Now in its third year, the U.S. version of the Nissan GT Academy will make its season premiere on SPIKE TV on Nov. 11, 2013, featuring 12 new drivers and one new drivee: the 2014 Nissan Juke Nismo.
With regard to the former, they're the 12 finalists in the annual driver-search contest presented by Nissan and Sony/Playstation, who rely on performance in the Gran Turismo videogame for the qualifying criteria. More than 400,000 virtual racers took the green flag to begin the competition, and the dashing dozen still in the race will participate in a televised series of challenges—including real-world driving events in the 2014 Nissan JUKE Nismo, 370Z NISMO and GT-R—to help determine the final winner.
Also pitching in on the judging panel will be motorsports legends Danny Sullivan and Boris Said, with former NFL player Dhani Jones hosting the show.
And remember, this is very much the real deal. The No. 1 graduate of the Nissan GT Academy will join one of the automaker's factory-supported racing programs and gain invaluable driving experience in international competition. In fact, the first winner of the European GT Academy program—Luis Ordonez—just wrapped up the Pro-Am championship in the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series while behind the wheel of a Nissan GT-R.
"We are excited to announce the third season of the GT Academy show and to further our relationship with PlayStation and SPIKE TV after last year's success. At Nissan, performance and excitement is at the heart of our brand, and the third season will deliver both for our audience. We are confident the Season 3 winner will demonstrate speed, strength and soul: all qualities of a Nissan Motorsports Athlete that will translate into success on the track for Nissan," said Jon Brancheau, vice president, Marketing, Nissan North America.
Oh, and as for the 2014 Nissan JUKE Nismo, it's currently at dealerships with an MSRP of $22,990 on the hood and 197 hp under it.