Forget giant billboards and trick TV ads, Toyota wanted a much bigger and bolder platform to promote the supreme handling qualities of its GT86 coupe. It wanted to send out a message that could be seen from space.
That’s how a world champion drift king came to burn rubber around a British skid pan to “paint” the car’s famous 86 logo in tyre marks large enough to be seen from an orbiting satellite.
The Donuts from Space project has been captured in a short film, released today on Toyota’s official UK YouTube channel and available to view below.
This was not simply a matter of driving a fast car in circles to smear “donuts” on the ground. It called for precision planning, for the driver, the camera crew and the team plotting the exact time at which the satellite would pass overhead to capture the image.
The challenge recruited the best man in the business for car control, Fredric Aasbø, a Formula Drift World Champion. He tackled the task at the wheel of his Icom Toyota Express Service 86-X, a unique competition version of the GT86 powered by a 3.4-litre turbocharged straight-six engine and tuned to produce up to 1150bhp.
“When I was told about the project I thought, ‘Is this for real?’ then it was, ‘Heck yeah, let’s do it!’” he said.
He executed the design on the 137m diameter steering pad at the Millbrook proving ground in Bedfordshire, working in inch-perfect synchronicity with two road-going GT86 cars.
“Drifting is controlling a car that is essentially out of control,” he explained, “but this was the first time I had used my car as a paintbrush. It was epic and the highlight of my year.”
The production team collaborated with the aeronautics and space giant Airbus to schedule a high resolution image of the completed 86 logo from one of its twin Pléaides satellites, circling in space, 800km above the earth. Experts at the National Geo Centre helped calculate the precise time at which the satellite and 86 logo would be in perfect alignment.
The only factor that could not be controlled was the weather, but after four months of planning the two-day shoot in August was completed in fine conditions, ensuring a pin-sharp image could be obtained.
To see in full how the short film was made watch the behind the scenes video below:
Notes to editors: –
Full details of the road-going Toyota GT86 can be found on the Toyota media website here.
High resolution images of Fredric’s GT86 and behind the scenes images can be found here.
About Fredric Aasbø:
Known for his flat-out style, champion driver Fredric Aasbø has achieved 100-plus podium finishes on three continents over the past decade of competition. He is the most winning driver in Formula Drift history.
Aasbø made his U.S. debut at a global drifting invitational in 2008 and turned heads as the winner of the 2010 Formula Drift Rookie of the Year title. Since then, he has charged through the drifting ranks around the world and is both a fan favourite and championship winner.
In 2017, he competes in the Formula Drift series in the brand new Rockstar Energy Drink/Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla iM, while also running a select season of events in Europe in the Icom Toyota Express Service 86-X, and drifting championship events in Asia.
Originally from Ski, Norway, Aasbø now splits his time between his native country and Southern California.