For three years, Nissan has hosted a web series, GT Academy, whose intent is to find legitimate, IRL talent from a pool of virtual, video-game-playing racers. With a fair amount of crunched cars and hot tempers, the youth competitors have raced, run and argued and this season, the paddock is showing the fruits of that series: winners Jann Mardenborough and Lucas Ordonez will be piloting Nissan’s new, highly experimental front-wheel drive GT-R LM NISMO at Le Mans.
Ordonez, in fact, has already finished a race on the podium in another Nissan, capturing headlines around the world. In response, other teams are tapping the youth. The Morand Team is planning to fill its BMW V8-powered Morgan LMP2 prototype with the winner of its Race to 24 program and take it racing.
While reality shows have never been huge forces for good, this kind of televised competition is one we can get behind: unsensational racing on the track between talented young people who might not otherwise have considered a racing career. And unlike some shows, where the prize is intangible (America’s Next Top…), the winners of this show get contracts and seat time in honest-to-goodness racecars. Against the expectations of parents everywhere, it looks like Grand Turismo V just might be the means to a fantastic future career.