By on April 22, 2011

Alright, everybody… What’s he doing wrong?

Shuffle steering is not only safe. It can also lessen the likelihood of getting soreness in your chest muscles and biceps, because it’s the stronger tricep and back muscles you’re using. This is especially useful if you’re operating a car without power steering.

Shuffle Steering Technique, from “Study Driving Blog”

Car and Driver never fails to depress lately. This new video, comparing the Infiniti G35 IPL, BMW 1M, and some Audi, is no exception. First we have the cliche-ridden trip to the Tail Of The Dragon, complete with “at the limit” shots which are embarrassing at best. Then we have a track comparison where the evaluator wears a $199, made-in-China open-face autocrosser’s helmet and shuffles around the track, making sure his hands never stray far from the touch-my-own-dong-for-reassurance-like-a-mildly-mentally-handicapped-toddler zone.

Don’t forget, kids, when you quote “Lightning Lap” numbers to each other over glasses of what the ill-educated call “McCallan”, this is how they are getting the numbers. There’s only one place where shuffle steering and stopwatches should co-exist: autocrossing Stock-class cars.

If you’ve forgotten why we don’t shuffle, remind yourself.

If you want to see the video, it’s below.

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43 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Learn to %&$#ing Drive Edition...”

  • avatar

    Tell that ho

  • avatar

    I saw this the other day and was going to email it to you. Didn’t seem like a pro driver at all.

    Do you think he really posted those numbers?

    Also, what is the proper technique when you’re in slow hairpin corners?

    • 0 avatar

      As someone who learned to drive in rural Appalachia, the proper technique for hairpin turns is to a) pay attention and stay calm b) stay slow so that you don’t fall off the side of the mountain c) stay on your side of the road, goddamnit.

      I can’t speak to what you do on a closed track, but in real life, this is how it works.

      Also, local knowledge trumps equipment.  The guy who’s driven this same stretch of road every day for 25 years in the same F-150 will always be moving faster than any city slicker in any fast car — and he’ll be doing it more safely, too, because he knows where every kid on the road lives, where every deer crossing is, and exactly how far away from ideal the bank on every turn happens to be.  Just so long as everyone stays on their side of the road, anyway.

  • avatar

    Interesting. I still hold my hands at 10 and 2 (as I was taught in my old high school driving class from way back) and never shuffle steer unless I really have to (e.g., taking a very wide turn), and I do so for the very reasons Jack notes: I have better control of the car keeping my hands in a fixed position (and I feel more connected and attentive as well). But in Jack’s other article he mentions 3 and 9.
    Jack, has 9 and 3 replaced 10 and 2 as the optimal driving position? I’ve tried it (as well as 8 and 4) and I much prefer the feeling of control I have at 10 and 2.

    • 0 avatar

      From what I remember from Driver’s Ed, 7 years ago, 9 and 3 is now the de facto position, at least for taking the test. I believe the rationale was due to inclusion of airbags. Apparently at 10 and 2 there’s a risk of breaking your wrists if the airbags deploy.

      I could be wrong, but this is what I remember from my driver’s ed class.

    • 0 avatar

      9 and 3 is the new 10 and 2, and it is due to air bags.  Both the potential damage to your wrists/hands/arms and to reduce the liklihood of those hard boney appendages being blown into your face by the airbag.  At least that is what the CHP officer teaching our driver safety training course said.

    • 0 avatar

      The airbag things is a good point that I honestly never thought about. Thanks for that.
      I also just did a bit of reading, and I now see Jack’s other, main point about 9 and 3. At 9 and 3 your hands are facing each other (almost like in a clapping position) while also being perfectly aligned with the wheels. When so situated your hands can return the wheels to ‘straight’ again almost intuitively, just on how it ‘feels’ if you will (and without actually having to make intellectually guided adjustments using your eyes). Interesting stuff!

    • 0 avatar

      at 9 and 3 you can turn the wheel further without ‘handcuffing’ yourself…

  • avatar

    Next time I ride on a city bus I’m going to let the driver know that if he/she really wants to make time on the schedule they should stop shuffle their hands on the wheel.

