Nissan GT Academy
Imagine if this was
your daily driver
Nissan and Sony held the first GT Academy in 2008, and since then the program has been defying both common sense and motorsports tradition. The academy takes people who are good at video games and, in a matter of months, turns them into professional drivers.
In 2008, Spain’s Lucas Ordonez was a 23-year-old student who had never driven a real racecar. Then he won GT Academy Europe. This year, he was on the podium at Germany’s famed Nürburgring, and has a shot at the F1 circuit.
In the summer of 2011, 19-year-old Welshman Jann Mardenborough won the second installment of GT Academy Europe. Six months later he had an international racing license and by January, he was standing on the podium with his GT Academy teammates at the 24 Hours of Dubai.
2011 also saw the very first edition of GT Academy USA. Bryan Heitkotter, a laid-off
parts deliveryman from Fresno, won the competition. He went on to train alongside Jann Mardenborough at Silverstone, and stood with him on that podium in Dubai. In 2012, he competed at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway. To recap, in 2011, he was unemployed. In 2012, he was racing at Indy.
In 2012, Steve Doherty, a mechanic from Plainfield, Illinois, took GT Academy’s checkered flag and the cherished red helmet in the show’s finale. From there, he raced under the pseudonym “Dan Mitchell” (so as not to give away the show’s ending before it aired) in various development series in Europe, working towards his international racing license. In January, he teamed up with three other GT Academy drivers to race to a top 10 finish in the Dubai 24 Hours.
The dream happened for these guys. The question is: who’s next? You?
How to Play
Play the video game
If you're already playing Gran Turismo® on your Playstation®, keep doing that. If you don't already have it, get it, and start playing. Then, keep playing. Follow this simple advice and you'll be ready to go when the next GT Academy free demo is available. You could be the next gamer to go from virtual to reality.
Learn about the cars
As cool and realistic as Gran Turismo® is, it'll never give you the true sensation of taking a real corner in a real car on a real track. In the game, you don't feel the heat in the cockpit or the track screaming by just inches underneath the seat. You don't worry about the gas in the tank or how many miles are left on the tires. In a real 370Z® or GT-R®, you can experience that. Learn about those cars.
If all goes well – really well – you might just make it to Silverstone. If you're lucky enough to do that, know this: GT Academy isn't a gimmick or a stunt. It's a real competition with real competitors on a real racetrack in a real car. It could be dangerous. The people who win this competition quit their jobs, quit school, move away, and become professional racecar drivers.