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Spin Doctoring

Spin Doctoring

Mountain Life
By Jason Harper
posted: 10/17/2001

There's something supremely unnerving about cornering at 65 mph on a track slicked with running rainwater. I'm doing laps in a Porsche Carrera at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., where it's been raining biblically all afternoon. As I approach Turn 4 on the world-class track, I tense. With each pass I've sensed the back wheels slipping on this steep downhill curve, and I'm not sure if I can correct a skid at this speed. I'm taking part in the Porsche Driving Experience, a two-day clinic on driving and racing techniques. Yesterday we practiced controlling skids on a "skid pad"—a parking lot with water sprinklers. Today it's the real thing.

Hundreds of deaths occur each year when drivers spin out of control, usually due to poor weather or because the driver takes a corner too fast. (It can also happen if a driver comes off the gas too abruptly while cornering.) The pros call it "oversteer": The back tires lose traction, and the rear of the vehicle begins to slide to the outside. If it isn't corrected in time, the rear of the car catches up to the front, causing a spin.

Most of us don't know how to counteract this. The technique is somewhat counter-intuitive, and the best way to master it is to take a driving course. But here, courtesy of Porsche's instructors, is what you'll learn about how to control a skid.

Click below for the steps.

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