  • avatar

    I don’t really get the slam here.

    First, criticizing a $199 made in China helmet reminds me an awful lot of those who criticize someone because they bought the “cheap” porsche, not the 911, or a Ninja 250 instead of the 650, as if the more expensive one is somehow better, and the less expensive one is proof of some sort of inadequacy?  Why spend $500 on a helmet when the $199 one will do?

    And I don’t really care how these guys drive.  I don’t see them telling us we’re supposed to drive like they do, I don’t hear them telling us they are driving experts, or giving us pointers.  They’re just driving the cars how they want to drive them and giving their opinions.  Again, I don’t see any problem here.

    • 0 avatar

      Although I don’t feel as passionately about the subject as Mr Baruth, I do object to people who blatantly don’t know what they’re doing spouting off their opinions. Would you listen to financial advice from a four year old? No. Neither would I listen to opinions about cars where the person driving doesn’t know what they are doing.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem is that they are perceived as experts and professionals. If they’re neither experts nor professionals, then the data (including all opinions and perceptions) that they provide are useless.

    • 0 avatar

      As instructors of performance driving our passion bleeds over especially when viewers could get the wrong idea on how to drive a car, something most do everyday. But when we get students who have watched too many YouTube videos on how to look cool going around a race track it bogs down the learning process having to remind them of proper hand position when not running errands around town.

      The best and quickest leverage to control a car is opposing hands on the wheel. Not sure if C&D kept the electronic stability on for their runs, but when ham-fisted even electronics looses out to physics usually win.

      Yes, that helmut is not cool!

  • avatar

    That was truly painful from a driver’s perspective (coming from someone who is by no means an expert or professional but has a lot of time on track seeking the betterment of their driving skill) as well as a journalistic perspective. Case in point why I let my subscription to C&D lapse about 8 years ago. Daily visits to TTAC are simply more informational and most of the time (I’m looking at you, Baruth) more entertaining.

  • avatar

    Car and Driver editors only drive BMWs that have such light and slow steering that you’d need spaghetti arms to complete a turn in without moving your hands.

  • avatar

    I read the C&D review at .

    The article states the 3.6 s 0-60 time is for the DSG equipped RS with launch control but that the stick-shift one is predicted to have a time of 4.5 s. So, in the video they show a stick and print a stat of 3.6 s.  Oops.

  • avatar

    Ooof… Top Gear it ain’t.  I actually nodded out before the conclusion.  Who won?

  • avatar

    Per Jack’s admonition some months ago, I now do my best to drive “9 & 3”, but on my Impala and MX5, the spokes are at that position, so I hold the wheel accordingly – with BOTH hands. Why do I emphasize that? I need to fully concentrate on my driving as I am legally blind in my left eye. I’m sure I have opened the door for all sorts of criticism, but in the last eight years, I have learned to be extra careful and drive as if I really mean it, being constantly aware of where I am on the road and everyone near me and not make any sudden moves. Little convex mirrors are a necessity too, so I’m not a hazard to anybody. I have always regarded driving as serious business even when young and although I have and still make mistakes, thus far I have been very fortunate and my family and friends are confident in my driving ability and have no fear of riding with me. What does this have to do with the subject at hand? Everything. If an amateur gets behind the wheel and puts himself in needless danger on a closed course, how does such an individual drive off the course? Personally, I see inconsiderate drivers every day on my commute down I-75 into Cincinnati displaying nothing but selfishness and a “me first” attitude, thus endangering others. You would never see me on a race course, as that is well beyond my ability and I know my limits.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Zack, I’ve come to believe that vision is more a matter of HOW you see and less of what your eyes mechanically see. I know a guy with some pretty serious vision deficiencies who has won a few races in the past couple years.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree with Jack. Being attentive and ‘seeing’ things before they develop is far more important in most driving situations than having perfect stereoscopic vision.

        p.s., I tried the 9 and 3 again today, and while the spokes on my old VW Jetta aren’t set up right for it (they’re set more at 8 and 4, which feels awkward to me), it felt quite comfortable and much more natural than my usual 10 and 2 (and more relaxed as well, especially in the shoulders). So consider me converted.

