By on August 9, 2017

EcoBoost Mustang Burnout

True story: I once dated a woman who liked to kinda-semi-roleplay that I was Hannibal Lecter and she was Clarice Starling. I don’t mean that I served her anybody’s frontal lobe with a nice Chianti and some fava beans, but more that we would try to work phrases from the book into our conversations. Just in case you are wondering, this is a distant second place in the awkward-makeout-talk category of my sordid personal history, well behind the woman who wanted me to call her Bella while she called me Edward.

In Silence Of The Lambs, Dr. Lecter tells Clarice, “We begin by coveting what we see every day.” This is one of those statements that is almost too true for us to understand. We learn to want things by looking at them. It’s why very few people have whatever mental quality is required to order, and enjoy, truly bespoke items — cars, clothing, bikes, guns, watches, whatever. We like to see things and choose from them. It’s a combined limitation of the software (ability to imagine) and the hardware (the way we “see” is fairly hard-wired into our actual, physical eyes in all sorts of ways that we are just finding out about now) that comes standard with the human body.

The mere act of seeing something can be persuasive, even if we know in our heart that it’s not right for us — which was certainly the case with the Bella-and-Edward woman, I tell you. And that is how we come to this story of a fellow who wants a very specific kind of brake for his car… even if it’s not nearly enough to do the job.


James writes (via Instagram),

Hey Jack… what do you mean by saying that Mustangs typically need expensive brake upgrades for trackdays? Are they underbraked even with the performance-package six-piston front Brembos and 15-inch front rotors?

The problem here is that these are some awesome-looking brakes and it’s hard to believe that anything with this much visual appeal and obvious capacity isn’t quite up to the job. So maybe we need to define what the job is.

I tell my students that there are three levels of automotive brake capability. The first level is enough for a single high-speed stop. Most cars really only need enough brake to come to a safe halt from, say, 90 mph. Any brake system that can do that is probably capable of everything up to and including a mild bit of “spirited driving” on a back road. Until very recently, however, most cars did not have this much thermal capacity — something brought home to me in a forthright fashion when I drove a 1964 Continental around Cincinnati, Ohio this past weekend.

Well, that was then, this is now. The stock brakes on most Mustangs from 2005 to the present day are more than good enough for anything you’d reasonably do with them on the street. What they will not do is stand up to a 30-minute, far-above-legal-speed blast down a back road. For that, you need the next level: enough for intermittent high-speed use. Brake systems that can live up to this requirement have a lot of thermal capacity — meaning large-diameter platters, multiple front pistons, and some thought given to ventilation — but they will eventually need a rest and/or a bleeding of the boiled fluid.

Most “performance” systems, including the Brembo-branded systems out there for all of the Detroit Three pony cars, fall in this category. You can push them pretty hard over multiple stops, but you need to either give them adequate cool-off time between those stops or you need to bleed out the fluid at the end of your day and start over.

Last but not least, we have race-capable systems. These are brake systems that can perform for the entire length of, say, a nine-hour AER race without displaying an unacceptable amount of fade. There are very few cars that can accomplish this task without at least a change of brake fluid, and relatively few that can accomplish it without special race-compound pads.

The reason very few cars have race-capable systems is simple: almost nobody actually goes racing with their cars. Which wouldn’t matter if it was cheap to put good brakes on a car — look at all the cars that have flat-bottomed steering wheels despite not needing them — but it’s very far from cheap. Worse than that, high-capacity brakes are also expensive to service. I just had dinner with a fellow who works as a Maserati tech. He told me that it can cost $4k to perform a full brake service on a Ghibli. Given that the majority of Ghiblis have been sent out the door on heavily-subsidized leases that cost their owners under a grand a month, the idea of a $4,000 brake service doesn’t sit well with the lessors. Particularly not when they realize their Ghibli might need that service every year. “Isn’t there a cheaper way?” they ask.

“Absolutely. Stop using the brakes.” It befuddles these poor folks that a Ghibli needs Ferrari-level brake service but, if they were really smart, they’d ask why the Ghibli doesn’t cost more to service than, say, a 488GTB. After all, it’s heavier.

In my Instagram conversation with James, I explained to him that Mustangs actually require more brake than, say, a Corvette or Porsche 911. After all, Mustangs weigh more than Corvettes or 911s. This is hard to swallow, because it seems unfair, but the laws of physics don’t care about bang for the buck. They charge just as much thermal-capacity tax to slow down a 3,950-pound Mustang as they would a 3,950 Porsche sport-utility-vehicle. So if you are really going to push a Coyote-powered Mustang for long-run situations on a racetrack, you need at least a Macan Turbo’s worth of brakes — and even then, you aren’t going to have the same kind of bulletproof brake performance I used to get out of my Boxster S with Pagid Orange pads and high-temp brake fluid.

