How an old video game helped a driver qualify for a car race

From a video game to reality is sometimes just one step. This was brilliantly illustrated by race car driver Ross Chastain a few days ago at the Martinsville, Virginia track. The 29-year-old, who was vying to qualify for the 2022 Nascar Cup Series, surprised everyone by repeating a trick he learned in Nascar 2005: Chase for the Cup for the GameCube.

“I did it when I was 8”

Dropping to tenth in the elimination a few yards from the finish line, Ross Chastain tried it all with a wall ride that secured him five places and qualified him for the championship. “I played a lot of Nascar 2005 on the GameCube. […] grew and it’s doable in the game, but I wasn’t sure if it would actually work here. I did it when I was 8 years old.”

The Martinsville circuit is known for its rather tight corners, which usually require heavy enough braking to not deviate due to centrifugal force. Ross Chastain did exactly the opposite. Specifically, the young rider drove his car along the outer wall of the track, drove 5th place, and the rest was done by inertia and speed. As a result, the car was probably damaged as hell on the right side, but the qualification was won and a new speed record was set on the track.

Tactics not favored by players

“Once at the wall, I practically let go of the steering wheel and just hoped not to catch on the barrier or something in the last turn,” the driver clarifies in complete relaxation. For the sake of scientific rigor, Ars Technica attempted to replicate Ross Chastain’s insane feat at Nascar 2005 and confirmed that with “great skill and a bit of luck” it is indeed possible to tour the wall in the game, on the same circuit.

While tactics are impressive in real life, wall riding is frowned upon in racing video games. The maneuver is indeed considered easy (the “traditional” turn requires more practice) and dangerous (due to the potential accidents it can cause). Chase Briscoe, one of the drivers Chastain doubled during the race, even explains that he was banned from the iRacing game for trying to do the same thing 10 years ago.

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