WRITER | LISA BECKER CAMPBELL
Motorsports events and music festivals are ever-popular summer destinations. Those who have an affinity for both will enjoy an amped-up adventure in South Haven at #GRIDLIFE Midwest, May 30 – June 2. Billed as a “grassroots automotive experience,” this one-of-a-kind event celebrates all aspects of motorsports and music.
“GRIDLIFE is an awesome event that brings the worlds of cars, racing, and live performance-art together in one place where it has not been before,” according to Maribeth Jordan of GingerMan Raceway in South Haven.
“Everyone wins at GRIDLIFE. Drivers win in competitions, spectators win by viewing incredible driving, drifting, and great concerts, and GingerMan Raceway wins by hosting the social event of the season,” Jordan continued. “We look forward to this event each year because of the new people it brings.”
An amazing gathering of pros and special guests compete, share exhibitions, perform, and mingle with the festival goers. A few lucky visitors may even get to ride along with the pro drivers.
Tanner Foust, a dominant driver in rallycross, is one of the pros headlining Midwest GRIDLIFE 2019. Foust holds many championships as well as multiple world records for his breathtaking Hot Wheels Double Loop Dare, in which he navigates his car through a 66-foot circular track.
Foust has been joined in the past by pro drivers including Ryan Tuerck, an award-winning veteran of the US Formula Drift series, and Vaughn Gittin Jr., an iconic, most-winning figure in Formula Drift history. Drifting can be defined loosely as “ballet for cars,” for those unfamiliar with the term.
Justin Pawlak, whose 2019 season features his self-built ROUSH Performance Formula Drift Supercharged Mustang, and Chris Forsberg have also participated in the past. Forsberg has been described as one of the “winningest” drivers around and is renowned for earning both the 2009 Formula Drift champion and the 2009 Triple Crown Champion. (Editor’s note: at press deadline, not all of the 2019 participants had been confirmed. Go to #gridlife for this summer’s line-up.)
The weekend’s events also include the Track Battle Bracket series competition, which uses a new Time Attack driver format that pits the top drivers and machines in a head-to-head battle for supreme speed on the track. Returning after last year’s debut, GRIDLIFE Midwest is just one of six Track Battle rounds for 2019.
As part of the largest Time Attack competition in North America, new classes will join some of the fastest drivers and builds on US soil. Also, Wheel 2 Wheel returns with the single class Touring Car Battle.
The best-in-class beginner-friendly Track Day experience is back, delivering track time for all drivers, from first-timers to seasoned track rats. A dedicated instructor and several classroom sessions guide beginners through the HPDE (High-Performance Driving Event) program.
True to its roots, GRIDLIFE presents the GRIDLIFE Showcase, a diverse meet-style car show with incredible builds across all styles, makes, and models all weekend. Viewers can vote for their favorites in myriad categories, and awards are presented on Sunday.
Following the thrilling race days, multiple music stages feature EDM and national and regional artists on both Friday and Saturday nights. Past artists include Waka Flocka Flame, a chart-topping rapper and member of Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta, and Keys N Krates, a unique electronic group blending trap, grime, and hip hop.
Camping is available all weekend, including power hook-up and RV passes, VIP experiences, and new camping programs. There’s also a GameNight Arcade and Podcast Village. There are numerous options for camping, including trackside “glamping” spaces, family, and quiet camping areas in lovely South Haven.
GingerMan Raceway was the starting track for GRIDLIFE. The entrepreneur who established the festival, Chris Stewart, had dabbled in cars since 2002 when his second car was a modified Honda CRS. He held his first event, described as “a parking lot picnic for like-minded car enthusiasts,” in Grand Rapids. Following a rather rocky road, he eventually got into racing and held his fourth “Honda Meet” at the GingerMan Raceway. One year later, Honda Meet 5 was again held at the raceway — which by good fortune was on the Fourth of July — and drew over 1,000 spectators.
An ad man by day, Stewart recognized a motorsports entertainment niche: an all-inclusive event paired with a musical festival. And though both critics and financial obstacles challenged this idea, the stars aligned, and over 6,000 spectators and drivers attended 2017’s #GRIDLIFE Midwest. Today, the franchise also includes events in Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia.
For ticketing and event details, go to #GRIDLIFE.
#GRIDLIFE Midwest, @GRIDLIFEfest
61414 Phoenix Road
South Haven, MI 49090