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The Story of how a Gamer Became a Racing Legend

Jann Mardenborough’s career took him from video games to racing greatness to the big screen

The story of British professional racer Jann Mardenborough is one of overcoming the odds and proving that anybody can achieve anything.

Photo by Faisal Waheed on Unsplash


Mardenborough got interested in racing at the young age of six, and from that time he always wanted to become a racer. When he was eight, a friend introduced him to the game Gran Turismo on the original PlayStation. He loved the game and proved to be really good at it. Mardenborough then heard about a tournament for Gran Turismo and the prize for winning was having a chance to race in the Nissan GT team. After beating out 90,000 others who initially competed for the crown, Mardenborough advanced to the Nissan GT racing academy where he and other Gran Turismo players trained to drive real race cars before they would all race. The winner would join the Nissan GT team. Mardenborough won the race and joined the Nissan team.

Like all rookie drivers Mardenborough has a tough beginning. Once he started to get it all together he proved to be an amazing driver. Mardenborough even placed third in the 24 Hours at Le Mans LMP2 division, he finished third overall in the 24 Hours at Dubai, took pole (fastest qualifying time) in a GT race at Nürburgring and later finished third, he set two of the fastest laps for Giles Motorsport in the Toyota Racing Series New Zealand, and then went on to win many more podiums and pole positions. 

Unfortunately Mardenborough hit a major roadblock during the middle of his career. In 2015 he was racing at Nürburgring which is the most feared track in the world and for good reason. It is dangerous because of the many blind corners and the way the track can get so tight in places makes it the perfect recipe for a serious crash. Unfortunately, Mardenborough had to face why Nürburgring is so dangerous when his car caught air on a hill from a headwind and he soared right into a group of spectators which overall killed a spectator and injured many more. Mardenborough was also injured and was taken to the hospital unconscious. He was very lucky to survive such a serious crash without serious injury. Mardenborough considered not going back into racing again after the crash but with motivation from his team, friends, and family he mustered up the strength to get back in the game. 

Photo by Alexandros Athanasopoulos on Unsplash

With Mardenborough’s career back up and running he continued to dominate the field with an overall finish in Le Mans of third place, four wins, and 12 podiums. Mardenborough later got an offer to have a movie made out of him which he reluctantly agreed to. Mardenborough was even casted as the stunt driver of the movie and delivered incredible racing scenes for audiences to enjoy. Mardenborough has big plans for his future career as he has hopes to race in Formula 1, and hopes to one day win the 24 Hours of Le Mans which is considered one of the hardest things to do in motorsports. 

Mardenborough is inspiring the future racing generation by showing that simulation racers can become real life racers. Because of Mardenborough, more and more racing teams and companies are accepting more and more sim drivers.  NASCAR is even accepting sim drivers now as Rajah Caruth got into the NASCAR Truck Series, and is a prospect for the Alpha Prime Racing team in the Xfinity series for next year by proving himself to be a good driver through simulation racing.  Sophomore Antonio Rodriguez said “I think sim drivers can be the future of racers because you can do everything on those games that you can do in real racing.” 

Mardenborough continues to inspire people around the world that you can achieve anything if you put hard work and dedication into your goal. He still has a long racing career to go and he still has so much potential in him. It is fair to say that he will achieve amazing things in his future racing career. 


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