Drive Real Cars, Race in a Virtual World: Castrol Pits Matt Powers and Ben Collins

Castrol seems to be making a habit out of coming up with new ways of mixing performance driving and virtual reality after its previous stunt earlier this year.
Castrol virtual drive 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
This one, though, is much more complicated. If back in May Castrol asked professional racing driver Matt Powers to spin around an empty track in his Ford Mustang while wearing an Oculus Rift helmet on - with a computer matching the real car’s movement with what was happening in the virtual world - this time things have changed.

Matt Powers is still there, he’s still wearing a VR kit, he’s still driving a Ford Mustang, and he’s still basically driving blind - in this world, at least - but this time he’s joined by Ben Collins. Who just happens to be another professional racing driver also known for his role as BBC TopGear’s The Stig.

In the real world, these two drivers will be driving their Ford Mustangs on two parallel racing tracks, but in the virtual one, they’ll be going head to head. Even though the real-world track is nothing but a large stretch of asphalt, there are so many things that could go wrong we’re afraid to even think about them.

The so-called tracks are nothing more than simple ellipses and they don’t allow for that much speed, but they’re still basically driving blind and trying to beat each other, so it will quickly get competitive. Especially since in the virtual world they can see the other car driving in front or behind theirs.

Given that the virtual world offers virtually unlimited possibilities, the organizers thought it would be fun to add some obstacles - things like spikes, boulders, pools of fire and the prospect of imminent death at every turn thanks to the gaping abyss that threatened those who would fall off the track.

Who wins isn’t very important, but all the logistical effort that went into making the short clip you can watch below deserves to be saluted. And the best way to do that is by actually hitting the play button.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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