Top EDM artists to headline 10th anniversary of GRIDLIFE motorsports festival in South Haven


A showcase of car and motorsports culture by day and a music festival by night, one unique southwest Michigan event is revving up for a milestone event this summer.

GRIDLIFE Festival Midwest is celebrating its 10th anniversary June 2-4 at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven. From professional drivers drifting and racing in custom-built cars, to performances by some of the most popular names in electronic dance music, GRIDLIFE fuses two seemingly separate cultures into one massive event.

“Our primary focus is grassroots racing,” said festival founder Chris Stewart. “We try to present the hobby of motor sports and track racing in a professional capacity, and then bring more people closer to it by producing a festival around it.”

The roots of the festival began in the early 2000’s, when Stewart and a group of friends – partially inspired by the Fast and Furious movie franchise – started throwing Honda racing events at GingerMan.

“We started to get into track racing and found out you could rent a racetrack,” said GRIDLIFE founder Chris Stewart. “So, we all pooled our money together and rented that track. It was maybe like 50 people that came to that event. Fast-forward 10 years later, and we had built a significant community.”

The idea for GRIDLIFE came as Stewart thought of additional ways to get all of his friends to come out and support grassroots car racing, so they added the live music and created GRIDLIFE. Since then, the festival has expanded to multiple locations across the country, as well as a touring racing cup series.

The South Haven event, GRIDLIFE Festival Midwest, has grown from 1,500 attendees to an expected 15,000 this year.

“It’s been a very organic kind of growth,” Stewart said. “It’s focused on the people who come and participate in the events.”

According to Stewart, the full-track drifting is the most popular event for those with limited knowledge of motorsports.

“These are purpose-built cars for drifting,” Stewart said. “They’re designed to go sideways. They’re designed to make a lot of smoke. They’re designed to be visceral and loud, and the drivers we have are the best drivers in the world.”

Another racing event is called the Track Battle, which sees how fast each custom-built car can travel across a single lap. There are also more traditional races, as part of the GRIDLIFE Touring Cup. This year’s music headliners include Subtronics, Wooli and Boogie T – acts that have played to tens of thousands at some of the country’s biggest music festivals, including Michigan’s Electric Forest.

In addition to the music and racing events, the festival will have a centralized car show, a full arcade with racing simulators and other games, food trucks, vendors and a Kid Life area. During the day, the racing “pits” will be open to attendees to meet with drivers and do ride-alongs.

“There’s more programming,” Stewart said. “The artists are bigger. The stage is bigger. The racing is better. The cars are faster. They’re better built. Everything just levels up year over year.”

Stewart said the event sees people who come just for the music aspect and get sucked into the motorsport culture, and also exposes people entrenched in the world of racing to new music.

“We’re able to cross-pollinate between the two different groups and just kind of grow the hobby,” Stewart said. “There’s a lot of music discovery that happens at festivals, and we strive to be similar in that regard as well … and just bring all these cool things together.”

To learn more about GRIDLIFE, or to purchase three-day weekend or single day passes, visit

By Ryan Yuenger