These Are Rallycross Champion Tanner Foust’s 6 Tips For Winter Driving

We may be getting close to March, and spring is in the air... but there are still plenty of Northerners who have at least another month of snow and ice to cope with. So, here are six tips from Tanner Foust, rallycross champion and Top Gear America host, on how to best navigate roads in freezing temperatures.

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If you’ve been living under a rock—or happen to be of a different generation—Foust has racked up a laundry list of achievements racing on all types of terrain and with all different kinds of rallycross cars. He’s got gold medals from the X Games, Global Rallycross Championships, and a Formula Drift championship. In other words, the man is a master of car control, even on dirt, snow, and ice.

This mini-lesson comes courtesy of Volkswagen, which set the pro driver up with an Atlas Cross Sport to bestow his mighty knowledge upon us:

The tips themselves are pretty straightforward:

  1. Let traction control give you a hand
  2. Buy the right (aka winter) tires
  3. Focus on one thing at a time
  4. Avoid skidding
  5. Leave plenty of braking room
  6. Be prepared

This isn’t rocket science. Anyone who has been driving long enough probably knows some version of these six tips, even if they don’t live in typically frigid temperatures. But sometimes having a professional drop a reminder can help those folks who seem to forget that snow means shit’s going to be slippery. (I’m looking at you, Philadelphia when it snows earlier than expected.)

But if you’re new to snowy driving, number four is probably going to be the biggest benefit to you. He goes over basic concepts of understeer and oversteer, then illustrates what that looks like. Basically, these two situations happen if you’re rolling into a corner too hot and try to brake at the wrong time. Foust doesn’t say it quite so directly, so I will: slow the fuck down before you turn. Slow down long before you need to turn when it’s snowy or icy. You’ll thank me—and I suppose Tanner Foust, too—later.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

DISCUSSION

Notably Absent: 7) when it does drop buckets of snow, go find an empty parking lot and figure out in a (relatively) safe space how your vehicle handles on unpredictable surfaces. Practice early and late braking in corners and how the brakes can decide which tires get better grip. Practice emergency braking on snow so that ABS doesn’t have to do all the work for you without you having a say in the matter. Practice recovering from a slide without stopping. Practice what a slide actually feels like so that it is one less emotion you have to deal with if and when it happens in traffic. Besides, you’ll have an absolute blast doing all of the things above.