For any of us who have ever nursed the fantasy of being paid to drive race cars--or even just having the cash and skill to pay our own way onto a track against the best in the world--the Nissan GT Academy is a sort of real-world fairy tale. For a handful of this year's winners from around the world, that reality is about to hit in full strength: Their first race, the Dubai 24 Hours, is this weekend.

American winner Steve Doherty will be among the racers plying their craft in the Nissan 370Z Nismo GT4 race cars the team is bringing to Dubai.

Along with the race debut of Doherty and his Russian and European counterparts, the GT Academy event at Dubai will also host the regional finals for the competition's first-ever Middle East face-off.

For more about the GT Academy, and to see how previous winners of the competition have fared in professional racing, check out our previous coverage here.