Having previously been restricted to Europe and Australasia, the Gran Turismo Academy is now open to North Americans as well. What this means is that the best GT5 players can now compete for a spot on a real race team.
Sounds bananas, but that's exactly how it works, and has worked in PAL territories for the past two years. The best Gran Turismo players can enter the "Academy", and those with the fastest times will be taken to a test event where they'd drive real race cars.
The winner of that will earn a spot on a "professional team", most likely one run by Nissan since the car manufacturer is a co-sponsor of the competition.
Previous winners in Europe have gone on to compete in endurance races and the GT Cup.