Recap of the 9th Annual Gran Turismo Awards
Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) hosted its ninth annual Gran Turismo® Awards at the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show last week at the Marquee Nightclub in the Cosmopolitan hotel of Las Vegas, embracing the passion of customizing cars and showcasing the efforts in the Gran Turismo franchise.
Each year, the Gran Turismo Awards offer SEMA show exhibitors the opportunity to join the ranks of the famed Gran Turismo racing fleet, awarding one car the honor of being added to the Gran Turismo franchise as a playable car in the game and driven virtually by millions across the globe.
Prior to SEMA 2011, all exhibitors were invited to enter their vehicles into the Gran Turismo Awards, which honor five different categories comprised of: "Best Domestic Automobile," "Best European Import," "Best Hot Rod," "Best Asian Import," and "Best Truck/SUV." Judges consisted of various respected automotive journalists representing media outlets such as Motor Trend, CNET, and Super Street with judging for each category based on a balance between performance, style, and speed. Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi then bestows the "Best in Show" award honor to one of these five category winners.
After heavy deliberation over dozens of entries, the 2011 Gran Turismo Awards "Best of Show" award went to "Best Hot Rod" winner Mary Pozzi for her 1973 custom Chevrolet Camaro. This stunning vehicle will be playable in a future installment of Gran Turismo.
Additional prizes were awarded to:
• "Best Truck/SUV" - Casey Scranton, CGS Performance Ford F150
• "Best Domestic Car" - Filip Trojanek, 1966 Widebody Ford Mustang
• "Best Asian Import" - Mike Mixon, custom Nissan 370Z
• "Best European Import" – Mark Arcenal, custom 1990 Porsche 911 C4
• "Best Hot Rod" - Mary Pozzi, custom 1973 Chevrolet Camaro
Also in attendance at the event was Bryan Heitkotter, the very first US winner of GT Academy. The GT Academy program, a collaboration between SCEA, Polyphony Digital Inc., and Nissan North America, gave consumers a chance to pursue the dream to become a real race car driver through Gran Turismo 5. Over 53,000 hopefuls registered for GT Academy, and Heitkotter rose to the top to become champion, and is now a Nissan-sponsored professional race car driver and part of a four-person team that will race the 24-hour race in Dubai in January 2012. Heitkotter's journey with GT Academy is currently being shown on the Speed Channel, PlayStation®Network, and Hulu, via a reality show series that chronicles the competition and the winner's road to stardom.
Closing out the night for attendees at the Marquee Nightclub was a special musical performance by Stone Temple Pilots.