  • avatar

    Keeper of Dead Brands say:  9 and 3 with the suicide knob directly above my right hand (easier on old wrists and shoulders).

  • avatar
    slow kills

    Fifty-pencing on corners is pretty evident, and largely a result of jerky shuffling instead of smooth steering input.

  • avatar

    RE: Open faced helmets

    Ever seen World Rally Championship racing Jack?  Open faced helmets for the drivers and the navigators.  Are you telling me they can’t drive?  Sure they have microphones, but those could be fitted to a full-face helmets if it were an issue.

    BTW, my helmet is full face, but I have learned not to judge how well someone drives on the track by helmet style (and a whole host of other things). Just show me the lap times.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Morea, it’s my belief/understanding that WRC mandates open-faced helmets for the same reason that some series mandate open cockpits — it’s a spectator-friendly deal. Watching WRC is enhanced by being able to see their faces and reactions. They clearly have no choice in the matter or *someone* would choose a closed-face helmet. Also, consider that would happen if the mikes went out…

      When I see someone in a cheap helmet, that tells me they don’t really expect to crash. If you go fast enough, and push hard enough, you will eventually crash. Happens to everyone from young Mr. Vettel on down.

      • 0 avatar

        A look at the FIA sporting regulations ( shows that the only rule relating to open faced helmets is that they cannot be worn in open cars (e.g. F1).  It is silent on what is required for WRC.  It does give a list of FIA approved helmets but they are a mix of open and closed helmets.

        I will buy the argument though that communication is so important to rallying that if the communication system breaks down the navigator must shout to the driver, although those cars are loud enough that I doubt he would hear him.

        BTW Kimi Raikkonen wears a closed helmet, but he did not start out as a rally driver. Old habits die hard I guess.

  • avatar

    Okay. There’s the “M3” and the “M5”, but this is the “1M”. WTMF??? 

    And, if this is C&D, where’s Berkowitz? A BMW was present, so there were probably a number of thick envelopes to pass around…

  • avatar

    Baruth, you are such a charlatan. Seriously.
    Let’s look at the quote you start with. What’s “wrong” with shuffle-steering? Well, we have no idea, because the quote you provide is in FAVOR of shuffle-steering. Are you saying the guy who wrote this is mistaken? Presumably that’s what you’re thinking, but you forgot to tell us about it. If you’re going to be a pompous ass, at least learn how to write first. Fair?
    Now for your knockdown argument, which is…erm…if you shuffle-steer then you must be slow?
    Is that the logic you’re using there?
    Note first that you have no evidence this particular driver is slow.
    Moreover, even if he is slow (which you have no way of knowing), you have no evidence that he does the driving for the Lightning Lap features you mention (I believe they hire professional racers for that), so your statement that “this is how they are getting the numbers” is completely baseless.
    It would be slander if you mattered.
    And finally, this technique-bashing B.S. is just not how talented athletes (including drivers) think. You know what your “argument” here is like? It’s like looking at a guy shooting around in the gym, thinking to yourself “I don’t think his technique is correct,” and then CONCLUDING that he must be an inferior player. That’s stupid. He might be Shawn Marion. Or you might be wrong about his technique.
    A serious driver would care about only one thing in this context, something that we are in no position to judge from your evidence: IS THE GUY FAST.
    Incidentally, you are probably not.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth


      Sorry your comment disappered… it was moderated by a TTAC editor and I’ve brought it back to respond.
      C/D has attributed Lightning Lap times to their own staffers in the past. Hope that answers your concerns on this matter.

      As for whether I am “fast”, if I were “fast” I would be running in ALMS prototypes or planning a 40th birthday in F1 as Mr. Schumacher has done. There are only a few hundred “fast” guys in the world. None of them are much interested in writing about street cars for the readers of TTAC. Being “fast” is an 18-hour-a-day job.

