Spacesuit Orbital Run: mission success

A team of three drivers set a distance of 1432 miles in 24 hours on the M25, UK, in the inaugural Spacesuit Orbital Run. 

Andretti Formula E reserve driver Alexander Sims, endurance racer Jody Fannin and Spacesuit Media director Ross Ringham shared the wheel of a BMW i8 hybrid supercar. The challenge began at 4pm on Saturday 3 June 2016 and finished at 4pm today, with stops for driver swaps and refuelling at Clacket Lane service station, Kent. The team managed to cover 12 complete laps of the motorway, negotiating traffic jams, lane closures, roadworks and inclement weather.

“Spacesuit Orbital Run was a way to find adventure in unusual places; to take an ordinary setting and see it in an extraordinary new light,” says Ringham. “Along the way, we had fun, played a few mild pranks on each other, showed what an unbelievable machine the i8 is and raised money for children’s charity Buttle UK.”

The drivers took it in turns to complete stints of one or two laps at a time, to ensure each had adequate rest over the period. “This was actually a lot harder in many ways than endurance racing,” says Fannin. “On a track, you don’t have very long before each corner so you’re constantly thinking about adjustments and the best line. Here, you need the same levels of concentration but of course the road is much more open, so it can be harder to keep up your concentration levels for long periods without getting bored.”

Getting familiar with the i8 helped alleviate some boredom, as did not-so-subtle adjustments to radio settings. Ringham was dismayed to find that the radio was set on a football broadcast when he climbed in for his first stint (he is not a football fan), a plight made worse when he couldn’t work out how to change the radio. Equally, Fannin wasn’t pleased to discover Radio 4 had been locked in when he climbed in for his last stint – complaining that The Archers wasn’t really the ideal sort of driving accompaniment.

Sims wasn’t left out. The other drivers stored a special pack of chocolates for him in the boot of car – a place which gets rather warm thanks to the close proximity of the three cylinder 1.5l petrol engine. Needless to say, by the time the confectionery was retrieved for the BMW works racing driver, it was rather more fluid than solid.

On completion of the challenge, each driver received a special “finisher’s trophy”, an oak-framed floating model of the M25, created by renowned model makers Grahm & Leigh, as well as a pack of professional-grade car care products from event sponsor ValetPro.

The event has been featured on BBC South East, Kent Live, BBC Radio Kent, BBC Surrey and BBC Sussex with more coverage expected in the coming weeks across other media. Photography was captured by Spacesuit Media artistic director Shiv Gohil and is available now at Spacesuit Collections, while a Spacesuit film crew is already hard at work translating hours of footage into a short movie about the subject.

Spacesuit Media will next be in action this coming weekend, with coverage of the Berlin Formula E race. After that, Gohil will be shooting the famous Le Mans 24 hour event for several racing drivers. You can still support Jody Fannin’s charity fundraiser at Just Giving

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