The virtual driving simulator Gran Turismo can make you a better driver and even serve as a stepping stone to a career in professional racing — in the real world. A little skeptical? Jay Leno is too.
The GT Academy, created in 2008 by Nissan and Sony, is a program through which talented gamers compete in difficult, real-life challenges for a chance to become professional race car drivers. Since 2008, the academy has graduated 20 drivers out of more than four million applicants.
On Thursday's episode of CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," the host takes a ride with its first ever champion, Ricardo Sanchez, and Leno does not exactly look comfortable in the passenger seat of the 2017 Nissan GT-R NISMO.
"You know, he's awful confident considering he's never been here before," he tells viewers as Sanchez whips around the Willow Springs race track. But the gamer-turned-pro is at ease because he has been there, at least virtually. "It's just the same [as in the game]," he tells Leno. It's all familiar, "the curves, the runoff areas, the references."