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Gridlife Midwest 2019 - Truly the Best Yet

The sixth annual Gridlife Midwest Music and Motorsports Festival may have just been the best installment yet. Thanks to several continuing improvements, the premier automotive event in the region continues to outperform itself, even in the face of extreme weather conditions. It was yet another wild kick-off to the festival season in Michigan for both racers and music fans alike.

Background for the Unfamiliar -

Several Gridlife events take place in different areas of the country throughout the year, with the Gridlife Midwest installment being the most iconic.

Taking place at the beginning of each summer at Gingerman Speedway in South Haven, MI, some of the best drivers in the country and beyond compete in different categories of drift racing and time attack battles, while a curated selection of artists provide the soundtrack to the madness. Generally, the lineup consists of local and big-name electronic and hip hop artists who perform throughout the day and long into the night.

Some famous returning drivers returning to the track this year included Ryan Tuerck, who was driving a new Toyota Corolla Hatchback with 1000 Horsepower this year, as well as Vaughn Gittin Jr., who drives a Monster Energy Drink Mustang, and is my personal favorite driver to watch at the festival.

Meanwhile, a massive car show is on display, where drivers are able to show off their custom-built rides. Just about every make and model is lined up and down the grounds, making it a cornucopia of eye candy for automotive enthusiasts. All of this is rounded out by the different stages, where DJs and artists pump out sick beats and hot jams throughout the day.

As I’ve written before, this festival is unique to any other on the circuit, as the focus is predominantly on the motorsports and racing, whereas the music is more of a bonus, taking a backseat to the daily drift battles.

What’s New?

The biggest new addition this year was the installment of a classic arcade and console gaming lounge. After hosting different “GameNight” events in both Chicago and Los Angeles, the decision was made to bring the event to the festival this year. All games available were free to play.

The selection of games was excellent, both modern and old-school. Consoles available to play included the Nintendo Switch, which had games like Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart, while classic Super Nintendo games were also available. There were also full seat-and-steering-wheel setups for the new Forza game, which multiple players could compete in at one time. It proved to be the most popular through the weekend, as there were hardly ever any seats unfilled.

There was also a superb selection of arcade cabinets available to play. They ranged from the classics like Galaga and NBA Jam to other favorites like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mortal Kombat 4. Having the fourth game in the series available was a nice touch - in my own experience, arcades usually only have Mortal Kombat 1 or 2 on display, and rarely 3 or 4.

Improved Bus Stage

Last year, one of the features of Gridlife included a Silent Disco stage built out of an old school bus called the “GoodBus Stage.” This year, the bus had been fully upgraded, completed with a whole extra stage added to the top.

If you don’t know how a Silent Disco works, participants are given a pair of wireless headphones with multiple channels. Different DJ’s spin music into the channels (blue and green) without creating external noise, which is ideal for after-hours dancing.

The GoodBus is ran by the Chicago-based electro-funk duo GoodSex, who also performed on the main stage that Friday. Gridlife isn’t their only stop on the circuit - the GoodBus travels to multiple festivals far and wide, setting up their own renegade stage all over the country.

I briefly met the pair last year, who gave me an impromptu tour of the bus. This year, however, I was able to sit down after their set and have a full interview with Joe Domingo, one half of GoodSex, to find out the story behind the bus and the GoodSex philosophy.