Gran Turismo 5 Prologue was prominently featured at the recent Gran Turismo Awards. The 2007 SEMA show is the perfect collaboration between the auto and gaming industries.

LAS VEGAS--Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) hosted its fifth annual Gran Turismo Awards last night at Wynn Casino's Tryst nightclub in conjunction with the 2007 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show.

"The 2007 Gran Turismo Awards showcases the collaboration between the automotive culture and the gaming industry," said Kazunori Yamauchi, the creator of the racing franchise that has sold over 47 million copies worldwide. "We are proud to honor auto enthusiasts for their passion of cars, and to celebrate the automotive lifestyle that Gran Turismo embodies."

The president of developer Polyphony Digital was in Vegas to demo the new game, which is slated to ship in Q1 2008 (potentially in February), as well as to hand-pick the winner of this year's "Best of Show" award--Marcel Horn. A virtual version of Horn's 2007 Audi TT vehicle will be featured in the next game, Gran Turismo 5, which is at least another year away from release.

Last year's "Best of Show" car, a silver 1960 Chevrolet Corvette, is playable in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, which was on display at Sony Electronic's booth at SEMA.

Stephanie Yoshimoto, senior manager, product marketing, said the judging process is performed by members of the automotive media, who look at every car entrant on the show floor and pick the best in five categories: Best Truck/SUV, Best Domestic, Best European Import, Best Japanese Import, and Best Hotrod.

"SEMA is one of the largest auto shows in the world and because the GT brand represents an automotive lifestyle, it's a very good fit for us to be very involved," said Yoshimoto. "We go out to exhibitors that are attending and building custom cars for the show and we ask them if they have what it takes to build a car to be featured in the game. It's a bit of a hefty load for the judges to check out all of those cars but at the end of the day we end up with what we feel is the hottest car of the show and it becomes immortalized in the Gran Turismo franchise."

Yoshimoto said the awards show is entertaining because it's a big deal for a lot of the folks who put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into their car. She said it's a great feeling for the creators of the winning cars to know that their car will be playable to millions of fans around the world. SCEA also had 12 PS3s running Prologue at the awards show. There were eight kiosks set up in the VIP section and another four in the general admission area. Over 800 people attended the awards show, which has grown with each year. Sony Music Entertainment artist Chris Cornell (formerly of Soundgarden and Audioslave) performed at the event after Yamauchi handed out the award.

In addition to the Gran Turismo Awards, SCEA was also promoting Prologue on the show floor at Sony Electronic's booth, which was one of the largest booths at SEMA. There were four PlayStation 3 kiosks on the show floor, which included a giant 40-foot HD plasma screen.

GT 5 Prologue will be released on Blu-ray Disc and will also be available via download on PlayStation Network. The game will support 16-player racing online or via connected PS3s. After shipping the initial game, Polyphony Digital will offer additional downloadable content to gamers.

"We used to ship a game disc and that was it," said Yoshimoto. "With the online capabilities of PS3, we're able to keep the content fresh and the team is very committed to taking advantage of that."

One online aspect of the new game that Yoshimoto's extremely excited about is GT TV, which will allow gamers around the globe to download video content to their PS3 hard drive and watch all types of racing and automotive content.

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