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

From video game to reality, there is sometimes only one step. This was brilliantly illustrated by Ross Chastain, a racing driver, a few days ago on the circuit of Martinsville, Virginia. The 29-year-old, who was fighting for qualification for the 2022 Nascar Cup Series, surprised everyone by replicating a trick learned on the GameCube game Nascar 2005: Chase for the Cup.

I used to do this when I was 8

Relegated to a tenth eliminatory place a few meters from the finish line, Ross Chastain tried everything for everything by making a wall ride which made him gain five places and allowed him to qualify for the championship. “I played a lot of Nascar 2005 on the GameCube […] growing up and it’s doable in the game, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to really work here. I used to do this when I was 8.”

The Martinsville circuit is known for its fairly tight corners which usually require braking hard enough not to deviate due to centrifugal force. Ross Chastain did the exact opposite. Concretely, the young driver propelled his car along the outer wall of the circuit, passed 5th and let inertia and speed do the rest. Result, a car probably damn damaged on the right side, but a qualification won and a new speed record established on the circuit.

A tactic frowned upon by players

Once I hit the wall I practically let go of the steering wheel and just hoped I didn’t snag against the barrier or whatever on the final corner“, specifies the pilot in all relaxation. For the sake of scientific rigor, Ars-Technica attempted to replicate Ross Chastain’s delusional feat on Nascar 2005 and confirmed that with “a lot of skill and a bit of luck“it is indeed possible to carry out a wall ride in the game, on the same circuit.

If the tactic is impressive in real life, the wall riding is quite frowned upon in racing video games. The maneuver is indeed considered easy (the “traditional” cornering requires more practice) and dangerous (because of the potential accidents that this can cause). Chase Briscoe, one of the drivers overtaken by Chastain during the race, even explains getting banned from the iRacing game for trying the same thing 10 years ago.

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