What does "Doing Donuts" Mean?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

One shining example of reckless driving is a maneuver known as doing donuts, sometimes called turfing a yard or driving donuts. This involves driving a car in a tight circle while continuing to accelerate. The result is a series of circular ruts or skid marks carved out of a lawn or street surface. These little circles of wanton destruction are the "donuts" of the doing donuts maneuver.

Doing donuts will result in a series of skid marks on a street surface.
Doing donuts will result in a series of skid marks on a street surface.

Some crazy drivers feel the urge to do donuts whenever presented with a open patch of roadway, an empty parking lot or a section of flat lawn. They will first drive into the middle of the doomed property and turn sharply to the left or right as they accelerate. The shift in momentum generally swings the rear of the car around to the front, creating the circular divots or skid marks. As the driver continues to drive in circles, the divots become even more pronounced. A second or third donut may be attempted before driving out of the location.

Parking lots are the most popular locations for drivers to perform donuts.
Parking lots are the most popular locations for drivers to perform donuts.

Parking lots are especially popular locations for doing donuts without malice aforethought. The lack of innocent bystanders, the openness of the terrain and the loose surface gravel all make it easier for reckless drivers to perform the maneuver without losing control or causing major damage. Snow-covered parking lots awaiting the arrival of a snow plow can also be very popular places for doing donuts in the wintertime.

For drivers with malicious intent, however, a rival's football stadium or personal home may be the ideal place to perform destructive donuts. The effect of dozens of tight circles being carved into the turf can be very difficult to repair. Doing donuts or "turfing" a private yard or public property is considered to be an act of vandalism, and the offending driver could also face other charges of reckless driving and public endangerment.

The act of doing donuts with a privately owned vehicle in an approved location is not strictly illegal, but it can seriously damage the car's suspension, alignment and steering system if overdone. A one-time celebratory donut on the infield of a professional racetrack can be exciting to watch, but performing it in real life should only be attempted sparingly, if at all.

A driver who is doing donuts is driving a car in a tight circle while accelerating.
A driver who is doing donuts is driving a car in a tight circle while accelerating.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


Someone has been vandalizing our local football field by doing donuts on it repeatedly. It has happened three times in the past two weeks. The police are trying to find out who did it. Everyone is very upset because the field is really damaged and they are trying to fix it. Just when they fix it, they come back and do donuts again. The authorities here are even thinking about installing security cameras to catch the folks who are doing it.

I have no idea what kind of fun people get out of destroying a football field. Especially when it's the only football field we have here and it's disrupting the game schedule. I have a feeling that it's bored high school kids. But they need to be caught and charged with vandalism so that they learn a lesson.


I was doing donuts in the snow last Christmas. I say "had to" because the car was stuck in the snow and doing donuts was the only way I could get it out of the parking lot. It worked, but I don't advise it for amateur drivers. If there were cars around, I could have easily hit one.


I think people do donuts to show off their skills as a driver. Of course, I'm talking about people who are not trying to damage someone's property but who do donuts in open areas where damage won't occur. I agree that it can be dangerous and it's very rough on the tires, but not everyone can do donuts. So in a way, it does show that someone is a skilled driver.


I just can't imagine why anyone would want to tear up his car doing a stupid stunt like this. I only saw one case of "doing donuts" in my life, but it looked really bad.


When I was a kid I thought people who were doing donuts in the parking lot or turfing someone's yard were pretty cool. Now as an adult, I can see where the idea of having my own yard torn up by a malicious driver would be horrible. I had a neighbor get his yard trashed like that, and he told me the worst part was getting estimates from local landscapers for repairs. Doing donuts on private property is no joke. It all started over a school rivalry, which made it even worse. His son's school was playing football that night with a rival, and some kid from the other school just decided to turf the first yard he could find.

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