GT Academy Hits USA

Confirming what we heard back in February, the American iteration of GT Academy has been unveiled today. Registration will commence on December 6th for the familiar three-phase competition with the 2011 winner being trained and enrolled as a professional racing driver in preparation for a “major race event” next year, along with a “reality TV” show on SPEED chronicling the whole competition.

Details to date suggest the preliminary virtual rounds will be a test of driver skill in Gran Turismo 5 using  “pre-selected Nissan vehicles” (which only slightly narrows the field for anyone looking for sneaky practice) and all entrants will receive “free digital content” just for playing – prompting yet more rumours about Downloadable Content. The top 32 drivers will then be invited to a live GT5 National Finals, with the 16 leading players taken to the by-now familiar GT Academy Boot Camp.

Thanks to deep_sky on GTPlanet for the tip-off!

Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (SCEA) and Polyphony Digital Inc., in collaboration with Nissan North America, announced today the opportunity of a lifetime for gaming and racing enthusiasts — the debut of the GT Academy in the U.S. Starting December 20th, fans can compete in Gran Turismo® 5 exclusively on the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) for a chance to make dreams of becoming a race driver with a professional team a reality. Registration for the GT Academy competition begins on December 6th, and fans who think they have what it takes can find more information about the program at:

GT Academy will challenge gamers and racing fans alike across the U.S. to compete in a series of online time trials in pre-selected Nissan vehicles in Gran Turismo 5. All participants will earn free digital content just for playing, as well as have an opportunity to win prizes for winning regional time trials. The top 32 virtual racers in the country will be invited to compete in the live national finals event in March 2011 to become one of 16 GT Academy finalists. The 16 finalists will compete against each other in a series of challenges, including behind the wheel of real Nissan race cars, for a chance to become a professional race car driver as the GT Academy winner for the U.S. The winner will have the opportunity to train with elite race car drivers at international tracks and race as part of a professional team.

Available only on PS3 on November 24, 2010, Gran Turismo 5 features realistic driving physics and graphics that set new standards in the Gran Turismo franchise. Gran Turismo 5 will deliver the most realistic and comprehensive racing experience available, including more than 1,000 licensed cars, a Course Maker, and a robust online racing community. Additionally, Gran Turismo 5 integrates stereoscopic 3D technology, bringing a new layer of realism to racing fans.

“With the upcoming launch of Gran Turismo 5, it’s a very exciting time to team with Nissan to announce GT Academy,” said Scott A. Steinberg, VP of Product Marketing, SCEA. “With the realistic racing experience that only Gran Turismo 5 provides, GT Academy will identify someone who truly has the skills to become a pro race car driver, providing the chance of a lifetime to win the ultimate prize.”

“This is a great opportunity for Nissan to bring GT Academy to the U.S. and support the launch of Gran Turismo 5” said Jon Brancheau, Vice President Marketing, Nissan. “Gran Turismo 5 provides an amazingly realistic racing experience and we’re taking that to the next level by putting 16 finalists behind the wheel of a Nissan race car with the chance to become a race driver with a professional team. Nissan vehicles are known for innovation and performance, so this is a perfect way to demonstrate and deliver on that promise.”

The competitors’ road to victory will be documented in a multi-episode reality show airing exclusively on SPEED channel and the PlayStation®Network in 2011. The reality show series will start filming in March 2011 from the GT Academy finals through training as a pro race driver.

The overall competition will run as follows:

Phase One

Racing enthusiasts will put their racing and gaming skills to the test as they compete in various regional online ladders playing Gran Turismo 5 on PlayStation®Network. Finalists will then participate in a live head-to-head competition.

Phase Two

16 lucky finalists emerge from the live event and go behind the wheel of real cars, including the Nissan 370Z and GT-R, at a comprehensive GT Academy ‘boot camp’. The ‘boot camp’ will be featured as part of a multi-episode reality show to air on SPEED.

Phase Three

The 2011 U.S. Winner will train to become a professional driver in preparation for competing as part of a professional team at a major race event.

