Many boys want to become firemen and many girls dream of a career as a princess. After I was allowed to visit the GT Academy in Silverstone, my wish would be very clear: Mommy, I want to be a racing driver!
The GT Academy is based on the idea of looking for the best players in the Playstation game Grand Turismo (GT) and testing them for their real skills on the racetrack. Of the 16 gamers at the beginning, the 12 best are sent to the so-called Race Camp in Silverstone. Here you can expect new exams and tests every day and what is probably the hardest and most beautiful week of your life.
This idea is now being implemented around the world. For example in Germany since 2012. A few weeks ago the second search for the best racing driver in Germany started and I was lucky enough to watch some of the challenges of the 12 selected guys and even experience them myself.
I was spared two things: on the one hand, the typical racing conditions that already prevail here. The boys all have to sleep together in cots in a room right next to the racetrack and get ready in festival-like showers in front of the building after a hard day. To do this, they have to eat what their training schedule and “good British” cuisine allow. They are left with the most intimate moments, but a camera team is always on their heels. And on the other hand: the constant observation and evaluation by all those responsible, including the jury, which this year consists of Nick Heidfeld, Sila Sahin and Jean-Pierre Kraemer.
As uncomfortable as it sounds, it doesn’t really seem to bother anyone. Everyone is here to make their dream come true. The general conditions are of little interest. And I can understand that, because my day began with a simulated challenge in which I was allowed to drive the Nissan GT-R over the National Circuit.
Personally, I was hesitant at first and didn’t immediately dare to give a lot of gas on the wet track, but thanks to my incredibly patient instructor Markus, I was able to improve lap by lap. And it was just a lot of fun! You can hardly imagine what it is like to have such a racetrack (almost) to yourself and to take advantage of it with 550 horses. I would immediately forget any inconvenience.
At the Stowe Circuit, all press representatives (like the Academy participants the day before) could then test out the Nissan Juke Nismo. On this short stretch, driving skills are clearly more important than the number of horsepower of the car.
Speaking of driving skills: This was then tested on a free space with the 370Z using a drift course. I failed miserably there, but had to laugh all the time and really enjoyed the rubber smell in my hair! Looking back, I kind of feel sorry for the poor car.
On the second day of my visit I could see the boys themselves sweating. In the wet and cold, and in the early morning, they jogged to their first challenge of the day and had no idea that this jog was already part of the challenge itself. What was waiting for them afterwards, they didn’t have in mind either. Suffice it to say: It stayed wet, cold, exhausting and of course had to do with speed. They didn’t know either that the boys had to step on the gas in a second challenge on a former military site on the same day – but we did. Personally, I would have liked to try this exercise because the lasers, flares, and paintball guns looked very tempting. Anyone who has already become curious: In October, RTL will again broadcast the best pictures of the Race Camp this year.
During the tour through the so-called Nismo Lab, all press representatives could then test whether they had what it takes to become racing drivers. Among other things, a complete analysis of the body was carried out, in which, in addition to many other data, the muscle, water and fat percentage (!) In the body were measured. If my friend says again from today on: “Honey, you are not too fat” then I know for sure: He is lying! But back to the racing qualities and the question of who has what it takes to be a racing driver: the only two women present cleared away! Simone ended up in first place with one percent more, followed by me.
Later there was the possibility, just like the GT Academy participants, to drive the 370Z as a right-hand drive over the National Circuit. I took the opportunity to ask the Russian 2012 winner Mark Shulzhitskiy and the German 2012 winner Peter Pyzera for a ride. These two are really living their dream because they clearly enjoyed going on the gas.
So after this weekend the bottom line is: I need a Playstation very quickly!
Text: Larissa Rutkowski
Photos: Nissan, Simone Armores