WELCOME TO VIRTUALLY ENTERTAINED

WELCOME TO VIRTUALLY ENTERTAINED

Octane Junkies recently teamed up with Simply Race to form a new business, Virtually Entertained. Octane Junkies are experts in project and event management and Simply Race experts in simulator technical services and live broadcasts, together as Virtually Entertained we now provide a complete solution for professionally run esports events.

Ben Turner, Esports Director, Virtually Entertained said “We worked with Octane Junkies on a number of occasions to deliver esports events, the teams thought alike and we’re all passionate about putting on a great show, it just made sense to join forces to provide a one-stop shop for esports events management”.

The sentiment was echoed by Laurence Wiltshire, Director, Virtually Entertained, who commented “I was impressed by Ben’s [Ben Turner, Esports Director] and Darren’s [Darren Kirk, Technical Director] work ethic, experience and professionalism. I enjoyed working with them and it was the logical step to develop our brand as experts in esports and eracing events management.

www.virtuallyentertained.com

The services provided by Virtually Entertained include:

·         Esports events management

·         Live broadcast

·         Racing simulator hire

·         Esports team building and corporate events

·         Virtual Reality simulator hire

·         Consultancy

·         e-Athlete development

·         Esports events staff; recruitment and training

Call 01327 856155 to contact Virtually Entertained.

Juke SOAK, a sweat-sensing working concept car

Juke SOAK, a sweat-sensing working concept car

Nissan recently captured the headlines with Juke SOAK, a sweat sensing technology that tells the driver when they are dehydrated. Experts have recently found that dehydration is as bad as drink-drinking.

Juke SOAK is a working concept that aims to improve driver safety by recognising when they are dehydrated. Nissan Europe’s PR Agency, Performance Communications, asked Octane Junkies to help with sourcing a well-known racing driver for the short film and to source an endorsement for the technology from a leading expert in motorsport medicine.

The film featured Lucas Ordonez, Nissan works driver in the Blancpain GT Series. After a run along a canal side in Amsterdam, Lucas is seen benefitting from the dehydration recognition technology.

A Nissan adventure to North Wales to experience the UK’s only forest rollercoaster

A Nissan adventure to North Wales to experience the UK’s only forest rollercoaster

Media guests went on a Nissan Family Adventure to Conway Valley in North Wales to experience the UK’s only forest rollercoaster at Zip World and launch the all new Nissan X-Trail. The PR team at wanted their media guests to enjoy a typical family outing in the all new X-Trail.

The event was completed by an overnight stay, dinner and driving X-Trails off-road at Motor Safari, located near the easily pronounceable Bwlchgwyn, claimed to be the highest village in Wales. The event was hosted over 2-days with 16 guests each day.

Octane Junkies were asked by Nissan to provide full event management, this included; location finding, venue booking, guest management, guest transfers, event staff, branding, uniform, professional 4x4 driver coaches and valeting.

BMW M Power Events

BMW M Power Events

Throughout 2017 Octane Junkies have provided BMW with the hire of VBox data logging systems for use on BMW M Power Events. Hire includes laptops to analyse data and each event is supported by an Octane Junkies technician.

VBox is an in-car camera system that monitors driver performance and records key data such as gear changes, lap times, braking points and speed. Analysing driver inputs and performance is a critical component to modern driver development and greatly accelerates a pupil’s learning curve.

Our VBox systems have been used on BMW M Power Events at circuits up and down the UK, including Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Knockhill, Thruxton and Bedford Autodrome.

Unleashing the biker within

Unleashing the biker within

Dan Whittemore, Octane Junkies Director, writes about unleashing the biker within. I only recently passed my bike test in 2016, at 43 you could argue a bit too late to call myself a true biker. I would argue not, as I’ve always had a passion for bikes but not the opportunity.

In February 2016 we were high up in the Yorkshire Dales during a media event to launch the new Nissan Navara NP300. Our road route took the Navara’s off-road and across the Dales on green lanes, it was at this point I noticed many bikers on dirt bikes enjoying the challenging trails. It looked ace and at that moment I decided I must get my bike licence and get a bike for green laning.

