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It was one of the most memorable moments in motorsports: Ross Chastain grinding against the wall while running his engine at full throttle to pass six cars and secure a place in the 2023 championship competition. But you might not know this “Hail Mary” slingshot move was inspired by a video game.

As the final lap at Martinville 2022 drew to a close, Ross Chastain knew it was his cut-off to get in to the final four championship races. His pit crew chief called out, “You need two spots here” halfway through the final lap and Chastain realized the next two corners would be for all of the marbles. But on the short track, there simply wasn’t enough time to catch the car ahead of him.

Chastain recalled, “I just couldn’t believe what was happening. We’re gonna be out by two points. And I double checked in the corner like, ‘Do we have to?'” The answer was clear: “Yeah gotta get ’em, we need two.”

That’s when Chastain decided, “There was no other option.” He would risk it all with a “Hail Mary” move.

Chastain didn’t come off the gas or press the brake as the pack came into the third corner. Instead, he steered the right side of his car up to the wall. “I was hittin’ the gas and I’m on the wheel.” While the car’s momentum pushed it hard to the outside of the track, it continued to ride the wall around corners three and four. But there was no way the car could hold together for wrong.

The bodywork of the car shredded against the wall. Even a piece of the hood flew off. The in-car camera footage began to flicker in and out. And Chastain admits he wasn’t faring much better. He said by the end of corner four, “Everything’s starting to go blurry.”

“The next thing I know I’m on the straightaway.” And by the ‘straightaway,’ Chastain meant crossing the finish line, six positions further up the pack.

“I run into six, and I look over out of the window net and the first real clear thing that I saw was the 11.” Chastain pushed the number six car out of the way and crossed the line a nose ahead of Denny Hamlin’s #11, bumping the veteran out of the final four race championship series.

Ross Chastain running a red #1 NASCAR race car along the wall of a track.
Ross Chastain at Martinsville | Stacy Revere/Getty Images

To the spectators present, it looked like someone had hit a fast-forward button right in front of their eyes. Chastain’s number one car zipped around the outside of the track, completing multiple physics-defying passes at twice the speed of any other cars.

The announcers screamed, “Chastain did a video game move!” And it’s true, “riding the wall” is a strategy many racing video game fans pulled in their youth. When the wall turns the car for you, you don’t have to slow down for the corners. It was seen as a sort of glitch, not possible in an actual race. More recent video games have upped the damage your car will take and made the move impossible. But it appears it was possible in real life. And that fact had NASCAR terrified.

Joey Logano, who would go on to beat Chastain in that year’s championship said of the ‘Hail Mary’ slingshot move, “It was awesome, it was cool. It happened for the first time.”

Many fans agreed, excited to see something new in the sport. But Logano warned how dangerous such driving is.

“There needs to be a rule against this one because I don’t know if you want the whole field riding the wall coming to the checkered flag. I don’t know if it’s the safest thing for the driver or the fans when you have a car right up at the wall hauling the mail like that. What if that fence gate wasn’t closed all the way? What if it was bent and caught his car? That’s a big risk that Ross was willing to take.”

Joey Logano

Chastain admits he didn’t even think about an open gate or other such danger. “I never second guessed it, which is wild.”

NASCAR actually argued that there’s always been a rule against such driving. But the Association decided not to penalize Chastain. Instead it warned all the drivers that in the future, “NASCAR will issue a time penalty to any vehicle that attempts an unsafe maneuver such as the one performed at Martinsville.”

Next, find out about the time Formula 1 broke its own rules and changed racing forever, or see Chastain’s wall run for yourself in the video below: