Video games can teach you many things. For example, jumping off a very tall cliff is deadly, or people will stop looking for you if you just hide in a closet for a bit. But I never thought I’d see a video game teach someone how to pull off a buck-wild racing maneuver involving a wall, high speed, and some courage…and have it work in a real NASCAR race. Yet, here we are.
As spotted by Eurogamer, yesterday during the final lap of the NASCAR Xfinity 500, driver Ross Chastain pulled off an impressive, wild-looking move where he got up to high speed and slammed his car into the wall of the raceway, riding the wall to leap from 10th to 5th place in just a few seconds. This move let him advance into the next stage of the Championship, which he would have otherwise narrowly missed. Chastain even had the best final lap time, by a margin of 2.5 seconds.
“I played a lot of NASCAR 2005 on the GameCube which I had growing up,” said Chastain during a post-race interview shared on Twitter. “You could get away with it [in the game] and I never knew if it would actually work. I mean, I did that when I was eight years old.”
Chastain explained that he wasn’t sure who was in the lead and talked to his crew before making the decision to, in real life, recreate a maneuver he had previously only attempted in a video game back when he was eight. The driver says that once he got against the wall he “basically let go of the wheel” and hoped he didn’t catch anything sticking out of the barrier, like an access gate. Chastain said he was “willing to do it” to secure himself a position in the NASCAR Championship. (His sudden surge came at the expense of competitor Denny Hamlin, who had previously been on track to make the cut.)
Soon after Chastain pulled off the wild wall slide, others online began recreating it in various video games. Fellow NASCAR driver Chase Briscoe shared a clip on Twitter of him trying and failing to do the same move in a game. Meanwhile, a professional sim-racer shared a clip of themself pulling off the dangerous move in iRacing, a hyper-realistic racing simulator.
As someone who was very bad at driving games for a very long time, it’s nice to know my “ride the wall in every track in Gran Turismo” strategy is not only smart but totally viable in professional racing.