Of the more than 52,000 contestants who originally entered into the United States version of GT Academy, jointly hosted by Nissan and Sony, just 16 have advanced to the final competition being held in Silverstone in the United Kingdom. The top 32 virtual racers from the four U.S. regions descended on Orlando, Florida this week to go pixel-to-pixel for a spot among the sweet 16. But this is about more than just bragging rights. Those that made it into the final round will face a battery of new challenges, including physical fitness tests and evaluations behind the wheel of real-live race cars.

The top winner will have a shot at becoming a professional race car driver by joining a legitimate team, just like GT Academy Europe winner Lucas Ordonez. As you may recall, Ordonez and his team managed to finish second at the 12 Hours of Sebring with a Signatech Nissan LMP2 racer, and the 25-year-old Spaniard is headed to this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans for a shot at taking home the checkers at one of the world's most grueling race events.

Nissan and Sony are currently working up a reality TV show about the GT Academy's U.S. contestants. While the winner will be chosen after the throwdown in Sivlerstone this summer, look for the show to hit the airwaves this fall. Hit the jump for the full list of final contestants.

[Sources: Sony, Nissan, GTPlanet | Image: Zach Bowman/AOL]
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Christopher Roberts – Northeast
Andre Gomes – Northeast
Christopher Morton – Northeast
Kris Norris – Northeast
Gregory Russell – Northeast
Nick Fontana – Northeast
Bryan Heitkotter – West
Jason Miller – West
Phillip Arscott – West
Sean Johnston – West
John Wilding – Southeast
Rich Pratt – Southeast
Glenn McGee Howle – Southeast
Jose Cedeno – Southeast
Connor Clifford – Midwest
Steve Driscoll – Midwest