      In the gap between “fast” and NASA HPDE 1 there is a gap which is equivalent to roughly thirty seconds on a two-mile course. I have twenty-eight or twenty-nine of those seconds firmly in hand, enough to win club races and set track records. I earned that time by

      a) hiring a personal instructor and working with him for five years
      b) driving as many as fifty days per year on track
      c) spending every dime I had to find and make opportunities to drive
      d) taking the craft of driving well seriously and listening to the people who are better than I am at that craft.

      Your basketball analogy simply shows you don’t know anything about racing. I’ve held professional licenses for both cycling and auto racing. Cycling, like basketball, is something where talent can trump technique. Auto racing was lilke that in 1950 but it is so no longer. Consider that virtually the entire lap time difference between Barrichello and Schumacher in the Ferrari salad days could be attributed to the tenths of a second it took for Rubens to move his right foot from pedal to brake. Technique matters and all of your faux-world-weary posturing won’t change that.

      • 0 avatar

        I do appreciate your willingness to engage your readers. Having said that, you didn’t address most of my objections. I’ll recap.
        (1) Your lead quote actually supports shuffle-steering. This is an anti-shuffle-steering post. What gives?
        (2) You have provided no evidence that this particular driver is slow.
        (3) You have provided no evidence that this particular driver drives for the Lightning Lap features.

        Let me address one point that you did make.
        You are correct that C/D had their own guys do the LL driving, for 2011 at least. Four staffers, to be exact. However, your smear-job in the post suggests that (1) these LL-driving staffers might/probably shuffle-steer (horrors!), and (2) that means they’re slow. On the first implication, as noted, you have no evidence behind you. The guy in the picture could be a non-LL driver and the only shuffle-steerer on staff for all you know. On the second, you again have a zero-evidence problem. Talking smack about a hallowed publication will get you attention, sure, but it is also slander if your smack has no evidential basis.
        Also, I reject your assumption that the LL data must be generated by hardcore drivers with perfect technique (i.e. almost-fast drivers like you, presumably) in order to be useful. The numbers they generate only have meaning relative to each other. I don’t care if a Mustang did a 3:20 at wherever they do LL; I care about how it stacked up relative to the Genesis Coupe. I’m confident that the LL methodology gives me reliable data on that.
        Overall, again, those years of instruction apparently haven’t taught you a fundamental truth about sports. The question isn’t what technique you use to get to the crucial point, whether it’s hitting an apex or a golf ball–the question is, DO YOU HIT IT RIGHT. Period. Don’t believe me? Find a professional racer and ask him (or her), “So I saw a picture of a dude shuffle-steering…that means he’s slow right??” Tell me how that goes.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        “Find a professional racer and ask him (or her), “So I saw a picture of a dude shuffle-steering…that means he’s slow right??” Tell me how that goes.”

        Okay. I found a professional racer. He has a Grand-Am pro license, he lives in my house, and he’s me, and he agrees with me. Fair enough?
        That being said, I talk to professional auto racers quite a bit, and they agree with me, to a man. I was trained by Ross Bentley as an instructor, and I take most of my dogma straight from him. He’s proven it in thousands of situations.  

        As for the idea that it’s “slander” to suggest that one C/D staffer participated in the Lightning Laps, that’s a pretty wide definition of slander.

        Lastly, I see where you’re coming from with the idea that equivalent lap times are equivalent, but that’s like saying that a Les Paul and a Strat sound identical because a novice playing “Smoke On The Water” is equally horrible. Real-world example. Grand-Am champion Jamie Holtom and I were driving the same Civic in a race. The data says we were too close to call everywhere but in the Climbing Esses. That’s where he pulled out the lead. Why? He was comfortable with the rear toe setting, having been instrumental in developing the car, and I wasn’t. Take out the toe setting and we’d be identical. Question: Are the two setups identically fast? Of course not, but it takes a particular talent set to get the difference out. The same could be true for, say, the Gen Coupe and Mustang V6. One driver might run 3:25s in both, another might run a 3:25 in one and a 3:22 in the other. Which comparison is correct?

