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Thread: Releasing the steering wheel and letting it spin freely to unwind it?

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    likes to left foot brake. passmenow's Avatar
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    Default Releasing the steering wheel and letting it spin freely to unwind it?

    Taking your hands off the steering wheel, is this a thing?

    On other forums other drivers see it as a valid technique?

    Imho it looks like a crutch for drivers behind on steering inputs with hands too slow to unwind the steering wheel.

    Here is a video of a free spinning steering wheel.

    Ref CFOS, I was told if you lose control on a steep banked oval turn to program yourself to just turn downhill and let the gravity from the steep bank help guide you down and away from the outside wall.

    Hands off it spins the steering wheel both directions several times, including spinning the steering wheel hard right towards the outside wall.

    That reaffirmed to me that a steering wheel released is not always your friend.

    https://youtu.be/tQljedA-bZQ?t=20s

    How can you be sure when you release the wheel that the car will stay on track or off the wall?

    Debating the advantages of releasing the wheel fascinates me, I'd like someone to tell me which turn at what track is the correct place to release the steering wheel?

    When I was an instructor I requested my students to always hold onto the steering wheel, instructing or riding in a car with a driver that releases the steering wheel seemed an unnecessary risk.

    I have not seen the release steering wheel technique in use during any professional racing?

    Perhaps someone here can share video that supports or teaches drivers when to let go of the steering wheel?


    I prefer to be influenced by Patrick Long's quick hands always on the wheel during this recovery from a tank slapper.

    https://youtu.be/EokoS6R_6c8?t=3m35s
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    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    it is a drift thing.... not a track thing....

    at SuperMiata, we've scolded at a few people for releasing steering wheel... it is always after they had a bad spin, and we watch them in a video replay......
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    Senior Member robburgoon's Avatar
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    Try to avoid doing it, it's a bad habit. Sometimes I will fling the wheel all the way to lock if I know I won't be able to turn fast enough. It may prevent the spin, but getting reoriented requires a more careful recovery.
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    I "release and catch." Catching it at the right time is the art. It works, but I feel like it's a bad habit and I doubt any good drivers do it as a matter of preference.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SDSUsnowboards View Post
    I "release and catch." Catching it at the right time is the art. It works, but I feel like it's a bad habit and I doubt any good drivers do it as a matter of preference.
    Your instincts are correct, it is a very bad and potentially dangerous habit.
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    Caught my student doing this yesterday a couple of times. I requested he keep both on the wheel. He talked with his hands a lot too, which was unnerving for me.

    He also asked why I required visor-down while on track. A nice marble hit and stuck to his visor right near his eye during the next session. Point made.
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    You are going to fare better in a car whose suspension geometry lets you dial in a lot of caster. More caster - the more the car is going to want to straighten the front tires. Even then the question is if that's where you want the front tires to be.

    I agree with others that this is a bad habit. Hands-off the wheel when front impact is immanent, otherwise hands on is going to be better.
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    Good replies, I shared many of the same thoughts.
    Agree it is a drifting thing for drivers transitioning from full drift to opposite full drift.

    I imagine newer fully electronic nanny controlled cars would not react well to a spinning steering wheel?
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    Quote Originally Posted by robburgoon View Post
    Try to avoid doing it, it's a bad habit. Sometimes I will fling the wheel all the way to lock if I know I won't be able to turn fast enough. It may prevent the spin, but getting reoriented requires a more careful recovery.
    Agree the recovery of catching the spinning wheel in a random spot and quickly trying to shuffle your hands back to where you really want them.


    Did you use the technique at all on the dirt ovals with all the wild slides?
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    Quote Originally Posted by passmenow View Post
    Agree the recovery of catching the spinning wheel in a random spot and quickly trying to shuffle your hands back to where you really want them.


    Did you use the technique at all on the dirt ovals with all the wild slides?
    It's usually not needed on dirt due to running a steering quickener.

