to hear that he wanted to fly me out to experience the biggest Gridlife event to date. I told him that I wanted to try to get Yuta out there with me so he could drive at Road Atlanta and Chris was more than willing to accommodate us. Ultimately, we didn’t have a car completed in time for Gridlife but Yuta still flew out with me and Tiffanie to see what Gridlife was all about…

The weather that weekend was hot…like FUCKING HOT, haha. We knew about it going into the event so we weren’t surprised, but being in hell still feels like hell, you know what I mean? The humidity is no joke out there and good lord, bugs were plenty abundant in Braselton, Georgia. The set-up for the event was like this: Gridlife South is a three-day long event. The Road Atlanta track would be used for both time attack and full-course drifting, which had never been attempted before at Road Atlanta. That meant that guys could start as fast as they wanted to and drift as much of the track as they possibly could. This sounds like a harrowing experience but if you knew how to drive, it’s a whole lot of fucking fun. The areas of that track that weren’t directly driving-related, would be used for a car show, spectator camping, and a series of concerts that would take place in the evenings after the track went cold. It’s crazy for some of us to think that people are willing to camp out at Road Atlanta but there were definitely a ton of people just chillin’ out there all day and night throughout the weekend. As you saw in the Vlogs, we spent most of our time hanging out in the paddock area looking at the drift cars and time attack competitors. For most of the track stuff, I shot mostly only the drifting. The time attack stuff I captured but it was pretty sparse. There were some cool cars in the pits so I did a lot of shooting at some of the more important details of individual builds…

Overall, I had a great time. Sure, the weather was a bit intense but we went into it expecting to sweat our asses off. I like the idea of having a festival-type event where you get a little bit of everything. I don’t think the formula would work out here in the West Coast, but for the Midwest and the right side of the coast, it makes a great deal of sense. You get the most out of what you spend your money on, and making the far trek to experience the event is worth it because of all that you get to see. Chris has a good thing going and I’m happy to have been invited to see it for myself. There’s a huge risk in trying to put something this big together because it could be a disastrous if it isn’t executed correctly. This works andI hope to see its continued evolution in the future…

The first set of photos you’ll see is what I captured on the first two days while we were there. You’ll see some drifting stuff along with some shots of the cars in the paddock area. I was granted VIP access to every area of the event but I found myself driving around in my rental and just getting out of the car to shoot. It just worked out better that way. We captured a lot that weekend so get ready to see some pretty cool stuff. Enjoy…

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This Garage Moon Power PS13 was one of the first builds that really caught my eye that weekend and the owner was nice enough to allow us to get a thorough walkthrough of the entire car…

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The S13, owned by Philip Koch, is outfitted with a BN Sports aero kit and custom-fabricated aluminum rear wing. For Gridlife South, Koch had the front of his coupe on Blitz Type 03 wheels and WED’S Kranze Cerberus 1 in the rear…

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A better look at the custom rear trunk-mounted wing…

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The interior of Koch’s S14 with the flocked dash and Racepak display…

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Under the hood of the Garage Moon Power S13 is an RB-swap with Garrett turbocharger and HKS add-ons. You can see clear to the ground here because the wheel wells have been cut away for wheel clearance…

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This Z33 looked pretty interesting with the widebody panels, carbon front bumper and HRE wheels. Haven’t ever seen this kit before so I suspect it might be a custom kit…

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Brian Villaflor’s Voltex S2000 on bronze Volk Racing ZE40 wheels…

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Voltex rear wing and rear diffuser set-up….

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The factory F2oC engine features a Kraftwerks supercharger…

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Nice to see some of the guys from the Chicago-area making the trip out to Atlanta for Gridlife. Above is Simba Nyemba’s S13 from Team Proceed. I hadn’t seen this car since last year when I saw the car compete in the second Final Bout event in Wisconsin…

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This trio was definitely an interesting collective of vehicles. Two Supras and an S15, only one however, with the motor that the chassis was originally intended for….

