Over the course of my time as a car enthusiast, I have driven to Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR) many times. As you leave Colorado Springs heading south, the terrain effectively goes on loop; a hill, a valley, a hill, a valley. Repeat ad nauseum. I often find myself assuming PPIR is just over the next hill, having never fully committed to memory how many of these I pass before the track comes into sight.

My drive down for Gridlife was different. Against the early autumn overcast sky on Saturday, a second cloud, visible for miles hung below the cloud cover. As I got closer and PPIR came into view, I realized that this anomalous cloud was a cloud of tire smoke churned up by a large number of drift cars on track aerosolizing their tires. This was not a typical PPIR event; this was Gridlife Alpine Horizon 2022.

Gridlife is a hugely unique event, bringing together several different disciplines of motorsport, from time attack, high performance driving event, drifting, wheel to wheel racing, and off-road driving, together with the festival environment of a multi-act concert. In addition to the racing and the music, just about anything a car culture enthusiast could want was on-site. An Esports corral featured multiple sim rigs available to race. Another area of PPIR’s infield garages was a dedicated drift-kart circuit, with drift karts available for rent to the show’s patrons. Next to that, a scale RC racetrack for 1:18th scale cars offered attendees a chance to replicate the full scale action on the track surrounding them, and an on-site barcade offered additional entertainment options, both liquid and virtual. A parking lot car show comprised the South end of the infield, with a multitude of cars and bikes over several categories.

The energy at Gridlife on the Saturday evening I attended was that of a big party, albeit one in inclement weather. The overcast cloud cover I encountered on the way down turned to drizzle in short order after I arrived, and temperatures dropped quickly. The weather didn’t put a damper on things; as I entered through the infield tunnel, drift cars were continuing to move around the circuit, being chased by the familiar Toyota Supra of Larry Chen, getting up close and personal shooting trademark drift action shots. Finding space at the barrier to the kink in the infield was difficult, as attendees were glued to the spot given its proximity to the action.

The concerts began to kick off at roughly 5:00 PM, as the intermediate level HPDE event took the course, allowing novice drivers the opportunity to get on course in their cars and turn laps on the Gridlife circuit, which comprised PPIR’s infield road course, and a portion of the oval.  This was fun to watch, as some cars were still developing their approach to the corner we were watching, and others, like a particularly heroic Red Mazda FC generation RX-7 were drifting the corner, and linking it into the next. Additionally noteworthy was an old Sharknose BMW 635 CSI, wringing out whatever was left that it had to give. I always find watching HPDE to be a riot, and Gridlife’s was no exception.

Drift followed the intermediate HPDE drivers, again giving an opportunity to watch folks in high powered cars shred their tires. The Falken team was out, running corners together, and watching their well-rehearsed 3 cars all sliding in tandem never stops being cool to see.

Gridlife also offers off-road thrills in the hills of Fountain surrounding PPIR; A sprint bracket style rally race is run on a full 2-Mile circuit in conjunction with RallyReady. While I didn’t get a chance to check this one out in person this year, it is something that will be high on my list next year.

After 6:30, the track went cold to allow time for dinner. I scored a tray of Nachos from the Pikes Peak concessions trailer, and a tasty hamburger courtesy of my friend Matt, a company representative for Motul who was camping in the paddock for the event.

Drift cars took the track again for night drift at 8:30, going at it again with lights, underglow, and other things that helped them put on an awesome show, as the concerts continued into headliner territory. The musical talent this year included Trippie Redd, Taking Back Sunday, City Morgue, Sueco, Xavier Wulf, Night Lovell, Jake Hill, Haarper, Cliffdiver, Wovvoka, Puppet, Call Me Karizma, Avoid and Not a Toy.

With an early morning flight the next day, I regrettably left PPIR as Taking Back Sunday was starting their set, with the 10:30pm final night drift running in the background. The night, while short, was one of the more memorable shows I attended all summer, with my only regret being that I didn’t have more time to wander the showfield and take in more of the musical acts.Gridlife Alpine Horizon 2022 was held from September 9th through 11th, with racing events on all three days, and musical events on Friday and Saturday. The arcade is open from 11:00 AM to Midnight on Friday and Saturday, and from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Sunday. The show had great access to facilities, including food, drink and toilet facilities in both porta-potties and PPIR’s brick and mortar facilities. The grounds had good access, but attendees with physical limitations should be aware that entering and leaving the showfield can be a bit of a hike, and plan accordingly. If you want an event that celebrates diverse aspects of car culture at every turn, has a young, high energy young crowd, and isn’t afraid of a bit of rain, Gridlife is for you!