My minimum recommendation for a serious trackday Mustang is the Baer Extreme 15-inch brakes front and rear. In my opinion, they are going to shed heat a lot better than the (probably) Chinese Brembos that Ford offers. And with serious-sized rotors both front and rear, you won’t overheat the back brakes early into the session. That’s $6,000 worth of upgrade, which ain’t cheap. I feel bad for anybody who buys a Mustang because of its delightful engine only to find out too late that they must then provide the whoa to match the go. I can understand why it’s hard to understand why a relatively cheap car needs such expensive brakes.

As Dr. Lecter would say, “We assign a moment to decision, to dignify the process as a timely result of rational and conscious thought. But decisions are made of kneaded feelings; they are more often a lump than a sum.”

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

71 Comments on “Ask Jack: These… Are… the Brakes!...”


  • avatar
    FlyinGato@youtube

    Brakes have come so far, and while the Mustang’s problem seems to be weight and power adding too much heat to a decent system, the new Civics, especially the non Si versions, are WOEFULLY underbraked. I took mine to the track and after about 3 laps at Pocono North, they were completely cooked. If you look at them, they barely exist inside the 18 inch rims. Ridiculous…

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I can always get a chuckle walking through a parking lot by spotting factory wheel set ups with giant spindly spoke aluminum wheels and tiny little bakes. One of the more ridiculous of recent years is the optional 22 in rims on many highly trimmed pickups.

      Talk about bakes that look lost inside the wheel!

      • 0 avatar
        Willyam

        Truth. I kind of cringe driving in traffic with lifted and Punisher-stickered sedan-trucks here on the plains. The money that went into tires and lift and payment did NOT go equally into ways of stopping that much more rolling mass.

        Yes, they do occasionally mash things.

  • avatar
    Chris Tonn

    A lesson here?

    Use something significantly lighter on track than a two-ton pony car.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Yeah, here, let me spend your money for you. Go get another car.”

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      That would work if smart people were the target market for Mustangs and M4s.

      STIs suffer from reality too. The customers who drive them have to get out of their loans and leases when it is time to replace the brakes.

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        I know someone who had to get out of their STI (2006 I think) because a major diff failed just out of warranty, dealer presented a $6000 repair bill. The car he got after from the same dealer, a Legacy w/ manual (2013). The clutch died, just out of warranty, I think it was 60,000 miles. Dealer wanted $5000. I’m not touching those with a 10 foot pole.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “well behind the woman who wanted me to call her Bella while she called me Edward.” lol – OK dang it, I can’t top that one – although I have been told that I have a tendency to growl (without being aware of it) when things are really good.

    Everyone ought to be forced to spend some time in an all drum brake car to gain some healthy respect for safe stopping distances. I know my 50 year old Mustang has made me a better driver just by having to respect the unboosted drum brakes.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      I couldn’t live with that on my 67 Camaro. I had to go to front discs. At least I was able to get factory vintage parts (at a pretty stiff price) to keep it “original”.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The fluid reservoir was leaking and my mechanic replaced it without consulting me about if I wanted to upgrade to a boosted replacement (very irritating). I would have at least considered assisted bakes.

      • 0 avatar
        True_Blue

        I went Wilwood disc fronts on my 1968 fastback. They’re still unassisted, and you’re always cognizant of your following distance, but what a huge, uh, “boost” to the braking capability.

    • 0 avatar
      2drsedanman

      “Everyone ought to be forced to spend some time in an all drum brake car to gain some healthy respect for safe stopping distances.”

      Agreed. I would take it a step further and say if everyone who drives a car had to drive a motorcycle for a day, they would come away with a much better appreciation of braking, maintaining safe distances, awareness of other drives, road conditions, etc. My brief motorcycle ownership probably did more to make me a better car driver than anything before or since.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      I spent my formative years driving a 1931 Model A, with the awesome cable brake setup. Have never really, totally trusted brakes–any of them–since.

      My 1956 Austin-Healey 100M has drums around; they were actually good–large and self-servoing–for the time. My Model A experience comes in handy.

      Ditto on the Mustang brakes; my dad’s ’65 has a servo, but it doesn’t help much. There are shoe upgrades that supposedly help, but we don’t drive it enough to worry too much.

      • 0 avatar
        Willyam

        My terrifying experience was with my age 16 mowing job’s ’65-ish Ford F-100. Red and white, cracked vinyl seat and column shifter. It had been maintained exactly never.
        When you braked, only one drum worked, and the steering wheel would spin hard right in your hands. After a curb-jump or two, you learned to anticipate a LOT.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Yep. My ’63 Thunderbird has 4 wheel drums, and the fronts are 11×3 inch. They work pretty good on the first hard stop, sort of on the second, pedal right to the floor on the 3rd. It makes you more aware of how you need to plan out stopping and using the gear shifter when appropriate.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    This was an excellent article that pointed out something that should be obvious, but doesn’t really occur to quite a lot of people that should be thinking about it.

