NASCAR Driver Uses Trick from a Video Game to Gain in Final Lap
by Ashley Dreiling
NASCAR driver Ross Chastain used an astonishing and risky physics trick to pass five other cars during the final lap of a race. Even more shocking, Chastain told interviewers that he learned the last-minute move, driving his car along the race wall, from Mario Kart – the video game!
“[I] played a lot of NASCAR 2005 on the GameCube with [my younger brother] Chad growing up,” he told Speedway Digest after the race. “You can get away with it. I never knew if it would actually work.”
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 30, 2022
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 30, 2022
Chastain got away with this trick thanks to the physics concept called centripetal force. It’s the friction between a car’s tires and the road necessary to keep the car moving in a circular motion. This force is equal to the vehicle’s mass times its velocity squared, then divided by the radius of the circle it makes. The concept is represented by the formula (F = m v2/r.)
If this force dips too low, the driver will spin out of the circle into a much larger circle or crash into the wall. Centripetal force is what keeps us everyday drivers on the road, but Chastain needed incredible speed to beat out the racers, so he manipulated the equation. As he turned, he decelerated, quickly losing mass. Most drivers, racers, and otherwise, do the same.
But Chastain took it the next, video game-worthy, level by adding more friction from a different source – the wall. Video shows immediate damage to his car, but not enough to stop Chastain.
And not enough to stop the characters in Mario Kart, either.