For full terms and conditions and more information about GT Academy please visit:

Edit: A full list of rules has been released on the 2011 GT Academy portion of the official site and, sorry Canadians, but it’s only for “legal U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older as of December 6, 2010.”.

Comments (135)

  1. lapierre4

    That’s really sad because I am Canadian and I would have got good chances to make it to the national finals because last year I finished 5th in Canada… But I couldn’t pick up my prize (GT PSP) because I was only 16 and now I’m 17. So maybe when I become elligible, Canada is included!

  2. Joe J

    Finally, the Americans will stop complaining about being left out of things now, and will stop using the European competition as a counter point when people say “the US gets everything”.

    Think of countries like, say, Singapore, India, Argentina. What have they ever got?

  3. Jump_Ace

    I’m cautiously optimistic, I wish I wasn’t so out of practice, but I just can’t play Prologue anymore :( I highly doubt I’ll even make the top 64, LOL.


  4. pk_090

    so finally the yanks will stop winging and complaining about us Europeans having GT academy… when will us europeans have a chance at winning a tissot watch…..

    1. Philmangt

      The funny thing is, that none of them will know how to drive well enough to win anything because too used to driving in forza lol

    2. GoldUltima

      Gran Turismo 5 sucks! The game looks like it’s running on the PS1! The physics are stupid and hard and there’s too many cars! I can’t believe how much this game suuuuu…… Really?! I real race car driver?! I can finally put all of my watching of “The Fast and Furious” and racing with a laggy wireless wheel that only turns 360 degrees in total, which only makes the game more accurate!

  5. Super_Colossal

    I was seriously going to go to Licoln Tech to start my long pursuit to be a professional driver. If I was able to do this…you have no idea how happy I’d be. I’m going to practice my ass off at this. I’m 18…know how to drive stick…live in Maryland…and I think I’m pretty good at GT. I seriously hope I can do it. To all you out there competing later on…good luck, and I’ll hope to keep you in my rear-view :)

  6. falango

    Awesome, cuz ya know I didn’t want to take part anyway……
    Thanks for excluding Canada Sony. Totally appreciate it!!

  7. dbarrade

    This is fantastic, playing the last time trial, focusing and really trying to get a better time was the best online gaming experience I’ve ever had, and with real GT5 now, this just gets better and better.

    Good luck to all GTP’ers!

    1. BWX

      TRACKS are what we need though.. Cars are fine but we need more tracks. I’ll pay for them whatever.. just give them to us.

    2. nevelo

      i wish for infineon,motegi,el capitan to be back and spa asap.later i’d really like hockenheim,siverstone,brands hatch,sebring…all those legendary race tracks are really needed in gt.

    3. Rotard12a

      A lot of people are bummed about not enough tracks, but look at the bright side: No more wasting precious hours of your life putting around lame filler tracks like the “Driving Park”!

      Seriously, the bland, surreal sterility of that fictional understeer-fest was so traumatizing that, in my mind, it is the TRUE “Green Hell”

  8. ML

    is this going to be like the time trial demo with the 370Z @ Indy where you can’t tune the car to match your driving style? I’m not looking to put mods or anything. I’m looking to adjust spring rates, tyre pressures, brake balance….*SOMETHING*

    1. occasionalracer

      I doubt it, because they just want to see a fair comparison of what people can get out of the car. It’s only proper.

    2. Benny44

      occasionalracer, which one did you doubt? that you can tune your car or you can’t? I can see an argument for both sides. On one hand it’s only fair to have completely equal cars, but on the other hand, a racer should know his car inside and out and there are significantly different driving styles, even among the pros.

    1. occasionalracer

      I think in this case if they are strict about this and your I.P. doesn’t match up with America you won’t be able to compete as you see a few posts up that you automatically will be placed in your appropriate region. Maybe not though, but then anyone around the world could enter and clutter the competition.

    2. Brandon

      Sometimes DLC is region locked. Hopefully not the case. I’m American but think we should all get the same content worldwide.

