A 29-year-old NASCAR driver, Ross Chastain, pulled off a wild move he learned in a video game on his Nintendo GameCube: a wall ride. Believe it or not, it worked—and it helped him and his team qualify for the Championship finale.
Chastain was coming in at tenth place at the 500-lap Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway when he cranked the car up to fifth gear, then allowed his car to ease its way into the boundary wall of the raceway. Then, by ‘riding the wall,’ he leapt all the way to fourth place in a matter of seconds.
This spur-of-the-moment decision sounds dangerous, but it worked like a charm for Chastain and his team, Trackhouse Racing. It edged them into fourth place, which allowed his team to advance to the NASCAR Championship final for the first time.
Chastain used to try out the move in the NASCAR 2005 game
“I played a lot of NASCAR 2005 on the GameCube,” he said. “I never knew if it would actually work [in real life]. I did that when I was eight years old.”
Not only were Trackhouse Racing able to qualify out of nowhere, but Chastain’s daredevilry also ended up setting the record for the fastest lap ever in the history of Martinsville Speedway, 18.845 seconds, breaking the previous lap record by 2.5 seconds.
The “wall ride” shot Ross Chastain’s vehicle ahead of racer Denny Hamlin, and edged him out of the running for the Championship final. Despite missing out on the last qualification spot, Hamlin was quite impressed with the maneuver and praised Chastain’s skill after the race.
“Certainly, a great move,” Hamlin said. “When you have no other choice, it certainly is easy to do that. But well executed.”
Racers aren’t usually able to maintain their high speeds on the track’s sharp turns, forced to cut back their speed to safely change direction. By hugging the wall and letting go of the wheel, the wall kept his car in place during the turn without having to lose speed.
Although the car was damaged and would not have been able to race further, Chastain performed the move on the final lap. As there is no rule against the move, his finish counted.
“I asked Alpha two on the last lap if we needed it and we did,” Chastain said. “I couldn’t tell who was leading and I just made the choice; I grabbed fifth gear down the back and fully committed.”