That was the original plan. With bike licence in hand, I soon purchased a bike, a Honda CRF250X Enduro. It didn’t take long for our in-house motocross expert, Laurence Wiltshire, to talk me into taking my Honda on a motocross track, something I’d never imagined I’d be doing. A year on and I now regularly compete in 4-hour enduro races, which are the most challenging, demanding and rewarding activities I’ve ever participated in.

Off road wasn’t enough and the slick advertising of Triumph and rise in popularity of modern classics lured me into buying a Triumph Street Twin, at the same time, hitting every branch of the Triumph merchandise tree on the way down. I ride the Street Twin in to work most days and feel a great sense of belonging when I ride up to the Super Sausage Café on the A5, a famous biker café.

Treetop Presentation

Treetop Presentation

Yes, you heard right, a presentation up a tree. This was one of our more unusual events. To launch the new X-Trail 2L to the UK media, our brief from the Nissan PR team was ‘The Great Outdoors, create a Nissan Adventure’. The theme we proposed was ‘wild camping’ and our venue search led us to Hunter Gather HQ on the South Downs in Sussex. Guests arrived at a picturesque farm, then walked along a forest path lined by bluebells to Hunter Gather HQ’s treehouse. Here guests ate a gourmet breakfast that had been locally caught, sourced or foraged and cooked al fresco style over a wood fire. Then guests climbed up into the treehouse for a presentation about the new X-Trail 2L on linked tablets that Octane Junkies provided. After a lesson on fire making skills, guests took the new X-Trail a road route that wound through the South Downs countryside to Slindon Common for a 4x4 off-road experience. Finally, guests navigated to Firle Beacon for a search and rescue activity in conjunction with Surrey Search & Rescue using their thermal imaging drone to find a lost hipster in desperate need of a cappuccino!

Nissan activation at the Goodwood Festival of Speed

Nissan activation at the Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Goodwood Festival of Speed gave the Octane Junkies team the ultimate fix of motorsport this weekend. No other event comes close to matching the hit given by the sublime combination of automotive sights, sounds and experiences. However, it wasn’t all about drooling over supercars as we had work to do. Nissan employed Octane Junkies to manage a media event at the Goodwood Motor Circuit and to provide motorsport logistical support for two cars that Nissan had entered in the hill climb competition.

Guests invited from across Europe to attend the media event enjoyed an unsurpassable Goodwood FOS experience. They arrived on Friday and checked in to their accommodation, country houses close to Goodwood House. On the Saturday, Nissan’s guests watched the hill climb from hospitality at Molecombe corner and ambled around the extensive grounds looking at the varied and magnificent car displays and stands. In the evening Nissan’s guests attended Lord March’s exclusive and fabled ball with a guest list that reads more like the great and good of motorsport. It included names like Ross Brawn, Bernie Ecclestone, Jean Todt, Niki Lauda, Christian Horner and Chase Carey. Sunday morning it was over to the Goodwood Motor Circuit for a track experience. Activities included drives in the Nissan Bladeglider, MY17 GT-R and 370Z on the historic circuit. They also drifted Nissan Leaf’s fitted with special tyres on the rear that allowed them to break into a slide with little effort.

At the Festival of Speed, Nissan had two cars running in the hill climb in the Supercar category. A Nissan MY17 GT-R NISMO and the Bladeglider. The GT-R was driven by NISMO Athlete Lucas Ordonez, who recorded an impressive time of 52.68 seconds, good enough for second in the Supercar Shootout. The Octane Junkies team managed the whole process of completing the official paperwork, transporting cars, organising drivers and coordination during the event to ensure both car and driver completed each run up the hill successfully.

Nissan hired Octane Junkies to provide the following automotive and motorsport events services.

  • Vehicle logistics
  • Circuit Health & Safety
  • Activity Management
  • Professional Driver Coaches
  • Provision of crash helmets & safety equipment
  • Airport transfers
  • Guest shuttle service
  • Provision of specialist tyres for drift activity
  • Activity scheduling
  • Vehicle cleaning & maintenance
  • Provision of VBox timing equipment
  • Motorsport support & logistics

We’d love to hear from you about any future events, filming, activations or stunts that we can help you with. Contact Laurence at laurence@octane-junkies.co.uk or call +44 (0)1327 856021.

