18 Wheel Donuts

As the low traction time of year is once again upon us; it’s time for Winter Stunt Driving 101.

1. Find a nice snow or ice covered open space.

2. unplug the electric cord from your empty trailer (can’t have that pesky ABS ruining our fun!)

3. Engage your diff lock.

4. approach right side of area at ~1300 rpm in your lowest high-side gear, constant throttle.

5. as you start a shallow left turn, grab a handful of johnny bar and hold it.

6. trailer will swing rapidly to the right, when it gets to at least 45 degrees, stomp (throttle) and steer (left)

7. the tractor trailer unit will rotate nicely about a point near your posterior.

8. as your trailer’s momentum bleeds off, it will gradually start to straighten relative to your tractor.

9. release the trailer brakes, and once rotation stops, you can ease off the throttle.

10. smile, repeat, enjoy!

Now that I’ve stirred the pot a little, the philosophy behind this: If you don’t know what your rig feels like when it’s out of control, when it happens accidentally, you’re going to be in deep trouble. And I wouldn’t recommend this as your first experiment, but you do need to know how a big slide feels, and what works to get you out of it. Contrary to your Safety Director’s opinion, slowing down is not always the answer. Cutting power at step 6 above will do a very nice job of introducing your truck and trailer! Horsepower can be your best friend in the right spot.

Go play in an empty lot, and soon you’ll feel your trailer start to slide without having to see that it’s sliding. Same for the drives. Each axle will feel different to your backside because the physics of each type of slide varies.

Don’t get crazy, but stomp on the brakes in a slick lot. see how it feels. It’s a lot better to be a little freaked out at 5 mph than totally spazzed at 35 or 40. You can leave all the space in the world, sooner or later some idiot will cause you to have to do an emergency stop in some real nasty spot. And even with ABS, your truck and trailer are gonna be moving around in ways you may have never felt before as they fight for traction. And you should know what’s happening by feel so you can concentrate on the moron whose trying to make you play Dr. Kevorkian.

Be safe out there, know your limits, and stop at 80%. Better to stop a little early than to fall off the far side of 100%.The fall won’t hurt but the stop sure will!

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