GRIDLIFE 2017

I write this as I lay in bed, with some pretty crazy sunburn, tired as all hell from spending the last three blazing hot days at home at Gingerman Raceway for Gridlife’s annual Midwest Festival.

This year’s festival really was the best it’s ever been. Trackside, everything went relatively smooth, only one semi major hiccup put the track behind schedule all weekend. And off track, the show was truly amazing. 

Offtrack, the festival was the biggest and best I’ve ever seen. The car show was packed, the camping section in the back was another world, and the stage setup was MASSIVE. it literally looked like  a scene from Forza Horizon 3, but better because it was real life. 

The weeks leading up to this event were relatively tame. The Ramblers main focus for this event was finishing Mikey’s fit to drive in the SpecFit competition. He commissioned a friend to paint the entire with GridlifexRamblers flavored graffiti. It came out beautifully, especially with Dennis’s SBC RPF1’s.

During the last stages of finishing Mikey’s fit. I brought my car over to swap distributors and some shifter bushings. And we had a special guest come hang in the garage with us. A few months ago, Adam Jabaay let us know in the Ramblers chat that a guy from the UK was super stoked on coverage from last year’s Gridlife South festival and was planning on attending the Midwest festival in 2017. We were stoked to hear that Gridlife was receiving international recognition so we all made it a point to show him a good time. Richard Symons is one of the coolest dudes I ever met. He came to the garage to hang before the event, and it was like he’s been a homie for years. Hopped right in helping us time my motor/dizzy, told us rad stories from Europe and ate pizza with us. He made his first trip to the US to hang out with a bunch of car dorks in the middle of rural America. I’m happy he had a great time. He even drove around the track in Chris’s S2000 haha.

The hangs were perfect in the paddock this year. We were pitted right by our brothers from Brofunction and Twerk Team Racing, this made for some primo shenanigans. From nipple stickers to chugging beers out of a cone, this weekend was a blast. I can’t thank this hobby enough for introducing me to some of the best friends I’ve ever made in my life. Earlier this year, we surprised Brofunction with flags with our logos on them to fly at events. This weekend, they surprised us with these cups with our logos printed on them. I’m so grateful to call these guys my friends, there is never a dull moment with these homies.

I’m lucky enough to have hopped into Gridlife as a beginner from the very first event. This event introduced me to Gingerman, and I’ve really found a home with the organization that runs Gridlife and Western Michigan Honda Meet. I almost don’t believe how big Gridlife has gotten, all weekend there were moments where I just had to stop, and I just looked around at everyone smiling, and genuinely enjoying themselves. Driving and instructing with Gridlife makes me proud to be involved in such a great community of drivers and friends that put such an emphasis on having fun. Im so happy to be involved in something that’s grown so much, and has given me the opportunity to grow and earn such great experiences as a driver. I love this shit, it really is magic.

OHEY

The team was hard at work yesterday and today getting Mikey’s fit ready for Gridlife. It’s come a long way, and and has a long way to go, but I’m confident it will get done and will be great. Not going to show much more of what’s going on, because there’s a lot going on. But I’m excited for the finished product. You’ll see it on here soon enough.

A Visit From a Friend To Visit a Friend

Today, GeeDeeThree Cody came to visit from Milwaukee. He came down for an S2000 meet at TF, but because I was off this weekend, we decided to make a day of it. He came in the morning and we went to go visit Momo’s grave. This was the first time I visited him the Civic, and Cody’s first time with the AP1, so this visit really meant a lot to us. 

This was also actually my first time seeing Cody’s S2000, it’s got a ways to go yet, but he’s taking his time with this car. He’s got a lot of stuff piled up for it, but with his recent home purchase, he’s put moving forward with it on the back burner. He let me drive it back up to Mitsuwa today and that reaffirmed my desires for an AP1 hahaha. Roadsters are cool as fuck.

Today was a great day spent with friends.

OHEY

The homie Mikey and I took a trip down to visit our Rambler team mate Chris today to get dinner and give him a gift. 

A couple weeks ago, our friend Shocker Joe hit us up with an idea to surprise Chris with a Hybrid Racing fuel rail, complete with some Ramblers flavor for his Kswapped fit before Wekfest. The car was giving him a bunch of issues, and we thought the gesture would be nice. We couldn’t get the part to him till now, but we’re happy he finally got it. 

It’s a really cool piece with our exclamation point engraved in it. It’s destined for this car:

It’s come a long way since he got it. It’s been a long road, but it’s finally taking shape. It’s his daily driver, but it hasn’t kept him on the road as much as it should. He’s got a goal for completion set for the Midwest Gridlife Festival. 

Chris’s other car has far less issues other than being so damn good looking. This car has always held a spot in my heart. It’s one of a very few local S2000s that really do it for me. It’s simple, but very well executed.

This car and my car have played a part in almost killing Chris, Mikey and Me haha. It’s funny how close almost colliding on track give you some of the best track friends in this community. This car is soon going to be sitting on a set of white TE37 SLs, my personal favorite look for it. 