Increase in Virtual Experiences

Increase in Virtual Experiences

Gaming tech is improving at an exponential rate. Consoles or PC’s are more powerful, games use sophisticated physics to simulate real-life and advances in screens or VR headsets produce stunning and life-like graphics. All combine to increase the sense of realism and immerse the participant in a virtual world that will one day become hard to differentiate from the real world.

Driving sims and games have been around for donkey’s years, some will remember the classics like Outrun. However, games like that used to come in a big package and were arguably not that mobile. And whilst fun, the experience felt artificial, unlike the driving sims available today such as Grand Turismo 6, rFactor 2, Project Cars or the eagerly awaited GT Sport. These days the equipment required can fit into the boot of a Mini Cooper.

You may wonder what’s the relevance to Octane Junkies, an automotive and motorsport events agency? The answer is that thanks to this increase in realism and mobility of equipment, it allows us to help our customers provide a motorsport experience virtually anywhere.

Over the last six months we have seen an increase in demand for our virtual racing experiences. Perhaps this is due to the rise in popularity of eSports, through a need to connect with millennial or generation Z audiences in way that appeals to them or even because it delivers a memorable experience on a budget.

Our gaming seats, consoles and screens have been deployed up and down the UK at a variety of events. They have been used to provide a memorable, exciting and competitive experience at shows, exhibitions and events to connect a brand with customers or staff. The application is far reaching, our virtual race experience could go to a company’s office to motivate employees, a trade show to draw visitors onto a stand, a conference to provide a breakout activity or even a wedding or private party just as a fun and social activity.

The virtual racing experience can be a simple time trial with one gaming seat and a Top Gear style leaderboard, with a prize going to the fastest time of the day. It could be a full-on race with multiple seats connected to create a competitive experience similar to karting.

Here are a couple of recent examples of how a virtual experience helped to enhance a brand activation or event:

British Olympic Association – Kit Fitting

Nissan sponsored the British Olympic Paralympics Associations. Before Team GB headed to Rio 2016, a kit fitting event was held at the NEC. Nissan created a brand experience with cars and Nissan innovations on display. The event was attended by athletes, their families and friends and our virtual racing experience was one, among others, that helped to draw them onto the Nissan stand.

F1 in Schools at Silverstone Circuit

F1 in Schools is a challenge aimed at getting school children enthused about engineering through the excitement of motorsport, the finals of which are held at Silverstone Circuit. The teams that enter are all school age, this means they can’t drive on track. The use of our virtual racing experience helped to create a buzz at the event by allowing teams and visitors of the event drive the Silverstone Circuit virtually in a fast lap competition.

For more information on our gaming and virtual racing experience, contact Daniel Whittemore on 01327 856017 or daniel@octane-junkies.co.uk

Octane Junkies visit Marrakesh for the launch of the North African 2016 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy

Octane Junkies visit Marrakesh for the launch of the North African 2016 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy

Crikey it’s hot in Marrakesh! It was 45c when I arrived on the 12th July 2016 to attend the launch of the North African 2016 Nissan PlayStation GT Academy. Thankfully a very chilled Nissan Qashqai was waiting to take me to the hotel. The journey to the hotel was an eye opener, UK driving standards now feel ordered and civilised compared to those experienced in Morocco. However, it all seemed to work and drivers must have developed a sixth sense to dodge the hordes of scooters riding wherever they want regardless of lanes, junctions and lights. At last I arrived to the safe haven of Hotel du Golf, a gated resort so no more near misses with scooters, if only for a brief respite.

Nissan Egypt had invited me to Morocco to talk about GT Academy to media guests attending the launch of the competition in the North African region, specifically Algeria, Egypt and Morrocco. Click here to find out more about GT Academy. In addition, I was there to offer advice on track safety to Nissan North Africa’s digital communications team, who wanted to film a precision driving stunt to create social media content. My itinerary for the next few days included a reccie of the motorsport track for the stunt, press conference, which I had a 20-minute slot to present at, followed by Q&A sessions with media guests, tour of Marrakesh, karting endurance race, wake boarding and evening entertainment. So pretty full on!

