Disclaimer: Before we dive into this driving technique, let’s make it clear that the J-turn is a stunt move and should never be attempted on public roads or in your own car… Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s explore this thrilling manoeuvre known as the J-turn, also referred to as the “Moonshiner’s Turn,” “Rockford Turn,” or “Reverse 180.”
The History Behind the Names: The J-turn earned its aliases due to its colourful history. During Prohibition, bootleggers used it as an evasive technique to escape the authorities. The term “Moonshiner’s Turn” might be confusing because there’s another move called the “Bootlegger’s Turn,” where the car is moving forward, and the driver pulls the e-brake to spin the car around in the opposite direction. On the other hand, the Moonshiner’s Turn involves the bootlegger being faced with a roadblock, forcing them to quickly reverse and head in the opposite direction.
The term “J-turn” can be traced back to the TV show “The Rockford Files.” The show’s protagonist, Jim Croce, often needed clever ways to escape when pulled over for speeding or having one too many beers. The “J” in J-turn stands for Jim. Since the manoeuvre looks like the letter “J,” it became synonymous with the show and was also called the “Rockford Turn.” Alternatively, it can be referred to as “The Reverse 180”
Step-by-Step Guide to Executing the J-Turn:
- Start in Reverse: Get your car moving in reverse at a speed of about 30 Kmph Try to use your mirrors rather than turning your head 180 degrees; you’ll see why this is important soon.
- Prepare for the Manoeuvre: Clutch in and take your foot off the gas pedal.
- Initiate the Turn: Turn the steering wheel 180 degrees (some say 360, but this isn’t necessary if you’re going fast enough).
- Straighten Out: At about 90 degrees into the turn, start straightening the wheel and turn your head (if it was facing forward) towards the direction you intend to go. This will help position your front tires for the landing.
- Stick the Landing: As you slide, shift into first gear. Just before making contact with the ground, rev the gas and pop the clutch.
Remember, Safety First: We cannot stress this enough – the J-turn is a risky manoeuvre and should only be attempted by trained professionals in controlled environments. It’s not suitable for public roads, and attempting it without proper training can be dangerous and illegal.