    3. Benny44

      It’s simple to make a fake account. Just make a new user and say you are from the states. (I guess everybody already knows that anyway)I can actually see the border from where I live, it’s less than a five minute walk. I cross almost every day for the necessities. (milk, gas, etc.) My buddy lives in Maine, I may be visiting him if the fake account doesn’t work. Besides, it’s not like I will make it to the top 32 anyway. I’ve played all the GTs, but I know enough to know that I just don’t have the time to put in that a lot of people have. Mostly I just want the DLC.

    4. boblikepie

      making a fake account will only work if you have a copy of GT5 from North America. It will not work in Europe cause dlc is region locked. I’m from Australia and have gotten games from the US before and downloaded free dlc from it from the Aus store and you can’t use it in game. If anyone from outside US is thinking of making a fake account to get the free content don’t bother as you won’t be able to access it.

  9. propiro98

    Sorry boys…Canada gets screwed again….
    Why do they bother to mention North America if it is just the states???? United States…..North America?! The US is even 2nd in land mass in North America…

    Anyways these are the regions available from the offical rules site.

    Contest Regions. Regions are as follows:
    GT Academy West:
    Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.

    GT Academy Southeast:
    Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas

    GT Academy Midwest:
    Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin

    GT Academy Northeast:
    Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, DC, West Virginia

  10. Daniel Learmouth

    I reckon this should be shown in the UK as well, seeing as how GT Academy was originally filmed and aired in the UK.

    1. BWX

      @propiro98 Who gives a rat’s a.. about landmass? What does that have to do with anything? Population of one state Florida, about the same as Australia. What is Canada’s population? I don’t even know ……or care. :-/

  11. TakeshiSkunk

    Very cool!

    Now is this going to be a tuning as well as driving challenge, or are you only allowed to use pre-made setups on the cars? If tuning isn’t a factor I think I stand a better chance :P

    1. Mig

      imo it would be a pre made/stock setup maby with some better tyres. that way everything is on a level playing field and it comes down to pure driving skill

  12. occasionalracer

    Bummer. I know that many countries in the previous Acadamys were left out, even within Europe, but for only a single country to get this competition to itself is not very nice. I understand SPEED is American but Nissan and PD should consider anyone with consistently quick and aggressive laps. But maybe it’s the fear of a Canadian being a finalist on American that wouldn’t fly well with SPEED.

    1. occasionalracer

      Yes I know, and in contrast Canada’s population is only 30 mil., so it’s really no huge deal to give the few up here the same chance.

    2. occasionalracer

      And I might add that the previous Acadamy’s overseas had a much higher amount of contestants than USA ever will. For instance USA has a bit more than 3 times the population than Germany but is 28 times larger, so that goes to show the much higher chances that you will have and for Canada to be included is like nothing. SPEED also airs in Canada and it’s hard to understand what the reason could be. Airfare is the same for the finalists is the same whether you live in Toronto or NYC.

    3. Rotard12a

      Don’t blame PD and definitely not Nissan, blame SCEA. Just as SCEE determined where the last GT Academy would be, SCEA is in charge of this one.

    4. nismofreak

      The population of US is close to Europe. I don’t see where the slight is for just doing this for US for now.

      I do agree that they should allow for others to broadcast to the rest of the world or just Canada, if they are interested but again, I don’t see the issue with SPEED getting the exclusive rights for the US broadcast.

    1. TTownEP

      The official rules say it’s at Silverstone again:

      1. Silverstone Event (“Event”)

      1.1. All National Final Winners will be notified in writing by the Promoter as soon as practicable after the National Final and invited to take part in the Event (up to a seven day event which will take place at Silverstone racing circuit in the UK during the period of April, 2011. National Final Winners must claim their prize within 48 hours of the notification.

      1.2. In the event that a National Final Winner does not wish to continue participating in the Promotion, or fails to claim their Prize within the relevant deadline, or is disqualified from the Promotion in accordance with the Terms and Conditions, the Promoter may at its discretion select a substitute Qualifying Entrant to become a National Final Winner. Such substitute entrant shall have participated in the same National Final as the original Qualifying Entrant and shall have passed all relevant medical tests and recorded the next fastest time trials.