    I’d also like to point out the corollary that if you AREN’T driving your car like a maniac, you can safely ignore reviews complaining that “[Daily Driver] doesn’t come with rotors the size of a NY Pizza” If a car can swiftly trigger the ABS and hold it all the way to an emergency stop from highway speed, those brakes are good enough for everyday use.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Also, people need to realize that if you buy the large and/or ceramic brake package, it will make some noise. There is probably a 50:1 ratio of people who complain about the noise of their race car brakes versus people who actually use them on a track.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      ….Unless every day use include prolonged, steep twisty downhills….

      Narrower, less grippy tires, is a good way of extending the life of brakes, as well as making most factory suspensions seem more suitable, both on road and track. Putting race slicks on virtually any street car for a track day, will cook the brakes, and have you bouncing from bumpstop to bumpstop in every corner, almost no matter what car you brought.

    • 0 avatar

      Just about any car you can buy today will have a brake package good enough to engage ABS and be fine on the street. My gripe with small brake rotors is usually not about functionality but happens when automakers offer a huge wheel upgrade but leave the base small brakes in place making it look like the wheel and brakes do not go together because of the large difference in size.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “Just about any car you can buy today will have a brake package good enough to engage ABS and be fine on the street.”

        My TSX is not confidence inspiring at all at braking a couple times from 80 or 90 down to 60 on the highway. Not at all.

        Weak brakes is another reason I likely won’t buy another Acura (unless they do some sort of V6TT with upgrade brakes a la the TL Type S).

        • 0 avatar
          denvertsxer

          Yes, Honda/Acura brakes aren’t the greatest. I recently replaced the front pads and rotors on my 65,000-mile 2006 TSX (with basically factory-equivalents; no real upgrades) and it did make a noticeable improvement.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Truth.

    God, I’ve ruined the brake systems on many factory “performance” cars after two 20 minute lapping day sessions. Blue rotors, smoking calipers, bad pedal feel.

    Interestingly the same concepts apply when applying a tow rating to a vehicle. I know for a fact that the tow rating on my Ram 1500 isn’t limited by the suspension, engine or transmission capacity…it’s the brakes that are the limiting factor.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      What are you towing that causes brake issues? My 2002 4.7/NV3500/3.55 is tow limited by the transmission/axle ratio combo. Without the granny-ish 1st it would never move off the line and towing a 5k loaded RV (at GCWR limit) on flat ground at highway speed is taxing. I only ever notice any slight impact on braking when attempting to stop at the bottom of a hill. If you notice the impact on braking you need to dial up the trailer brakes. If you aren’t using trailer brakes, you’re probably towing more than is legally allowed without trailer brakes.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Nothing is giving me braking issues when towing. I never hit the limit. It tows an 8500lb enclosed car hauler great all the time. The engineering limits preventing greater rated capacity are the brakes. I don’t tow up to the Davis Dam, so I’ll probably never see that limit.

  • avatar
    John HP

    Brake it up, brake it up, brake it up!!

    Couldn’t resist after I read the title…

  • avatar
    chaparral

    For the cost of the Mustang brake upgrade, he could have a whole-chassis upgrade with raceworthy brakes:

    http://www.accelerationkarting.com/tonykartracer401chassis.html

    That’s a world-champion chassis, brand new out of the box, covered in exotica.

  • avatar

    A good pad and high temp fluid will do wonders for the Gym-class heroes at track days.

    Most sessions are 20-30 minutes.

    For our endurance cars, we’d still run stock-ish brakes with a super secret compound and a high temp fluid – 24 hours, no problem.

    • 0 avatar
      jlbg

      Right? I don’t agree that you would need to spend thousands of $ on upgrade rotors and calipers.
      I also race in AER and we have good brake fluid and expensive race pads. They last all weekend, and more. We didn’t even use half the pad at Watkins Glen.

  • avatar
    greenbrierdriver

    Ahh, 4-wheel unboosted, non-ABS Drums. In a 4,000 lb brick. Yes, slamming the brakes on when traffic on Airport Freeway suddenly STOPs from 70 can be an exhilarating experience. My Sons wonder why I leave lots of space between me and the vehicles in front of me, aside from the fact that I cant accelerate as fast as everyone else, either. They’ve never driven anything without Power, ABS Discs. A quick lap around the big parking lot at the High School teaches them the difference really quickly.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    If anybody ever told me they would introduce a need for track ready brakes with the “The Silence of the Lambs” I would have laughed…however, it was remarkably well done…I’ll go look at my Z51 rotors and see what movie comes to mind…

    Seriously, the explanation is spot on. I actually consider the quality of today’s brakes to be quite good. I look at the tiny rotors on my 92 Sable (hey, at least its discs on all four corners), the pathetic brakes on older GM W bodies and compare them to what newer cars offer…I agree with the need for the ability to perform very well…though I would pay for more brake if it would give shorter stopping distances. Of course tires play a critical part as well. Is the expensive hardware worth it?

