We got a little snow accumulation in Portland, so I took the truck out to try to figure out how to do donuts.

Ready for some donuts

I picked up a friend (in fact, the very person who taught me how to drive stick) and we cruised around looking for an empty lot that hadn’t already been well-used. After a few minutes rolling down 82nd, we found a church lot that only had marks from a single donut in it.

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I crawled in and put the truck in neutral with my foot on the brake. I was feeling kinda nervous at this point. I’ve never intentionally broken traction. I haven’t handled a vehicle that was losing traction in years. And this is my only vehicle right now. What am I getting myself into? What if I totally lose control and crash into something?

I turned to my friend and asked him if he’s ready. He responds “hell yeah!” Emboldened, I carpe the diem, shift into into second, and ease out the clutch.

As I got to the middle of the lot, I turned the wheel and then stepped on the throttle to break traction in back. I felt the rear end swing around and just like that I’m doing a donut! I instantly forgot my feelings of anxiety and get caught up in the moment of oversteer.

My first donut lasts for about 180° before the rear wheels regain traction on the other side. This is fun! I’m hooked! I went right back in for another, and after a few tries I get the hang of keeping the wheels spinning enough so the rear end keeps floating and I manage a full rotation. Whoohoo!

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Feeling cocky, I tried to do a donut around a lightpost, but the radius tightened too much after 2/3 of a turn and I had to stop (only a few feet away from the post).

After I got my use of that lot, we went to find more. We found a few more empty ones and traded seats a few times, but for the most part they didn’t have as much accumulation and we weren’t as successful as in the first lot. After about thirty minutes, we head back home.

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I never figured out how to control the radius of the donut — is it throttle, or steering inputs, or both? — but we both had a lot of fun, and now I know how to do donuts! (At least in a 27-year-old RWD truck with bad tires.)

Post-hooning