      1.3. The following shall be arranged for each National Final Winner:

      1.3.1 Economy class return flights from an international airport of the National Final Winner;
      1.3.2 Transfers to and from Silverstone racing circuit and the London airport or train station;
      1.3.3 Up to 7 nights’ accommodation at the Silverstone Facility;
      1.3.4 Travel insurance; and
      1.3.5 Meals and refreshments during the Event.

      Winners are responsible for their transport to and from their home and their nearest international airport or train station.

    1. Rotard12a

      Or Rolex 24 at Daytona road course!

      If you make it the whole 24 hours without botching turn 1 you’re automatically a finalist :)

    2. Chad.D

      if anything, it’ll be the road course version of daytona, but i hope its Eiger Nordwand, that would be awsome, but i doubt it,(I’D WHOOP YOU ALL!) not really, lol, but since i’m 18, i’m definitely taking part in this

  13. Thor


    Look, I’m middle aged, balding, overweight and have six kids. But I’m taking a shot at this damn it. Now it’s time to get serious.

    1. occasionalracer

      Sorry to be blunt, but in no way would you have a chance at being the lucky person to race in the end. You’ve gotta be fit and surly can’t be hauling around those extra pounds lap after lap… that extra weight could be better put to use as fuel.

    2. occasionalracer

      Very good, I thought you were referring to lap times, but if your able to change your lifestyle for the better, I wish you the best. Good luck, but don’t neglect your kids in the meantime.

    3. GoldUltima


      You obviously didn’t hear that he’s super serial about this. >=3 By time this is done, he will have abs of steel and regrown his hair so he’s sexy for the cameras. Mark my words.


      Seriously though, good luck man. I just want it to be all people from this site. Hopefully everyone plugs the site if they get on too. =P

    4. occasionalracer

      I was being a little rude to even say that and was sincerely apologizing and wishing him luck, I didn’t mean to come across as cocky, cause that’s the worst trait to have as a race driver, or in this case a virtual racer, plus English is my second language and can sometimes be misinterpreted.

    5. Thor


      No problem. What you said didn’t bother me.

      I have no regrets in life. But, let’s face it, as you get older there are certain things that become more difficult to achieve. Life is about trying. I am going to try to do this and be passionate about it. I will measure my success by how hard I try, I will have fun and get the most out of the experience that I can. I wish everyone the best of luck and I’ll see all of you online in GT5.

    6. robulus

      This isn’t reality. This is reality TV. If you make good television, you’ve got as good a shot as anyone. Good luck to you Sir!

    7. GoldUltima


      I hope it wasn’t my comment that made you feel kinda like a jerk because it wasn’t meant to. I was just being silly for the most part. =P

  14. Stune

    This is great for the US, but im not sure if it will be as competitive as the ‘rest of world’ GT academy given its just the one country competing. 32 US drivers are in for a fun experience if nothing else

    1. Stune

      No, of course not. I’m saying that they have less competition due to the total number of potential applicants. I might be wrong but wasn’t it just 20 who made it to Silverstone? 32 finalists gives from a single country gives a much wider window of opportunity.

    2. Rotard12a

      @ Nsane1

      *facepalm* Jesus dude, check your facts before you say things like that. You’re already on the internet, it would have taken 20 seconds to wikipedia “United States” and then “Europe”

      I hope you’re either very young or not from the US, because this is just embarrassing…

  15. Famine

    Official site updated. The contest is only open to “legal U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older as of December 6, 2010.”. Sorry, Canada (and Mexico).

    1. Patrocles

      Mexico is part of North America (as are many other nations). No need to put the country in parentheses! :)

    1. GTP_Dessy

      The european version will probably be announced soon. The last two were a success so they should announce another to tie in with the GT5 release

  16. R1600Turbo

    Man I can’t wait for this. I think I have a pretty good shot at being competitive. Looks like one of my first purchases in GT5 will be a 370Z, and practice, practice, practice.

