GRIDLIFE MidWest 2019 Wednesday/Thursday Update: Setup, Setup, and More Setup
FCP Euro is at Gingerman raceway for the GRIDLIFE MidWest Festival. There's drifting, time attack, concerts, wheel-to-wheel racing, and even Japanese-inspired Touge battles with Honda Civic Type-R TCRs. Here's everything you need to know about what the team is up to and where we'll be throughout the weekend.
Wednesday: Arrival and Setup at GingerMan Raceway
If you're not familiar with Gingerman Raceway, it's even more "homey" than Lime Rock Park. No real grandstands, no massive garages, just a natural landscape surrounded by farmland. It's the last place you'd think to find a Motorsports festival, which also makes it the absolute perfect place for one.
When we arrived at around 2pm on Wednesday, GingerMan greeted us with sunny, 60-degree skies, which was a welcome surprise after reading the forecast for rain and thunderstorms. It was ideal for an afternoon of setup. We were among the first to arrive, along with Tom O'Gorman, but more on him later.
Without the help of our partners Heinlein Racing Development (aside from truck driver Jerry), we were able to get the entire trailer and awning set up and ready for the weekend ahead. Because of the logistical challenges of GRIDLIFE and how many trucks, people, and booths there are, we had to adjust our setup some, and rather than take down the entire tent again we improvised with an old-fashioned barn raising, inching the awning back and forth with ten or so people walking with the truck as it changed position. Overall, it worked better than many of us anticipated, and we were able to finish the setup process. It also provided some hilarious-looking content for our partners at GRIDLIFE.
One very welcome surprise was shortly after showing up to the track, I happened to run into the owner of GingerMan Raceway and got a tour of his personal car collection. His house and garage overlook a small pond and the track—every car guy's dream. While it wasn't planned, it was great to casually chat with the owner (and builder back in 1995) about the history of the track and go through his car collection.
Since we're in the Midwest, it stays light well after 9PM here. That meant we had the opportunity to get our TCRs out on track for an impromptu photoshoot along with Tom O'Gorman's Honda Civic TCR, who we're running against in the GRIDLIFE TCR Touge Battle. As the sun set, Ethan Roy, Ben Marouski, Michael Roselli and I packed into the preferred vehicle of the FCP Euro Motorsports team (a rental Dodge Grand Caravan) for some car-to-car photography and rolling shots. The time, the weather, and the atmosphere couldn't have aligned better for what resulted in an amazing photoshoot. After that we finished the night with dinner at a local restaurant along with trying to fit twelve people in an AirBnB that was more than likely meant for less.
Thursday Morning: Setup Part Two
Thursday at GRIDLIFE was supposed to be easy. It was a late start, and with our truck, trailer, and paddock already in place, we in theory just had to show up.
Lol, that was not the case.
Just after leaving breakfast, we received a call that our awning had collapsed. With torrential thunderstorms taking place Wednesday night, our minds raced at the possibilities. Are the cars damaged? Is the truck damaged? Is the tent itself or the frame beneath it damaged? Do we even have a tent still?!? We weren't provided any other details than that, so the drive back to GingerMan was nerve wracking.
When we arrived, the sight was honestly worse than the actual outcome. Because we always take the necessary steps and precautions to secure the tent, the awning, the cars, and everything within it before we leave for the night, the supports of the awning somehow managed to land directly between the two TCRs with the only real damage being a cracked edge of the rear passenger window on the #72 and a side view mirror that needed to be reattached. In just a few short hours, Jess Raison, Ken Whiting, Nate Brown, Denis Ivanov and the rest of the team rallied together and were able to remove the twisted supports from atop the cars and get the everything set back up, almost like it never happened. Oh, and we did this all throughout more rain, mud, and wind.
Thursday Afternoon: Track Time
Thanks to the late sunset and the immense enthusiasm from all the event workers here in Michigan, we're able to run longer throughout the day, all the way until 8:40PM. Our own Ben Marouski is out in the "Dadmobile" Mini Cooper S, Nate Vincent is piloting the Project MK7 GTI, and Hurczyn is giving the 'ol C300 a go during the first round of GRIDLIFE Time Attack, all while the irreplaceable Gareth Foley maintains and repairs the fleet of race cars. In tomorrow's update, you can expect more details on the racing itself, the fan interaction, and of course, the overwhelmingly immense scale of the GRIDLIFE festival itself.