The Gran Turismo (GT) Academy recently released the first episode on YouTube, showing all the mayhem, challenges, and difficulties it takes to go from a video gamer to a real racecar driver.
For those that don't know, the GT Academy is a competition where players of the popular racing game Gran Turismo 5 try to take their video game skills from the couch onto a real racetrack. Out of 400,000 players that compete on the PlayStation Network, 16 finalists compete for a chance to fulfill the ultimate dream, being a racecar driver for Nissan.
The GT Academy series chronicles these finalists journey toward achieving a real racing career at the world famous Silverstone racetrack, the birthplace of F1, in the UK.
Sounds like fun? It sure sounds cool and exciting, but don't be fooled. The driving challenges and tests in the GT Academy are anything but easy. The GT Academy tests not only a driver's skill, but mental and physical abilities as well. Since there is only one winner and everyone wants to win, competition is fierce and grueling.
The GT Academy has produced some talented drivers in the past. Lucas Ordonez, who won the first GT Academy, started his international racing career in Dubai three years ago, and so far his journey has taken him all the way to drive and compete in the world famous “24 Hours of Le Mans.” He was able to secure a class podium finish in that race in the LMP2 class, which is quite impressive for a rookie driver. Past winners include Jann Mardenborough, Bryan Heitkotter, and Jordan Tresson.
If you have dreams of becoming a real race car driver, all you need is a PS3 and some serious skill on Gran Turismo 5. Whoever said “Video games are a waste of time” clearly doesn't know what they are talking about and has never played Gran Turismo.
Most Expensive and Cheapest Gas Prices around the World
Argh, Gas Prices! Even though gas prices have come down over the past few weeks, let's be honest… it is still “Pain at the Pump” for most drivers out on the road.
High gas prices causes us to do crazy things. Such as carpooling to work with that guy you hate, drinking less with friends, and not buying frivolous items over the Internet. You also generally plan your car trips more carefully. Does the price of gas justify you going to the mall today?
We Americans complain about how bad gas prices are here, but my automotive colleagues in European countries such as the UK feel the pain all the time. I want you to think of how large a quart is for a second. Across the Atlantic they pay for fuel by the liter, which is about the same size as a quart. The average price for a liter of fuel is $2.16 and you need four liters roughly to make a gallon. That means it would cost on average around $8.64 a gallon in the UK… ouch!
The simple reality though is that most of us have to drive and use our cars, no matter the price of gas here or in Europe. We are slaves to those posted prices at gas stations. The only way around this would be if you owned a refinery (of course if you owned a refinery you probably are not reading this and if you are, thank you!)
Even though I feel for the British, because they need to pay some ridiculously high gas prices, in some countries it could be worse. While gas prices are crazy high, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) over in the UK is relatively high. According to the World Bank's data it is roughly $35,600 per capita in the UK. That means while yes gas is expensive, incomes somewhat match the high fuel prices.
Where might getting gas be even more painful? If you lived in the African country of Eritrea (Yes, this was a Wikipedia lookup) where GDP is roughly $700 per year, filling your tank would eat-up a huge amount of your income. How much? Roughly 12.12% of an average Eritrean's budget would go to a 10 gallon tank costing on average $84.90 in US dollars. Compared to the UK where it would only be a paltry 0.24% of GDP per year at $94.27 for that same 10 gallon tank, prices don't seem quite as bad.
This lead me to determine that Eritrea is “The Most Expensive Country to Buy Fuel.” While Norway ranks the top of the list according to most rankings, Norwegians also have a very high GDP ($53,300) putting them 5th on my list.
Where would it be least expensive to get gas in the world? According to the British Insurance Agency Staveley Head Venezuela has the cheapest fuel prices in the world. A gallon of gas would cost you on average a paltry 18 cents, meaning 10 gallons would be $1.80. That same amount of money would not even buy half a gallon in the US. In the UK it would not be enough to even move your car 300 feet!
Moral of the story, you better learn some Spanish and move to Venezuela if you want to buy some cheap gas. I can only imagine all the fun Venezuelans have in their cars when they don't need to worry about gas prices. Unfortunately, in most of the world we do.
After ten years of of production of the new MINI in Oxford, British Prime Minister David Cameron drove the Two-millionth MINI off the line and out of the plant. Cameron declared: “It’s a real privilege to drive this true British icon off the production line today. The 2 millionth MINI to be made here in Oxford is a fantastic symbol of the UK’s strength in the global automotive industry and a great British manufacturing success story. MINI is not just a symbol of our industrial past, but also the great industrial future we want to build.” Frank-Peter Arndt, member of the Board of Management of BMW added, “Production of the two millionth MINI comes on the back of strong demand worldwide…The most essential factors in the success of MINI are the skills, passion and dedication of our associates.” Producing 216,302 special premium brand MINI vehicles in 2010 and exporting to more than 90 countries across the globe, MINI was the third-largest vehicle manufacturer in the UK, accounting for 17 percent of national automotive production. The Oxford plant currently builds four MINI models: the MINI, MINI Convertible, MINI Clubman and the new MINI Coupé. A fifth model, the MINI Roadster, will be added at the end of the year. The Two-Millionth MINI is no ordinary MINI, as it's adorned with special paintwork and extras and… it's a convertible. Best part about it? You can win this special MINI convertible! It will be the prize in a global campaign on Facebook “2 Million MINI – 2 Million Faces.” It will compile the faces of two million MINI fans on a special Facebook “wall”. The winner will be chosen at random among everyone who enters by submitting a photo. You better hurry as the contest ends on September 30th. The MINI has turned into a much beloved and iconic car. Some would say it's even reached a cult status of sorts. The original Mini Cooper has been featured in movies such as the original 1969 “The Italian Job” with Michael Caine. The car chase sequences through Rome in the movie are considered some of the best in cinema history. A certain auto journalist definitely agrees! A remake of “The Italian Job” was made in 2003 with Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron which featured the new MINI and another set of exciting car chase sequences. Congratulations to the Oxford plant and MINI (or should I say BMW) for making 2 million. They are great little cars. I look forward to seeing 2 Million more on the road!