    1. lucag120

      hey r1600, remember me?! we had a chat on forums about GT academy and driving with controllers ealier in the year.

      we are both controller users, last GT academy i placed 78th in australia, like 1thousandth behind Yamauchi.

      DO you have a wheel yet??? next GT academy for me i want to get on to improve my pace.

      GOOD LUCK!!

    2. Nsane1

      I agree, but I have a feeling that the GTR will be their car of choice. It is the car that comes with the Collectors Edition with the GT academy livery.

      Either way I have a feeling I’m buying nothing but Nissan’s until after it is announced.

    1. JustSiDEWaYz

      Yea I know I run a r/c drift club, and thats my screen name. I definitely know the difference between slip and grip.

    1. occasionalracer

      When they say North America I’m pretty sure they’re aware it’s a continent. There’s been plenty of cases where it was specifically said for US residents, so in this case Canada is in.

    2. Famine

      Though the text does mention the US specifically a couple of times, it also refers to North America. I couldn’t say if Canada (or even Mexico) are included or not based on the press release.

      Edit: Official site update says it doesn’t include Canada (or Mexico). USA only.

    3. occasionalracer

      Well now that I’ve read over this thing again it’s not looking that promising for Canadians. It would be too bad because I remember in last time a Canadian came first in The North American leaderboards, I can’t see why they can’t include a few from up north. I really enjoyed those leaderboard charts that they released showing individuals changing positions in relation to the time before the competition closed.

    4. neb

      Yes, I remember that chart/table, it was pretty interesting. I’m not saying I’d make it in for sure if Canada was included, but last year I was in the top 100 for a while, and then didn’t have time to keep trying, and ended up 132nd or somewhere there in Canada. This time the prize is much more worth it, so I’d definitely make time for it, and maybe do good enough. I guess we just play the waiting game now.

    5. occasionalracer

      If Canada is North Mexico then USA is New Mexico. Canada isn’t a wannabe, they just be, and are good people with a broader view of the world than Americans who seem blind to what’s happening outside of it’s boarders. I’m not hating, cause America has done some very special things, but it seems everything the country is built up on, is entertainment and this could be a problem for the future and there are many youth who are completely lost.

    6. Patrocles

      Oh Canada? Oh yeah, America’s backyard!
      Is is true the Canadian National anthem lyrics say near the end,
      “O Canada, we stand on cars for thee”

      Mexico is part of North America, too. Therefore, not need to state “(Mexico)” with parentheses(sp).


      canadians are typically much cooler than Americans but yea, Canada does miss out on a lot of stuff that us asshole Americans get.

  17. occasionalracer

    Dope! This is my chance to appear on National Television. Thanks PD and Nissan for doing this in North America now!

    1. AGNT009

      In all honesty, I could turn my life in any direction now, after my divorce. But, this is a LOOOOONG shot. Even if I won the event, the odds of being a successful racecar driver are about as good as winning the lottery. And frankly, after watching my hero Dale Earnhardt die right in front of me (on tv) I dont feel safe in anything but the current NASCAR stock cars. Why cant they just have a freakin competition where you win a trophy, take pictures with the trophy girl, and lots of braggging rights? To compete, and not look lame, you have to give your life to this. Asking too much for most people I think. Id like to see some companies just sponsor their own GT5 competitions for cash prizes, trophies, trophy girls, etc, get the brand recognized more, and the love from GT5 fans. Then the winner goes back to work on Monday.

    2. AGNT009

      @Why If thats supposed to make me jealous, LMAO, you can HAVE her buddy. I didnt walk out on her ass for no reason. Oh, and shes a dead fish in bed. Have fun.

    3. WHY?

      Lol Just playing with ya, at least I’ve made you laugh xD
      We need a little bit of sense of humor around here sometimes.. Ya Dig? =D


      so I’m hoping how we enter is on the gt site. I’m assuming an online event will be set up and we just enter it, whoever get’s a good enough lap time is notified and needs to provide proof of residence. I’m going to start “training” for this. I’ve done a little real life racing and I think this would take my skills to the next level. I can only hope my GT5 skills will be up to par

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