Q: “When trying to correct for big oversteer, at a certain point I can’t rotate my hands any more, as my arms are already crossed. While experimenting on a skid pad, I found that the car will “correct itself” if I let go of the steering wheel (really just holding on very loosely) and let the wheel turn under my hands. Is this a good way to catch big oversteer? Or should I try to go hand-over-hand and always have at least one hand with a good grip on the wheel? Letting go of the wheel seems almost too easy, and works most of the time, but I also feel like I’m losing control in some way when I do it. Also, if you have any more thoughts that would help us with how to best use a skid pad for training, I’d love to hear them.”
A: While I’m not a big fan of ever letting go of the wheel, I understand that it works – at times. It’s the times when it doesn’t work that worry me! The good news is that it would be an extremely rare instance where you’d need to put that much counter-steer in while driving on the track so that you’d need to let go of the wheel to correct itself. I’ve done what you’re talking about on a skid pad, but I can’t ever think of a time where I had so much steering input in when driving on track that I needed or wanted to let go of the steering wheel.
When on a skid pad, I’d suggest practicing as much as you can without ever letting go of the wheel, as it’s not ideal to practice something you don’t want to do on the track.
I did answer a question about a plan/curriculum for a skid pad training program here: https://speedsecrets.com/q-how-do-i-use-a-skid-pad-to-be-a-better-driver/
In my Showroom Stock days, I got very very sideways exiting the Carousel at Road America.
When i corrected the car began to straighten out, but i felt it was going snap the other way.
As the nose of the car was going to point down track, I released the wheel for an instant. With the wheel back to straight, I was able to counter-steer into the now opposite rotation.
I had to repeat this several times as the car settled down to level.
Caster of the front suspension turned the wheel back to center faster I could have.
I continued on to a win.
Luck??? I call it skill. LOL
If you are about to hit an obstacle, barrier or wall, yes; let go of the wheel to avoid injury to your hands/wrists.
Completely agree with Ross on this. If you are on a skid pad experimenting in a controlled environment, anything goes and you can *sometimes be rewarded when letting go and allowing the car to correct itself.
When sharing the track with other drivers and the rear steps out, please don’t hand the wheel over to Jesus. If it snaps back quickly, you are at risk of a T-bone by another car or having the wheels catch sideways in the dirt and roll. Spend valuable skidpad time learning to correct the slide while keeping the car always under your control. If all is completely lost (been there), simply go two feet in and the car will slide predictably to a stop, allowing others to avoid an impact.
So a similar question, I see Videos Posted where people lose the rear end and counter steer until their arms hit, all crossed up. In the Video’s people then go hand over hand and put the steering wheel to full lock. To me this just seems wrong and I peronsally always stop at two hands on the wheel all crossed up, If you hand over hand you end up with one hand on the wheel and no real idea where center is. If the rear actually catches you are in for a violent snap to the other side.
Does going to full lock work sometimes, most of the time, never?
Does going to full lock work sometimes? Absolutely. Does it work all of the time? No. In a very large percentage of time on the track (at least 95% of the time) that’s all that is needed, and there’s no need to go further and get into hand-over-hand. Agreed, knowing where straight ahead is is a critical part of this, which hand-over-hand doesn’t provide. Keeping your hands in contact with the steering wheel, and knowing where straight ahead is the priority. If a driver has to use hand-over-hand control an oversteer situation, they either weren’t looking far enough ahead, and/or they’re slow to react.
Use your vision properly and you’ll not have to go hand-over-hand, and only ever go to full lock as the most.