Tokyo Auto Salon 2016, held from January 15 to 17, 2016, concluded on a high note. The event attracted more visitors, 325,501, than ever before (an increase of 105.1% over last year)! As a result, both the Toyo Tires booth and the drift venue also seemed to attract more fans than normal! Reporting to you with an insider’s glimpse at this year’s excitement.
Let’s start with a look inside the exhibition hall. In sharp contrast to last year’s black-toned booth, the underlying tone of this year’s space was white. In fact, based on the booth concept “Ignition!”, this bright, transparent look transformed the space into a stimulating world that combined sound, light, video and dance. This production represents a new start for Toyo Tires with Auto Salon as the launch pad. We’ll get to that in just a moment.
Jet black tires perched contrastingly atop white pedestals. As viewed from the middle-back of the picture to the left, five tire models were displayed: Proxes R888R, Proxes CF2 SUV, Tranpath mpZ, Tranpath LuK, and TOYO H20. Among these the Proxes R888R in the front of the right picture boasts a bold, sporty tread pattern. Many visitors were seen unconsciously reaching out to touch it. The R888R is the successor to the R888, a popular mainstay among Toyo’s sports tires. While at the moment this tire is only available overseas, due to popular demand we plan to make it available this summer in Japan as well, so be sure not to miss it♪
The most popular custom car was the Audi R8, which has appeared in our commercial. The profile of the company’s Proxes sports concept tire, which imagines “other-dimension driving,” mounted onto the gleaming metallic body is simply angelic!
The Tranpath Lu II (Toyota Vellfire) represents “luxury”; the Open Country Concept (Suzuki Hustler) expresses “freedom”; and the Proxes T1 Sport SUV (Porche Macan) epitomizes “sophistication.” The exhibited cars aside from the R8 elicited the themes of each tire and drew praise from the many visitors. One enthusiast remarked, “I’ve been waiting for a tire like this for the Hustler! I definitely want one…”
Finally, a highly anticipated performance by the Cyber Japan Dancers titled “Rev―Limit Stage” lifted the booth’s excitement level to a peak.
Splendorous video and dance combined to match the themes of each tire image, highlighted by brilliant costuming. The dancers’ impeccable sense of fashion expressed through sexy, cute and futuristic outfits left even me transfixed.
Burning from the heat of the stage I went outside for some air at the special outdoor venue where the machines of the D1 Grand Prix, which kicks off at the end of March, were assembled en masse･･･and where I encountered a cute group of guests not typically found at a D1 event.
These special visitors were the fifth grade class of the nearby Chiba Utase elementary school. They had come to take in the D1 practice as a field trip. Undaunted by the cold, the students were riveted by the drifting and the drivers alike. After this field trip there’s no doubt that these youngsters are on now well on their way to becoming future car fans♪
Wakkuma, Toyo’s mascot, came out to greet the visitors, and was so popular (too popular?) that he was soon mobbed by the crowd. Once again it was me in the middle playing the role of Wakkuma, and I must admit I was a bit sad when the time came to part with my new friends…
Participating in the evening’s “D1 Kick off Drift” exhibition from Team TOYO TIRES DRIFT were 2015 series champion Masato Kawabata and 2015 tanso series champion Akinori Utsumi.
This was actually my first time to witness drifting in person. Just as I had seen through video, I experienced drift with my entire body–the thunderous noise, the speed, the smoke billowing from the track, and the smell of the scorching tires. I started off hesitantly snapping photos, but as the event went on I became so enraptured by the lifelike moving, screaming machines that my finger stopped clicking! I’m embarrassed to say I wasn’t able to take any great photos.
Normal drift series events are contested with points are awarded based on line, drift angle, and precision and beauty of drifting technique, but at the Auto Salon the drivers were judged based on “size of applause,” a simpler scoring method for drift beginners like myself. As a result, the winner of the day on Friday, January 15 was the GT-R driven to rousing applause by Kawabata. An auspicious start to Kawabata’s quest for a second straight series championship in 2016.
A big thanks to all of you who visit the Toyo Tires booth and the Team TOYO TIRES DRIFT booth at the outdoor venue over the three days!