The key activities were speaking at the press conference and assessing the safety of the social media stunt, in particular track safety. This can be a concern in countries where detailed planning and risk assessments are not necessarily required. Thankfully the track was good, plenty of run off if things went wrong and only one entry and egress point, which we could control preventing any unwanted visitors on the track. The stunt idea was for unsuspecting media guests to receive a fast and furious lap around a section of the World Touring Car Circuit. Our tame racing driver, Lucas Ordonez, who races a Nissan GTR GT3 in the Blancpain GT Endurance Series, would pretend to be a shuttle driver taking guests from the hotel to the track, on arrival he would peel off onto the circuit for an unscheduled high-speed passenger ride in a Nissan Juke equipped with hidden cameras.

The stunt provided a welcomed distraction from the foreboding media talk, as public speaking is not my favourite activity. I followed Nissan Egypt’s Managing Director, Isao Sekiguchi. After me it was the turn of Lucas Ordonez, who was the first winner of GT Academy back in 2008, to address media guests as they welcomed the news that GT Academy was returning to North Africa. With the stunt in the can and talk done it was time to enjoy the rest of the media trip.

Marrakesh is a great location to host automotive event as it hosts a round of the FIA World Touring Championship. Although a street race, part of the track is a permanent and acts as a base for a karting circuit. The area boasts a number of stunning hotels all within 30 minutes of the airport like the Royal Mansour  or Mandarin Oriental. Marrakesh also has a rich history, I visited the Majorelle Garden, previously the private gardens of Yves Saint Laurent and Bahia Palace, both interesting additions to the event itinerary. The nightlife is fabulous, we dined and danced at the various lively restaurants, the stand out venue for me was the Palais Jad Mahal.

Seeing the excitement created from the news of GT Academy's return and from having Lucas Ordonez around were both reminders to me of how powerful automotive and motorsport events can be to generate a buzz and influence opinion.

 

Live Action at Gran Turismo Sport Reveal Event at The Copper Box Arena, London.

Live Action at Gran Turismo Sport Reveal Event at The Copper Box Arena, London.

On 19-20 May, 2016, PlayStation® revealed details of the latest and long awaited racing simulator Gran Turismo Sport. The event was hosted at The Copper Box Arena, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. Media and VIP’s from around the world attended the global unveil of Gran Turismo Sport, which will be released in November 2016. To bring the event to life PlayStation® offered guests a unique virtual to reality experience. Kazunori Yamauchi, the legendary creator of Gran Turismo, shared what’s new and innovative in the outstanding racing simulator, shortly afterwards guests headed outside The Copper Box arena for a one in a lifetime ‘hot lap’ of the arena in an assorted of supercars that are featured within the game. Cue Octane Junkies…

Octane Junkies were engaged by HPS Jardine, experts in PR, Events & Sponsorship, to create a live experiential activity with a motorsport theme on behalf of their client, PlayStation®. Our brief was to create ‘speed’ and ‘movement’ through live action demonstrations and racing. At a venue better known for hosting the London Olympics where human power is preferred over horse power, this was a challenge.

Things to consider were striking a balance between speed, excitement and safety. The Copper Box Arena is not a racing circuit, tarmac is limited and the streets around it are busy with people all enjoying what the Queen Elizabeth Park has to offer.

After looking at aerial views of The Copper Box Arena experience kicked in and our racing minds shifted into top gear. Quickly we visualised how we could race around the arena’s access roads, drifting and performing donuts along the way. With the fun stuff sorted and a track mapped out our attention then focused on the most important elements; assessment of risk and the safety of public, staff, guests and professional drivers.

The complete event solution saw Octane Junkies provide a 160m live action track, 320m of safety barrier, trussing for a manufacturer paddock, vehicle supply, vehicle logistics, track safety, risk assessments, track design, scheduling, public liability insurance, guest management, commentary on the live action, precision drivers, vehicle maintenance and meticulous planning and management of the overall live action event.

Over a 4-hour period each day, more than 300 guests experienced mind blowing high speed rides in sports and supercars provided by Lamborghini, Lotus, Jaguar, Mercedes, McLaren and Nissan. Jaguar also sent along Terry Grant, stunt driver, who spent most of his time going sideways in a Jaguar F-Type.

The event showcased how effective motorsport and automotive activity can be to inject excitement and interest into any brand activation creating a memorable experience linked to an event, product or service.

Find video and photos from the event on our Twitter page; @Octane_Junkies