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Race contestant gets his free Nissan

Published: Monday, June 23, 2014 10:42 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Brian Stanley - bstanley@shawmedia.com)
Steve Doherty (seated), a Plainfield resident, listens as Thomas Nissan Product Specialist Kevin Bombeck explains the features of Doherty's new Juke Nismo. Doherty received a free car for a year after winning the Spike TV Nissan GT Academy and has been hired as a full-time Nissan race driver.

JOLIET – Steve Doherty’s new car won’t be able to reach the speeds he usually gets from a Nissan.

But the Juke Nismo he received Monday from Thomas Nissan also won’t reach the temperatures the Plainfield resident has to deal with as a professional race car driver.

“There’s air conditioning in this one,” Doherty chuckled. “The Altima’s interior probably gets up to 120 degrees during a race when I’ve got three layers of clothing on.”

Doherty, 30, said the heat was the biggest adjustment from controlling a race car while playing a Grand Turismo video game to doing the real thing on tracks in England and Dubai. He’s lost 45 pounds in the two years since winning the Nissan GT Academy.

More than 400,000 online players submitted their fastest times in the competition, which is broadcast on Spike TV. Doherty missed being among the top 32 contestants to appear on the show by six one-hundredths of a second the first year. In 2012, he made the cut and won enough head-to-head competitions against other video game players to be trained to race real vehicles.

“There are more consequences racing in real life. Repairs are much more expensive,” Doherty said.

Thomas General Sales Manager Sal Luca was surprised when Nissan called to discuss giving a free lease to “a guy who plays video games.” Doherty chose a pearl white vehicle as his prize.

“But if [Nissan] picked him up as one of their drivers, he’s got to be pretty good,” Luca said.

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