Checking in 2017

It’s been a while. At the beginning of every summer, I always tell myself I’m going to blog more, and I pretty much never do hahaha. 

It’s about that time of the year, and I’m getting that same notion. But this year, I’m back in school. I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of writing, (Im actually taking a break right now from finishing an essay to write this) and I’m finding that I enjoy it more now than ever. This semester I’ve read and wrote more for these three classes than my entire college career. (And that’s an embarrassingly long time) But I figure I might actually make an effort to post more this year. Over the last year, the ramblers have tried their hands at vlogging and collecting video coverage, but that’s so much more involved to me than simply writing is. So I’m hoping I have the motivation to document most of the Ramblers adventures this year. I feel like that’s an interesting source of content for this platform seeing as I’m not really going to be as active driving this year.

This year’s revisions to the civic are more in favor of maintenance, save a new set of wheels and tires. Now that I’m back in school, I’m focusing less on driving, and more on actually doing well. I want to get my life sorted out before pursuing more driving goals. 

In Ramblers news, the team has been to TWO new tracks this year. I sat out for Mid Ohio because I was in DC on vacation with my mom. But I had the opportunity to drive Road America with an almost complete team earlier this month. My car came down with some ignition issues mid day, so I called it an early one. I think I need a new distributor. But Road America is an amazing place. The track is crazy, but the facility is phenomenal. Next month, we go home to Gingerman for Gridlife’s Midwest festival.

I don’t have much else to say, this is just me checking in with myself really. But if anyone is out there reading, hello.

Times Are Changing

I “grew up” car wise, in a time where blogging was the norm. People documented damn near everything car related on their blogspots. And being in Chicago, I got to see first hand, a lot of what I saw on the internet from teams like Risky Devil, and Crazu Knights. They were such big inspirations to me. Back then the more prominent profile based social media platforms were myspace and forums, and thats how everything in the scene was organized, and thats how I got to meet a lot of these mysterious people from the internet, and later become friends with them.
Without these relationships, I’m 100% certain my life would be much different. Hell, I might not even still be interested in cars the way I am without the guidance I was lucky enough to be given.

This past weekend, a very important car to me was permanently put out of comission due to a suspension failure essentially destroying the chassis. This car was probably the most important car to me since I started this whole mess of a hobby. It’s the first car Ive ever taken notice to that was crazy low, tucking tire and was crazy loud without sounding broken. The first car I ever realized could be made to be so ridiculous. This is Josh’s 180SX

This picture is from 2007 or 2008. Pretty soon after I got the Civic. Thats’s me on the left with the red shirt, being flabbergasted that this car even existed.

Over the course of the years since then, Josh, and the friends Ive met through him have become great teachers to me. Teaching me about style, driving, and aura. Showed me what is really good. Ive learned a lot from them and I feel good whenever I feel like I can pass that kind of knowledge on to younger car folk who actually have open ears.

But after seeing what happened to Josh’s car, it’s really starting to hit me that damn near all of the people I looked up to while coming up in the car scene no longer have the same cars that they did when I first met them. There have been pictures circulating of old civics, integras, 240’s, and other cars formerly owned by friends that have drastically changed since then, or just no longer exist. It’s weird that so much of my personal history kind of just doesn’t exist anymore. 

I guess this is the first time in my adult life that something like this is dawning on me. And im sure Im going to over analyze other parts of my life after posting this, but these friends and these cars were such a big part of my life for such a long time. I guess Im rambling at this point. But I guess for old times sake, here’s a picture of what to me is the beginning of where I really got my eyes opened to what car shit should be. The night I met EVERYONE.

Style Up

I had a bit of a rough off while driving Time Attack at GRIDLIFE a couple weeks ago. Left my bumper looking rough, but the car is mechanically sound, and I’m gonna get have to check my alignment settings. BUT I finally had the opportunity to buy something I’ve been wanting for the car for a long time. I got a pair of old Ganadors, thanks to my friend Cody out in California.

_MG_2509 _MG_2512 _MG_2514 _MG_2526

Thoughts

Early this year, I found out Gridlife was having a full time attack series. Along with the announcement of the TRACK BATTLE was a secondary announcement of a team battle within the series. (Thus was born RAMBLERS RACING TEAM in it’s entirety.) I was really excited about it because I’ve really been wanting to do something competitively for a long time. But after much consideration, I along with my team mates decided not to compete this year.

Even without competing, I had a very full season of driving this year. It may not have concluded the way I would have liked it, but I really feel like I’ve progressed exponentially as a driver. I’ve learned so much this season, It really got me thinking lately.

