Gran Turismo had a big presence in Las Vegas last week at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show for the sixth annual Gran Turismo Awards. The Gran Turismo Awards gives exhibitors the chance to have their car immortalized in a future installment of Gran Turismo as a drivable vehicle, with Gran Turismo creator and series producer Kazunori Yamauchi judging five finalists to select the “Best of Show” winner.
Prior to the SEMA show, all exhibitors are invited to submit their car for consideration by a select panel of distinguished judges, who pick the top car in each of five different categories, including “Best Domestic,” “Best European Import,” “Best Hot Rod,” “Best Japanese Import” and “Best Truck/SUV.” Judges consist of various respected automotive journalists, and judging for each category is based on the judges’ choice for cars that exhibit a strong balance of performance and style. After the five category winners are chosen, Yamauchi selects his favorite to receive the coveted “Best in Show” prize. This year, the winner of the “Best Japanese Import” went to JR Rocha with his custom 2007 Infiniti G37. The “Best Truck/SUV” honor was presented to John Wargo for his 1938 Chevy. The “Best European Import” award was given to Robert Gal this year for his Volkswagon Concept car. The “Best Domestic,” award was given to James Shipka for his 1967 Chevrolet Camero Rally Sport “Big Red.” The final category, “Best Hot Rod,” was awarded to Jason Lavigne for the Factory Five Racing 1933 Hot Rod.
To celebrate the best of the SEMA exhibitors, PlayStation hosted an awards ceremony last Thursday night at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. With drift and rally superstar Tanner Foust emceeing the ceremony, Yamauchi presented the Best in Show award to JR Rocha for his Infiniti G37. Yamauchi selected JR Rocha’s car for this prestigious honor because of the passion and dedication that went into making it. JR, and every other Gran Turismo fan, will be able to drive a virtual recreation of his G37 in a future installment of Gran Turismo. Following the ceremony, party guests were treated to a special live performance by hip hop superstar Ludacris, with rock legends Tommy Lee and Dave Navarro helping bring the set to an exciting close. Post-performance music was played by DJ Z-Trip. It was quite a show!!
That’s it for now. We’re already looking forward to discovering next year’s hottest car at SEMA 2009!