Earlier this July, we checked out Nissan Motorsports and Gran Turismo's fourth installment of GT Academy USA. How this year's competition works is the top 32 drivers in the country were brought to New York City to compete based on three components: video game tournament—something they're all familiar with; autocross—taking their gaming skills to the track, and finally they'll be judged on a media interview—are they good in front of the camera? Thirty-two contestants would be narrowed down to 12, and the last competitor who comes out on top will win a spot on the NISMO racing team.
The action started at MetLife Stadium just outside NYC, where a makeshift autocross course was built. The weapon of choice—'14 NISMO 370Zs, beautiful cars inside and out from their tuned engine, suspension, brakes and exhaust, to the clean, yet aggressive, aero design, 19" forged RAYS wheels and interior. The driving was definitely interesting to watch. Some of the drivers showed very good control and a quality understanding of racing line concepts while some struggled with braking and gauging when to let off the throttle. For the most part, the general mood that day was excitement and enthusiasm mixed with a bit of anxiety. Could you blame them though?
The next day was set in Times Square, where the GT Academy provided contestants with gorgeous racing simulators complete with Recaro seats and Sony electronics. Last year's winner, Nick McMillen, was present for both days, and his story is a testament to what this opportunity could result in. Less than five months after winning GT Academy, he earned his spot on NISMO's racing team with a first place finish at 24 Hours of Dubai in the SP2 class.
The stakes are very high as the top 32 guys chase their dreams and attempt to make the transition from gaming to racing. You can follow along starting November 7th on Spike, as well as MTV2, Hulu and YouTube at later dates to see the competition unfold.