GT Academy returns with racing career top prize

By Andrew Yoon, Apr 16, 2012 3:00pm PDT

Let's face it: some reality series' prizes suck. For example, you might win a date with Tila Tequila or Flavor Flav. Or, you might end up becoming a video game tester. But, one reality series lets you become a professional race car driver, a career that is probably only bested by "professional ice cream taster" and "mattress comfort test-driver."

To vie for your chance to become a fully sponsored race car driver, you may want to dust off your copy of Gran Turismo 5. Once again, Sony's racing sim is being used in a nationwide competition to make someone's racing ambitions a reality.

A new demo of Gran Turismo 5 will be released in May, featuring a series of virtual driving trials. (That means anyone, with or without a copy of the game, can participate.) The best performing virtual racers will then be weeded out through a grueling "Race Camp" competition in August, where one victor will train with Nissan to become part of a professional team.

Bryan Heitkotter won last year's season of GT Academy, and is still continuing his career. He's now racing a Nissan 370Z Nismo RC in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series. That season aired on Speed Network, and was also free to download via the PlayStation Store.

"It makes me very proud to see the graduates of the GT Academy racing around the world with Nissan," series creator Kazunori Yamauchi said on the PlayStation.Blog. "You don't have to be an expert to have a go," he added, encouraging all gamers to give the challenge a test drive.

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