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6 of the Best Drift Cars from Gridlife Midwest

Without a doubt, one of the things we love most about Gridlife is how it always seems to bring out something new each year. 2019 brought out even more new stuff than past years, along with a lot of our old favorites along the way. Time attack, drift, music and lifestyle, even wheel-to-wheel racing—there were surprises seemingly around every turn.

Gridlife Midwest Time Attack - Mike Puglisi EVO IX

And while you'll undoubtedly read lots of high-level, overarching event coverage around the web, here's a more granular look at six cars and drivers impressed us the most in the drift segment.

1. Vaughn and Chelsea RTR Mustangs

Gridlife Midwest Drift - Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Chelsea DeNofa tandem drift in the rain

Everywhere these two go, they seem to shred a little bit harder, solo or (especially) in tandem. Gridlife was no exception.

Gridlife Midwest Drift - Vaughn Gittin Jr. RTR Ford Mustang drifting

Rain or shine; alone or with lucky ride-along passengers; morning or evening; Friday, Saturday or Sunday (after most had gone home); they were out there, slaying NT555 G2 Nitto tire rubber and putting on a hell of a show for fans and automotive photographers alike. Just two weeks after Hyperfest and a week before FD New Jersey, they were pushing as hard as ever—now that’s dedication.

Gridlife Midwest Drift Chelsea DeNofa vs. Vaughn Gittin Jr. tandem drift

2. Ryan Tuerck in a Toyota Corolla

After his brutal wall slam in Long Beach, Ryan Tuerck’s GT86 demo car had to be converted to his Formula D competition car, which left him without a demo car for bash-style events like Gridlife.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - Ryan Tuerck Papadakis Racing Toyota Corolla drift car in pits

Not to worry—Tuerck is tight with Toyota, who set him up with this awesome RWD-converted Corolla drift machine.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - Ryan Tuerck Toyota Corolla drift car tandem in the rain

If this car looks familiar, it should. Built by Papadakis Racing, it's mechanically very similar to Fredric Aasbø’s RWD Corolla FD competition car. The handshake agreement between Tuerck and Toyota specified that the car had to be returned in the condition it was loaned, so Ryan didn't go as crazy with it as he probably would’ve liked. But that didn’t stop him from shredding his fair share of Nitto tires.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - Ryan Tuerck Toyota Corolla drift car

3. BMW E46 and Saab "Saabaru" Wagons

Falling in close proximity to Wisconsin's annual Final Bout drift bash (held the weekend prior), this year's Gridlife Midwest Festival attracted plenty of advanced pro-am and amateur drifters.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - Saabaru wagon drift car

While several of them left us with positive lasting impressions, maybe none did so quite as much as these two tire killers in their loosely matching E46 and “Saabaru” 2JZ-powered drift wagons.  

Gridlife Midwest Festival - 2JZ-GTE BMW E46 wagon drift machine

If either one of these machines were mine, I would probably baby it. Not these guys. Every session they turned up the wick, smoked out the crowd and looked great doing it.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - Saabaru 2JZ-GTE powered drift wagon

4. Adam LZ Nissan S15

Another Hyperfest holdover, Adam LZ and crew made their first trek out to Gridlife as major players this year.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - Adam LZ 2JZ-GTE powered S15 Nissan Silvia drift car in pits hood up

He treated fans to 2JZ-powered Nissan S15 drift demos and ride-alongs, and entertained showgoers all weekend.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - Adam LZ S15 tandem drift

He logged fewer runs than at Hyperfest, and we can’t recall seeing his SR20-powered S13 take the tarmac at all, but nonetheless, it’s always great to see someone so influential in the digital space killin’ it in the real world.   

Gridlife Midwest Festival - Adam LZ Nissan S15 Silvia drift car and spectators

5. Twin Yellow BMW E46 M3s

Call us suckers for harmony and symmetry, but we really liked this sportsman drift effort.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - twin yellow E46 M3 drift cars drifting

Speaking from personal experience, we're well aware of just how difficult it can be for one gearhead to finish one project car, let alone two BFFs to finish their cars at the same time and in completely matching trim! But that seems to be exactly what's happening here.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - twin BMW E46 M3 drift machines in the pits

We don't recall having seen either of these two drift Aces half past Gridlife, and we can tell they were staying a bit on the cautious side of crazy. But we really hope to see more of them in the future, and we're excited to see what they have in store for us.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - yellow BMW E46 M3 drift car rear slide

6. FCP Euro Mercedes E55 AMG

Something else we're really stoked on is the number of European cars being retrofitted for drift duty. E30s, E46s—they’ve always been preferred chassis across the pond, so it only makes sense that they would be here, as well. But this is ridiculous.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - FCP Euro green E55 AMG drift car front drift

Not only is it an E55 AMG—at a time one of the most powerful and sought-after in the Mercedes line—but it’s campaigned and cared for by the true professionals at FCP Euro, builders of two of three World Challenge TCR competition cars that drove demos during the weekend.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - FCP Euro green E55 AMG drift car burnt fender

Not even a small engine fire could keep this drift taxi out of contention, when one cropped up Friday night. It popped back up on the grid the next day, as eager and ready to get some as the day before.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - FCP Euro green E55 AMG drift car engine bay

But Wait! There’s More!

Can you believe it? All this content and we haven’t even touched on all the time-attack, wheel-to-wheel racing, and general partying that went on at this year's Gridlife Midwest Festival.

Gridlife Midwest Festival - LA Honda Civic TCR and FCP Euro VW Golf TCR world challenge race cars in the rain

Keep an eye out for part two with all that stuff, coming very soon.

Gridlife Midwest Festival concert goers

Don't forget to follow Gridlife and Driving Line across the web and social, for even more yet to come this year.

What kind of engine is necessary for pro-level drifting? Click here for the engines of Formula Drift.

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