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This JZA80 Supra was perhaps the craziest of the three…

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…as the engine that resided in its engine bay was anything but what you would expect in a Supra. What you’re looking at is actually a turbocharged Dodge Viper V10 swap…

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Odd to not see a 2JZ-GTE engine in the Supra but if you got the resources to do a wild swap like this, why not, right?…That and it’s pretty fucking cool…

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Being that the motor is the size that it is, and it’s not a traditional inline-6 like the 2JZ, the custom exhaust manifold runs-out towards the wheel well and the huge Precision turbo is mounted under the headlight by the intercooler end tank…

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The Viper-powered Supra is actually a right-hand drive A80 chassis but the entire interior has been gutted and caged…

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The S15 Silvia from Quick Style Motorsports wears a D-Max widebody aero kit and Work Emotion wheels…

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In the engine bay is a Toyota 2JZ-GTE swap that oddly looks like home inside the S15…

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Nothing wrong with a little burn…

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Nice to see that style is still alive and well at Gridlife South…

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Such a cool pairing of unique builds…

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The other Supra which had its front end facing the other way from the two was missing its Top Secret front bumper but belongs to Mike Prez from Speed Warhouse…

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Mike’s Supra still has a 2JZ-GTE engine in its bay but with a custom turbo manifold…

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I didn’t walk around the car show area since we mostly hung out in the paddock but I did catch a glimpse of Mike Sabounchi’s Subaru Legacy Wagon, which he actually trailered all the way out from California. He was supposed to drive at Gridlife but the engine had some issues and he didn’t want to risk making a bad situation worse by blowing it up. Instead, he parked it over at the Super Street magazine booth….

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The interior is pretty crazy with a full cage with thick gussets throughout…

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Check out these thick plates in the rear section of the wagon…

The rest of the photos are some action shots during the drifting phase of the event on the first two days…

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Simba Nyemba and his S13 from Proceed…

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Kevin Lawrence and his RB25-powered S14 from Enjuku Racing…

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Steve from Risky Devil and his Nissan SR20DET-powered E30 BMW coupe…

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Dylan Sharpe’s Toyota 2JZ-powered Nissan S15 Silvia…

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Dmiles and his S13 from Garage Moon Power…

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Vincent Moore Jr. from Top Garage and his beautiful S13…

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Ryan Tuerck was the top billed guests at Gridlife and he participated at the Gridlife event in his “street” Scion FR-S wearing Rocket Bunny V2 aero…

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I really wish I had shot more photos of Chris Ward’s FD from Top Garage…

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Chris Forberg was another guest at Gridlife and he provided ride-alongs during the drifting portion of the event in his VK56DE-powered Infiniti M45…

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Vaughn Gittin Jr and his Monster Energy Ford Mustang RTR…

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Proceed S13 and Quickstyle S15…

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Top Garage S14 sans rear bumper…

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A couple more of Simba’s 240SX, this time going mostly straight…

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I borrowed my friend Chris Sullivan’s 400mm 2.8L lens and it produced some crazy results. I shot this photo of Tiffanie and the depth of field was insane…

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More from Dylan Sharpe Racing and his 2JZ S15…

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Geoff Stoneback’s LS-powered S14 looked great shredding through Road Atlanta…

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Can’t see much of Stoneback’s S14 here but I really liked this shot…

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Proceed S13 as the sun set on Road Atlanta…

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Fish’s Rocket Bunny Boss S14 looked and sounded great out there with the new supercharger installed on the GM LS motor…

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More Vaughn Gittin Jr. and his Mustang…

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As well as Dylan Sharpe…

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After awhile I think I started getting used to shooting with the massive 400mm Canon lens and it made for some cool shots…

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A better look at the Risky Devil Boss S14…

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Monster Ford Mustang RTR…

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Dylan actually has a Toyota Verossa that he’s currently building and I’m interested to see how it turns out since it already comes as shot an odd-looking car from the factory…

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Stoneback and friends tearing through Road Atlanta…

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Always cool to see SR-powered non-Nissans like this E30 on Work Equip wheels…

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Too bad I missed out on Final Bout this year, especially with three events happening in the same year but at least I got to see some of the cars in action at Gridlife…

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Simba actually spun-out right here but it turned into a pretty cool shot…

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Caught Gittin Jr. and a ridealong friend having some fun…

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And I’m gonna stop Part 1 here for today. I got a ton more photos to show you guys along with a bunch of shots from Tiffanie as well who had her first opportunity to shoot an event like this. Stay tuned!..

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