Ross Chastain was driving in the 2022 Nascar Cup semi-final in Phoenix.
It was the final turn in the final lap and he was in 9th place.
If he didn’t finish in the first 4 he wouldn’t make it to the final.
He had to pass 5 cars in front of him in the final turn or he was out.
There was no known way in conventional racing to do that.
So he didn’t look to conventional thinking for an answer, he looked elsewhere.
He remembered a video game he used to play all the time with his brother, as a kid.
It was called Nascar 2005 on the Nintendo Game Cube.
Because it was a video game you could do things you couldn’t do in real life.
A favourite racing move of his was called the ‘wall ride’.
The tracks had a large safety wall on the outside of the turns.
Coming into a turn you didn’t slow down, you carried on at full speed into the wall and let the wall carry the car round.
In the game it worked fine, but surely it wouldn’t work in real life.
Ross Chastain decided it was his only hope.
He was in 9th place, he had nothing to lose, it was shit-or-bust.
Into the final turn every car was doing 130 mph and every driver hit the brakes slowing to 80 mph.
Every driver except Ross Chastain, he kept his foot down and moved into the wall at 130mph.
Centrifugal force pushed him and his 1.5 ton car outward at 5g, the safety wall held them all the way round the turn.
With bits flying off his car, he was going 50mph faster than every other driver.
The car was a wreck but it didn’t matter.
What was left of his car slammed past the five drivers in front of him and crossed the finish line in 4th place.
The crowd went wild.
It was the most exciting thing they’d seen in Nascar racing.
Nascar immediately banned the move for safety reasons, but Ross Chastain had made it into the final.
The best thing about that story for me is where he looked for an advantage.
He didn’t look to conventional racing, he looked to a video game.
He didn’t just depend on technology to give him an advantage.
He looked to technology to give him an idea that didn’t exist in real life.
That’s really creative, turning the tables on technology is what we should be doing.
Not just engaging in the same old binary debate about new media versus legacy media.
But understanding that creativity exists in the human mind, the mind needs fodder for creativity and it doesn’t matter where the fodder comes from.
Technology isn’t the limits of what we can do, it’s just more fodder for the mind to use.
It’s another place for us to look.
While everyone else is thinking about the limits of new or old technology, Ross Chastain was thinking fluidly between them.
Because he was looking where no one else was looking.
We shouldn’t just use technology as a substitute for thinking.
That just makes us lazy.
We should use it as another part of the input into our thinking.
The creative advantage isn’t just what we do with the technology.
The real creative advantage is in our mind.