Q: “Any advice on transitioning from using active handling on my car to turning it all off? Seems like I need to take a step back to get back to the same level of performance.”
A: My advice is to only turn off the stability/traction control on a car when you can consistently sense when it has been activated – every single time. If you’re unaware of it helping you stay in control, then it’s been “saving your life” without you knowing.
There’s nothing wrong with driving on track and having the electronic aides help you. Hey, that’s an important way to learn what your car is capable of. So, as you drive, pay attention to when you feel these aides kicking in and how they’re helping you. If you can get to the point to where you can even anticipate and predict when the stability/traction control will be activated, then you really understand your car and these systems.
Then, yes, I agree that you should back off a little when you first begin driving with the aides turned off. If your car allows you to step down in how intrusive they are – going from standard to a “sport” mode, for example – then do that.
As you begin to build your speed back up, remember where the aides were helping in the past, and be ready for having to make the corrections yourself. Those corrections may require easing off the throttle slightly (and smoothly), delaying when you apply the throttle, and some opposite lock with the steering wheel. While stability control can activate the brakes to help stabilize a skid/slide, I do not recommend touching the brakes. The difference is that the electronics can activate just one brake on the car at a time if that’s needed, whereas you can only activate all four with the brake pedal.
It’s very important to gradually build up your speed again after turning off the electronic aides. I don’t want to end this answer on a downer, but I’ve witnessed far too many crashed cars where drivers have just recently turned off their stability/traction control. Respect the limits, and definitely take the time to go through the process of sensing when the electronics have been helping you.