The Nissan GT Academy has been taking the absolute best young competitors from Gran Turismo and turning them into professional sportscar drivers for years. Now, a 17-year-old from New Jersey might be able to make a similar transition to stock car racing.

Michael Conti doesn't own a car or really even drive in the real world. However, he's one of the best racers around in the PC simulation iRacing (pictured above). He made $10,000 for winning the 2014 NASCAR title in the game and brought in another $5,000 from sponsors. Conti even claims to have beaten Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the simulation a few times.

After winning virtually, Conti now wants to translate that success to the real world. Every journey must start with a single step, though. To give him that chance, Yahoo Autos took Conti to the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to drive an actual racecar for the first time.

Alex Lloyd, the writer of the piece, is a former IndyCar Series driver, and he speculates that the ability to move from the virtual world to reality could bring a huge change to motorsports. The opportunity might reduce the plutocracy of racing where moving up the ranks is extremely expensive, and instead let raw skill play a bigger role. The whole experience is reported in a fascinating story and is definitely worth a read.



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