      • 0 avatar


        I recall a few years ago that Car and Driver ran an article about attending Hal Needham’s stunt driving school, and that Needham taught the technique of shuffle steering. He had his reasons, as most of the cars he performed stunts in were big old US barges with slow steering and often the intention was to drive dramatically rather than quickly. He was also a master of driving in reverse and various spins into and out of reverse. IIRC, the editor writing the article wen’t into the process with your opinion of shuffle steering and had his mind changed by the experience.

      • 0 avatar

        Baruth, your Grand-Am pro license isn’t impressing anyone other than maybe your mom. Five years of training and that’s the best you can do?
        Oh but wait–some racers you know agree, “to a man,” with your claim that if you shuffle-steer then you are slow. Well, okay, all racers I know agree, to a man, that you judge a driver by his lap times, not the way he grips things. Persuaded?
        The slander is of course not what you describe. Nice try (or poor reading comprehension?). As I made quite clear, the slander is inferring from a photo of a dude shuffle-steering that C/D guys are inferior drivers and therefore the LL results are not to be trusted. That’s a baseless, absurd, and defamatory inference.
        Re: your bit about extracting the most from every car, perhaps C/D should outsource their track-testing to someone who engineered the chassis of the car being tested? If you have something more practical in mind, I’m not seeing it.
        But back to the fundamental point, which is: you saw a picture of a C/D dude shuffle-steering and turned it into a story about how C/D is full of b.s. Yet you have no evidence to support this story. While you’re looking up “slander,” check out “charlatan” too.

      • 0 avatar

        Silence. Hm. Is this what you do when you’re wrong? Run and hide?

      • 0 avatar


        I thought I would register just so I could reply to this. I understand what you are saying about shuffle steering in the vast majority of people without professional level experience, but I myself use a modified shuffle steering technique and I’m a 2 time California state karting champion, lap record holder on 2 course 1 of which I set when I was 14 and still hasn’t been beaten as far as I know, off pole IKF nationals qualifier and podium finisher in 2 classes, Regional S1 SKUSA shifter kart champion, and a national 2011 top 5 competitor in S1 and ICC for Stars of Tomorrow and SKUSA. I’ve tested Skip Barber formula cars and Star Mazda formula cars and was an accepted entry to the Skip Barber scholarship shootout. Also a club level SCCA F street prepared driver. All of these on a budget half the size of our competition. I’ve been racing since I was 7 years old with the same steering technique. My version: Only my outside hand shuffles down the wheel as in my right hand on right hand turns and vice versa. The amount of movement is determined by the sharpness of the corner which is learned over a few laps. I find that having my hands near 1 and 8(right turn) or 11 and 4(left turn) at the apex helps me control my steering corrections in the event of oversteer. I also have a $1200 custom painted Arai corsair, so we can rule out shuffle steering affecting helmet choice.

        Although, I do agree that the vast majority of people who shuffle steer do it dangerously. I just don’t think that’s enough to condemn the style. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with. If you’re about to crash you’re doing something wrong anyway and it isn’t your steering technique. As someone said earlier the lap times are what it comes down to. I’ve seen high level drivers cock their head before turns, some tilt their head, some lean their bodies into it, I’ve even seen people who heel toe backwards.

        That being said I don’t particularly like Car and Driver and I don’t much like the bench racing aspect of car reviews in general, but I do enjoy your blog.

  • avatar

    What’s wrong with the open helmet?
    Also, though I find the arguments against it convincing, I have been told that the great Walter Röhrl practises shuffle steering.

  • avatar
    John R

    This C&D feature bothers me immensely. An 1-series M, a TT-RS (with a transmission you or I cannot have) and then the G37S IPL. Essentially a G37S with a less restricted exhaust and stiff springs. Why? Of course the G is going to be stomped.
    For C&D’s next trick! An STI, Evo and…Civic Si comparo!

  • avatar

    The other day, I was teaching my daughter how to get the maximum deflection while keeping the hands in position, because I heard reports that she was not turning sharp enough in one of the corners in the neighbourhood… and I thoght: “my god, I’m turning into Jack, only SLOW”. Now I shuffle every chance I get, just for practice.

    (The trick to do make these corners with a 1:22 rack is something I got from Juan Monotoya, incidentially)

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