Behind the Akio-Inspired GR86 Commercial Demonstrating the FR Magic

2022.05.26

THE FR. That five-letter tagline, along with the car’s four-letter name, is the only on-screen text in the new commercial for the all-new GR86.

For 30 seconds, three generations of 86 speed side-by-side around a racetrack—one which looks very much like the final corner of Fuji Speedway, only driven in the other direction.

The three cars are perfectly in sync, neatly taking the corners sideways, rear wheels sliding.

FR refers to cars with a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. The FR setup is ideal for drifting, a driving technique that involves sliding the rear wheels around corners.

President Akio Toyoda shared his thoughts on the FR when Toyota unveiled the second-generation 86 in 2012.

Akio Toyoda (in 2012)

Toyota’s sportscars trace the history of FRs. Mastering the brakes and gas to take turns safely... I believe experiencing the joys of that through the 86 makes all aspects of driving safer and more enjoyable.

As heir to this lineage, the third-generation GR86 has been dubbed simply “THE FR”—for this car, no extra description is necessary.

The commercial was shot using a drone, which starts off following behind the three cars, catching up as they slow for the corner. Then comes the first surprise.

The drone swoops through the passenger window of the middle car, the Toyota 86. Whizzing past the driver’s nose, it pops out the opposite side and flies on, camera still rolling.

Staying with the three cars, next the drone dives through the window of the GR86 leading the pack. Hurtling straight through, it goes on to film the car from mid-air. The commercial ends with the text “THE FR” and “GR86” superimposed over the cars.

Just how were these images captured? That question is answered in a behind-the-scenes video released at the same time as the commercial.

The video opens with Takeshi Nozoe, the creative director who dreamed up what some would consider a harebrained idea. He reveals that the project came initially from Morizo (Akio Toyoda’s alter ego).

Nozoe

This project emerged from a conversation with Morizo, who wanted us to find a challenging new way to share the FR magic.

Toyota Times asked Nozoe about the filming challenges.

Nozoe

President Toyoda pushed us to push ourselves in the filming. We responded by committing to an entirely analog approach, doing all the stunts without any computer graphics or digital editing techniques.

We prepared for the “drift meets drone” joint performance between our racing drivers and a drone pilot over the course of three months. In the end, we still needed take after take.

Filming took place over three long days. The drivers had a hard time maintaining concentration, and as our crew grew exhausted after dozens of takes, the mood on location could have quickly soured.

Thankfully, driver Masahiro Sasaki drew on his endurance racing experience to raise spirits and bring everyone back together on point time and again, helping us get through those tough shoots.

Sasaki’s incredible concentration, stamina, and dedication kept everyone’s spirits up!

As the car’s development driver, Sasaki drove the lead GR86 in this commercial. He is also a familiar face at Toyota Times, both as part of the hydrogen-powered Corolla team and as “the man who makes Morizo a better driver.”

Creative director Nozoe also spoke about the difficulty of having the drone fly through the car windows.

Nozoe

As the drone pilot put it, the task of flying through the windows was “like trying to hit a one-centimeter target several dozen meters away, all while keeping the drone completely in sync with the cars.” There was no margin for error—it had to be centimeter-perfect and timed to fractions of a second.

As we struggled with the timing during filming, someone suggested that we slow down the cars. To this, others responded that the drifting itself was equally important in making the cars look cool and showing what an FR can do, so we had to make it happen at high speed.

It was the dedication of everyone involved that made those fly-through scenes possible. That commitment to authenticity is what gives the footage such impact.

Nozoe explains that he set out to capture not only the cars in motion, but also their impact and intensity. And indeed, the dedication of all these professionals has resulted in a dynamic, never seen before video, filling those 30 seconds with the GR86’s FR magic.

The additional behind-the-scenes footage also features another key element—the joy of being in complete control of vehicles.

Although the ones at the controls certainly faced their share of difficulties, each also seemed to be having the time of their lives. Their excitement comes across strongly in the behind-the-scenes video, a must-see for those who have watched the commercial.

Film crew interview
Driver interview

[Note: Viewing recommendation]

Toyota Times recommends using headphones when viewing these videos. They offer the best way to enjoy the oddly pleasing tire squeals and deep engine growls captured on board, a superb complement to the Kecak Indonesian folk music playing throughout.

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