At Gridlife Rd 3 this past weekend, I was given the chance to instruct at Gingerman. This was a great opportunity for me because I got to pass on the knowledge that I learned from my good friend John when he instructed me. And it ended up really well for Mike (my student that weekend) he got pretty damn quick on Gingerman. But besides that, Mike gave me quite the eye opener about my driving. He let me drive his car, and he just happened to have an aim solo in his car. His car is a very mildly set up LS Integra with just stock ITR suspension, Carbotech XP8’s all around, and a set of 215 Kumho XS . A great setup to learn in, very easy to drive, and very forgiving, but after I took it out for a few laps, we found out that I could run a 2.03 in it, driving very conservatively, while letting traffic by.

After seeing the times I can put down in Mike’s car, I feel pretty confident that I can put consistent times under 2 minutes. Not to say my car is any better, but I definitely know that I can drive it faster. This paired with the modifications I have planned for the off season, as well as seeing the times posted from the standings online make me believe I could be competitive if I choose to partake in next year’s track battle.

But until I actually finish the car, these are all just thoughts.

Bittersweet

About three years ago, an unknown photographer took a picture of my car at a car meet. I really liked the picture so I made it my profile picture on facebook. It turned out that he went to the school I was attending at the time, one thing led to another and we are now lovers. Not actually, but he definitely is someone I now consider a very close friend. That year he asked to shoot my car, and has done so every summer since then, and it is very apparent that his skills as a photographer have improved exponentially since that semester. Every year, he has a new trick up his sleeve, always improving himself and his craft. Needless to say, Darian shooting my car is something I look forward to every summer since meeting  [SQUARED]photo.

This last shoot made for a great night, and a great experience. This being the first year we didn’t stay in the suburbs, we got to explore the city a little bit, and find great new spots that we’ve never been to before. We ran into our friend Dan who clued us in on a few spots, and we got to eat sausages together at Jim’s.

I brought my camera that night too, but made the mistake of only bringing my old Minolta Macro lens in an effort to take some behind the scenes shots of Darian working, but really only ended up of a few blurry pictures of Darian bending over.

We started the night in Wicker Park near the former RGB Lounge (The very first place I ever made a full run of stickers for the blog long long ago).  It was weird because this was the very first time I’ve ever driven my car near there, and seeing the area from a car instead of walking down the side walk. We spent a few hours here shooting and looking around the immediate area for locations, and we decided this spot would work well, because this was pretty much the only place we could get to without needing 2×4’s or plywood, both of which were pretty scarce at the time.

mico_4 mico_3 mico_2 mico_5x mico_6

This last shot has a pretty funny story behind it, Darian had pretty much finished getting all the shots he needed when a cop showed up asking what we were doing. I let him know what’s up, and he asked if I race the car. I said yeah, but only on the track, and he asked me what size the engine was. I replied it was a 1.6, he laughed and asked me if it went from 0-60 in 2 minutes. I told him 22 haha.

After Wicker Park, we were hard pressed to find another spot, I asked Darian if he’d be willing to take me to a place he had previously used when shooting a friend’s car. On the way there, he spotted our friend Dan’s car parked in the street, and we contacted him while he was about to get drunk with what I’m hoping were pretty girls. We hung out with Dan for about a half hour, and he told us of a few places we should check out, both relatively close. The first place had a cool view of the highway.

mico_7 mico_8 mico_9

And the last spot was probably the riskiest spot of our three spots, with multiple signs stating that the property was under surveillance. But it was definitely my favorite one with the best view, and also happened to yield my favorite photos from this set.

mico_12 mico_10 mico_11 mico_14 mico_13

It was quite the adventure. It pushed some boundaries my sheltered suburban ass had about being in places you’re not supposed to be haha. It always a good time with Darian. He’s one of a few young bloods I’ve met in the car scene that are actually open to take guidance from the older generations, instead of being a fuckboy and building a car with no purpose, and do nothing but try to get famous on the internet.

But, it was a great night followed by disaster. That weekend, I decided to attend and show at a car show in Wisconsin. All was well, it was my first time this season I was excited for an event that didn’t include driving. It was a fun drive up with my friends, and even though the event itself was pretty disappointing, it was good to spend time with friends that don’t drive with me. But after getting off the highway in Wisoconsin, my check engine light started blinking telling me I had a misfire in cylinder 3. I cleared the code assuming it was just a fouled plug, and it would be something I could fix when I got home. But it got worse, and the misfire got more noticeable. I babied it home for about 100 miles, and a few days later, I found out I had no compression in Cylinder 3. I took it to a shop for a leak down test and I found that my Civic’s head is having valving issues, so I’m going to be calling my season over, and doing a mild build on my head over the winter. This might put a damper on other plans, like new wheels and exhaust, but to me it’s worth it because it puts me a lot closer to a more reliable 200 once I decide (or need) to tear into the block a little bit.

I picked up an 04 Accord EX Coupe for a daily driver, it’s my first financed piece of property. I’m very happy with it, it’s a lot nicer than anything I was planning on getting in the desperation that this situation left me in. I’ll have pictures of it soon, but for now, I’m going to let Darian’s pictures be the star of this post.