Just Another Day at the Donut Office With Coco
Unless you spend your days in some corporate brig that frowns on recreational Internet use, and aren’t aware of Donut Media, let us make an introduction: They’re the gearhead production team behind most popular videos starring Ryan Tuerck and Chris Forsberg, and have crafted other web-based cinematic masterpieces such as “Two Grannies, One Lamborghini” and of course, teaming up with Driving Line, Nitto Tire and the Hübinettes for the highly successful "Huracán Drift." Their stars are the racers, drifters and automotive celebs whose names are household among most of us, and their office is the world at large.
So, when they decided to rent out California supreme automotive testing grounds Willow Springs one recent workday, and invited yours truly to hang out with the team, Formula Drift Champion Chris Forsberg and a couple of the cars we’ve lusted over in their past productions (with the promise of seat time!), I decided to work from their place for the day.
By now you should know Donut Media works with the best in the business — any business. Automotive enthusiasts are not strictly four-wheel aficionados. Which is why pro BMX rider Coco Zurita was also there to work remotely with the crew. Take Coco: You might have seen him on the X-Games putting on a show with his bike, but today he brought out a bigger monster, his Nitto Tire-sponsored Rocket Bunny Nissan R35 GT-R. With a fresh set of Nitto Tire NT01s, he's ready to put on a different kind of show, but more on that later.
When someone in the small world of automotive enthusiasm does something like rent a racetrack, the tendency is to call some of their friends and collaborators, and make the most of it. Joining Donut Media in their popup office was Clarion USA, on behalf of their Clarion Builds initiative, which might best be thought of as the performance division of one of the world’s foremost audio equipment experts. Putting their money squarely in the place of this claim was their Autowave-built Acura NSX, now flexing over 400 whp thanks to a Comptech supercharger and AEM Infinity ECU added to the 3.2L V6 and six-speed manual transmission.
If your love for cars parallels another unconventional sport, namely BMX, you might already be familiar with Coco Zurita. When Coco’s not earning BMX medals, he’s honing his mettle behind the wheel learning to drift his 700 whp beast. Or hanging out with his dog. Or both.
Track days are always fun — doubly so when you get to drive cars that are infinitely cooler than yours around the track. Our day started with some casual chatting with the Clarion crew about the build and characteristics of their NSX, and with Chris and the Donut crew about his 500 whp Nissan S30 280Z and Infiniti M35 sedan. After trying our best to pay attention to all of that, it was time to strap helmets on and go for a ride.
And after that, it was time to hop in the driver’s seat!
Despite sending over 400 horses to rear wheels clad in relatively conservative rubber, the Clarion NSX feels absolutely planted. Power deliver is smooth and linear, with a nice, fat torque curve.
And even though it’s a '91 model with over 230,000 miles (wow!) in its chassis, the car seemed completely solid and responded to every input, impressively so. The Infinity ECU started right up in OEM fashion and delivered hiccup-free power as reliably as if it came straight from the Honda factory.
Mid-engined cars are notoriously unforgiving when rear traction is broken, so we held back driving the car too aggressively. But the amount of grip it gave us in return hinted that we weren’t pushing it anywhere near as far as it would go.
Representing the complete opposite end of the tuning spectrum, in many ways, was Chris Forsberg’s GT Award-winning ‘75 Nissan 280Z. With its front-engine/RWD layout, 500 hp turbo-upgraded Skyline RB25DET powerplant and also relatively conservative rear rubber, it was the rough, snarling, tail-happy yin to the NSX’s refined yang.
“It’s OK,” Chris said at the end of our first trip around the track. “You can say it. It’s a little nuts.” It is a little nuts, but in a very, very fun way. If you can drive it like Chris Forsberg, that is!
Claiming status as the only dedicated drift car in attendance was Chris’ M35. Over 500 hp from a 5.6L VK56DE Nissan Titan engine, a gutted/caged interior and four seats make for an awesome time, and Chris linked nearly every turn of the Streets of Willow course with us lucky passengers in tow, slaying a set of tires with each lap.
And finally, there was Coco’s GT-R: Not a race car, not a drift car, but combining a lot of both in an awesome street car made it too cool to just touch upon here. Stay tuned for more details; we will have a full feature on it soon!
Cake in the Breakroom
The day of our tracktime festivities also happened to be Chris Forsberg’s birthday, and to show some appreciation to him for working on his birthday (since eight hours of working is still working, even if it involves driving fast cars), the Donut crew surprised him with some fake champagne, vegan cake and tone-deaf singing during our lunch break (but oddly enough, no donuts).
Nonetheless, he seemed to appreciate the gesture.
After the instruction had been given and track time thoroughly enjoyed, it was time to get to the business at hand: filming for an upcoming Donut Media production involving Chris and his cars, as well as a second production starring Chris, Coco and his GT-R — which we suspect will be called something along the lines of “Teach Coco to Drift,” since it, well...involved teaching Coco how to drift.
Now, Coco already knows how to drift. He’s got the skills of maintaining donuts and initiating long, smoky drifts down pat — which is impressive, since his car is still an automatic and equipped with the OEM handbrake.
But for him to progress to transitioning from turn to turn around a race course as opposed to a parking lot, everyone thought it best to enlist the help of one of the absolute best drifters of our time. And a little friendly heckling to go along with it all.
Chris began by explaining the finer points of linking turns from behind the wheel of his M35, with Coco in the passenger seat.
Then, hopping into the passenger seat of Coco’s GT-R, Chris coached him on what to do along a few smaller turns of the Streets of Willow course. After a few entertaining spinouts, our dude linked his two turns, and if that wasn’t enough, transitioned directly into a long, smoky sweeper for our cameras.
I think he's got it!
Time to Clock Out
Keep an eye out for Donut Media productions coming out of our recent track day. And again, we have an exclusive look at Coco’s Nitto Tire GT-R sliding here real soon. I'm sure the collaboration between Donut and Coco will be simply...Coco-Nuts! (Get it!?)