29-year-old Steve Doherty was the 2012 North American winner of the Nissan GT Academy. Doherty was formerly an unemployed mechanic hailing from the U.S. Illinois town of Plainfield.
This win will allow Doherty to race in the upcoming United Arab Emirate, Dubai 24 Hour race that will take place on January 10, 2013. Doherty successfully beat out thousands of other race hopefuls, which included 15 of North America’s fastest virtual Gran Turismo racers finalists.
SPIKE TV broadcasted all of the challenges each contestant had to endure during the event, and the racers were all judged by pro racing greats such as Danny Sullivan, Maryeve Dufault and Boris Said.
The win gives Doherty the privilege to continue racing and further undergo intense professional training in England. He will then be given his professional, international racing license.
Doherty actually made it to the finals in 2011, but he missed the final 16 challenges by just a miniscule six-tenths of a second. Doherty did not give up and made a point to come back and give it all he could. "After being so close, I knew I could never let a chance like that slip through my fingers again. That's where my history in sports helped me,” said Doherty. “The only person who can motivate you is yourself. I knew I would never get another chance like this, so I tried to make the best of every day. All of the hard work and commitment has paid off in the biggest way possible, but there's much more work ahead."
Doherty said he wants to ultimately find himself competing in the Daytona 24 Hour race, but for now the Dubai 24 Hour will be his main priority. Doherty and 3 other GT Academy winners will race with a Nissan 370Z.