To diehard motorsport fans, Jann Mardenborough’s journey from playing video games, to winning the Nissan GT Academy in 2011, to becoming one of the most accomplished and versatile young racing drivers on the planet, is a tale that is well-known.
But to most sports fans, the idea that a young person could become a pro athlete in a given sport just from playing a video game based on that sport is something that would seem unfathomable. And it’s that incredible story that’s now been chronicled in a feature story for ESPN’s SportsCenter, the longest-running sports news and entertainment show in the United States.
Featuring interviews with Jann, along with his father Steve, his mother Lesley, and former Nissan Motorsport director Darren Cox, the SportsCenter Featured story on Mardenborough’s journey from “gamer to racer” is chronicled in an exceptionally produced mini-documentary, narrated by longtime ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi.
As an advisory to viewers: This video does include footage of Mardenborough’s crash at the Nürburgring in 2015, which resulted in one spectator fatality – a part of his racing journey that must be chronicled.
There is incredible footage of Mardenborough’s debut in the Japanese Super Formula Championship at Suzuka Circuit in April, and fittingly, the final images feature Mardenborough getting suited in his blue overalls and purple crash helmet for Calsonic Team Impul in Super GT.
With ESPN and ABC divesting their motorsports coverage, and given how rare it is to see non-mainstream racing series covered in the American sports press – it is almost unheard of to see a Japanese national racing championship covered by a major sports network – this is an exceptionally well-done piece.