    But like I said, if I heave the wheel, it's bcause I know it's so far gone I wouldn't be able to correct it any other way, and I'm prepared to take my time gathering it up after.
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    Administrator ucfbrett's Avatar
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    You can save it if your hands are gripping the wheel. You can't if you don't. This one is an oldie but a goodie.


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    Quote Originally Posted by robburgoon View Post
    It's usually not needed on dirt due to running a steering quickener.

    But like I said, if I heave the wheel, it's bcause I know it's so far gone I wouldn't be able to correct it any other way, and I'm prepared to take my time gathering it up after.
    Heave the wheel is a coarse adjustment.

    Good point the spinning wheel videos seem exaggerated with stock boxes.

    The ratio on this race car is barely half a turn to lock, made my hands feel faster.
    https://youtu.be/R8v739aKYU4?t=30s
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    Quote Originally Posted by ucfbrett View Post
    You can save it if your hands are gripping the wheel. You can't if you don't. This one is an oldie but a goodie.

    Throttle control sounds awesome too.
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    Hand over hand > spinning wheel
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    we have throttle drive by wire, brake by wire, soon we will have steering by wire.... you realease steering wheel, letting it spin not gonna matter much...ECU will make the decision for you !!
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    Quote Originally Posted by passmenow View Post
    Heave the wheel is a coarse adjustment.

    Good point the spinning wheel videos seem exaggerated with stock boxes.

    The ratio on this race car is barely half a turn to lock, made my hands feel faster.
    https://youtu.be/R8v739aKYU4?t=30s
    Crash the car, get popped in the shins, yay, haha!
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellwilliam View Post
    we have throttle drive by wire, brake by wire, soon we will have steering by wire.... you realease steering wheel, letting it spin not gonna matter much...ECU will make the decision for you !!
    The generation(s) younger than us are not used to manual controls. Last autumn, I had a student who was in his late 20s. I was finding myself telling him to shift, as he wanted to keep the car in 3rd all the way around the track. He finally admitted it was his first manual car and he had driven it <3000 miles. I had another (mid 20s) who had never experienced locked wheels under braking, always had ABS in his cars. He was tracking his Miata for the first time after coming from Audis. He lock his RF wheel and didn't know to lift on the pedal to release it.

    It is occurring to me that I am assuming younger drivers have more basic driving knowledge and experience than I should.
    Last edited by Force McCocken; 03-20-2018 at 05:42 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellwilliam View Post
    we have throttle drive by wire, brake by wire, soon we will have steering by wire.... you realease steering wheel, letting it spin not gonna matter much...ECU will make the decision for you !!
    The future, the self driving feature will work on public roads and racetracks too, it will take over and not let your car run off the track.
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    Quote Originally Posted by robburgoon View Post
    Crash the car, get popped in the shins, yay, haha!
    Rob you checking out my legs? gimmie $5. lol
    6'7" tallest fast driver in San Diego. lol
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    Quote Originally Posted by Force McCocken View Post
    It is occurring to me that I am assuming younger drivers have more basic driving knowledge and experience than I should.
    It could be more complicated than that.
    New drivers in new cars with full nannies, rear steer, match rev down shifts and modern nannies make new drivers think they are good drivers from the start.
    I don't instruct anymore but it must be difficult to do so with new drivers in modern nanny cars.
    With the new cars/new drivers lap times like this 1.23 at SOW are with in reach of limited experience drivers with state of the art nannies.
    This half million dollar GT3RS has an awesome radio as well, with his radio on full blast he about matches my best time at SOW.
    It appears so easy it feels like they are mocking us for all of the years we have in modifying/improving our cars and our driving.
    I feel loud music diminishes SA.
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    Interesting article on nannies...
    https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-cul...ct-your-nanny/

    "The truth, contrary to what you've heard (or read in a car magazine),
    is that a flashing stability-control light usually signals the hard work of a car's development engineers reacting to your incompetence".
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