When Ford announced a contest it called the “Octane Academy,” the automaker had no idea of the potential interest it would generate. Since the contest was announced back in July, Ford has received some 6,000 applications and 850 videos from fans, eager to demonstrate their skills behind the wheel to extreme sports drivers Ken Block, Vaughn Gittin, Jr., Tanner Foust and Brian Deegan.

That’s enough interest to create a reality TV show, so Fuel TV will film 13 episodes of the Octane Academy, which will begin airing in early 2012. Each Octane Academy “camp,” led by one of the four Ford-sponsored drivers, will get three episodes on Fuel TV.

First up is RallyCross and off-road truck champ Brian Deegan, who will host Octane Academy contestants in a series of off-road challenges using the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Next is Gymkhana star and pro rally driver Ken Block, who will show Octane Academy drivers a thing or two about driving, drifting and stunting in a Ford Fiesta.

Formula Drift champ Vaughn Gittin, Jr. follows, schooling students on the finer points of drifting the Ford Mustang (and, undoubtedly, on converting rear tires into smoke). Batting clean up is TV star and multi-time X-Games gold medalist Tanner Foust, who will take time away from Top Gear to show off the new Ford Focus ST.

Contestants can win prizes along the way by impressing the pro drivers, but the winner of each camp gets to pick the Ford vehicle of his or her choice. So what do Ford and Fuel TV hope to gain from the Octane Academy?

In short: customer loyalty from Millennials, who watch and participate in action sports more than any other athletic activity. Based on the response to the contest, we’d say they’re on the right track.