The GT Academy, a partnership between Nissan and Gran Turismo, has yielded some impressive virtual-to-reality racers over its tenure. Now it looks like Mazda is getting in on the action through a new partnership with iRacing.

Like the GT Academy, Mazda Motorsports' new iRacing partnership will select the best of the virtual world's racers face them off for a fight for a shot at a scholarship in a real racing seat the following season--in this case, a run at the Mazda MX-5 Cup.

Racers interested in making the progression to the MX-5 Cup will have to compete in the 2014 iRacing MX-5 Cup season. Competitors will then be eligible to compete in the Mazda Club Racing Shootout in the fall. The winner of the Shootout gets a Mazda Motorsports scholarship that funds a season of pro racing in the Mazda MX-5 Cup.

"The partnership between Mazda and iRacing is a natural," said Tony Gardner, president of, in a release.  "As we all know, more MX-5s are road-raced on any given weekend than any other model of car.  What's also true is that, on any given day, more MX-5s are sim-raced on iRacing than any other car. Not only does this partnership offer exciting opportunities for our many members who are aspiring racers, it will also enable Mazda teams to tap into a deep pool of new driving talent."