NASCAR driver Ross Chastain caused quite a stir last year when he used real-life wall-riding—a trick he apparently learned on his GameCube (opens in new tab) in 2005—to move up five spots and set a lap record in the final turn of the Xfinity 500. It was a bold, foolhardy, and absolutely spectacular maneuver, and today NASCAR (via Kotaku (opens in new tab)) announced that nobody ever better try something like that again.
"Chastain's dash around Turns 3 and 4 at Martinsville Speedway last October made for an enthralling finish as the No. 1 Chevrolet gained five positions in one set of corners, earning enough points to advance to the Championship 4," NASCAR said in a statement (opens in new tab). "While the move was thrilling and largely lauded for its creativity, it also came with an increased safety risk."
"Played a lot of NASCAR 2005 on the GameCube."@RossChastain explained his video-game move. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/4jkF6BzAgkOctober 30, 2022
That's a fair point—if anything, it's understated. NASCAR race cars are fast—the average speed at the 2022 Xfinity 500 was 113.5 mph (182.7 km/h)—and heavy: NASCAR rules say cars must be a minimum of 3,300 pounds (1,500 kg), more than the curb weight of a 2023 Chevy Malibu four-door. Joke about driving around in big circles if you like, but slamming a beast like that into a corner wall at speed is extremely high-risk under the best of circumstances.
Because of that, NASCAR said it doesn't need to make any new rules to put the brakes on future occurrences, it'll just start enforcing the ones that already exist—specifically, rule 10.5.2.6.A:
- Safety is a top priority for NASCAR and NEM (NASCAR Event Management). Therefore, any violations deemed to compromise the safety of an Event or otherwise pose a dangerous risk to the safety of Competitors, Officials, spectators, or others are treated with the highest degree of seriousness. Safety violations will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
And because real-life wall-riding is absolutely not safe, anyone who tries it in the future will be given a time penalty, which will undo any gains they might make.
"Basically, if there's an act that we feel that compromises the safety of our competitors, officials, spectators, we're going to take that seriously," NASCAR senior vice president of competition Elton Sawyer said. "And we will penalize for that act going forward. Basically, what it would be is a lap or time penalty at the end of the race, so that move at Martinsville would be a penalty."
It was a little surprising that NASCAR officials didn't make this ruling the moment Chastain copped to doing it on purpose, but it was such a bizarre (and, let's be honest, stupid) stunt that it's understandable if they were left paralyzed by shock and confusion. But even before the rule clarification, the likelihood of a sudden onrush of NASCAR Cup drivers trying ridiculous videogame maneuvers was very remote: Chastain said after the race that he had no intention of ever trying to wall-ride again, "because it was not pleasant."