    Here might be the answer. Driving home one evening traffic was going 70. I’m in the third lane, sandwiched between the Jersey barrier and middle lane traffic. I had good space between me and other cars, but suddenly the traffic came to a full stop. I always scan far ahead, something I think has kept me from at-fault accidents in 750K miles of driving. Maybe I spaced out, who knows, but I’m bearing down on a fully stopped Accord. At 70. I hammered the pedal – Altima’s have brakes that sense rapidly depressed pedals and you get immediate full engagement. No place to go, I watch the gap decreasing between me and that Accord. Calculating the rate of deceleration and the gap in my head, I know I am not going to make it. My first at-fault. In a company car. 100% my doing. I accept it is going to happen, and mentally are prepared for the outcome. The Accord driver looks into his mirror – yeah you will be amazed at what you see and remember in near slow motion as disaster is about to strike – and moves forward as much as he can. I stop so close to him that the bottom half of his car is hidden my my hood. I avoid the disaster, thanks to that Accord driver. Then I started thinking would I have been able to stop with premium quality brake pads/rotors and performance tires instead of fleet-spec parts? Maybe, maybe not. Still, I’m glad that every single vehicle in my house has the best brakes that are available and premium tires…Had I blasted that Accord there would have been a hell of a lot more expense than the cost of premium quality brakes and tires.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I was in Phoenix traffic back in June 2016 on the freeway and was following my wife’s aunt (driving a 2005ish Durango) and I was driving my Highlander. Suddenly traffic slams on the brakes – later we discovered it was due to a box truck catching fire in traffic.

      I slammed on the brakes and steered a bit right toward the barrier wall to gain space. She had the presence of mind to check her rear view and dive left. Saved both of our bacon.

    • 0 avatar
      jlbg

      I had this happen a few months ago, but it was reversed. I was stopped and saw the driver behind me coming in too fast. I dodged into the shoulder, but she still clipped my bumper and bounced off into the lane of moving traffic. She was VERY lucky she didn’t cause a bigger accident.

      Still cost $6500 to fix though. If she had hit me center, it would have been SO SO Much more.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    Weight is the enemy. 2 weeks ago there was this GTR trailing me on track, for 3 laps, then it started to fade and fade and fade. Was it brakes, tires, who knows, 4000lbs can only be pushed so hard for so long.

    As long as magazines test cars for 1 fast lap we’ll be getting irrelevant products like tires that take one lap to warm, run one great lap and then start fallign off. Brakes that are good for 3 laps maybe. Heavy cars with lots of Hp great paper numbers that cant really hack it.

    Maybe some magazine thinks a z06 vette is faster than GT3, out on the track by lap 3 the vette is non contender, in fact by lap 10 the grand sport vette is faster than the z06, and its not just computer dialback due to heat soak.

    Probably all of us use our brakes way to much. a pro racer asked me what I thought the brakes were for, I said to slow the car, “no” he said” they are to settle the car”

    In any event its a great pleasure drive a car that does not run out of brakes on track. Very very very few out the box cars can say this. maybe Lotus and some proche.

    For the street and light track work, pads and fluids do wonders for many brake systems.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Jackie Stewart said of braking: “It’s not when you brake but when you take them off that counts. Most people don’t understand that.”

      My first clue that I was becoming a better driver was catching people (in better cars) in brake zones. I noticed they were braking way too soon and for too long. If you watch any professional racing you quickly see that almost all passing occurs under braking. Thus racing is not about going fast instead it is managing to NOT go slow.

      • 0 avatar
        jlbg

        Good brakes is the way to go. I’ve passed many many cars by braking later and getting past.

        For a DE though, I’m fine with braking at the 4 instead of the 2. I’ve gotta drive that car home and if something is off, at least I have that much more time to figure it out. It’s not a race and I don’t really care about that extra time.

        Braking a bit early at a DE also lets you practice setting up for the turn and how you can use trail braking to help the car around the corner.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      …z06 vette is faster than GT3, out on the track by lap 3 the vette is non contender….

      Even with the carbon ceramic brake rotors?

  • avatar
    bienville

    Thanks for getting that song stuck in my head

  • avatar
    JMII

    Preach on brother. I started tracking my 350Z about 4 years ago and have learned more about brakes then I ever wanted to know.

    Those stock single pistons with 11.6″ factory rotors = worthless on the track. Boiled fluid and scary brake fade occurs very quickly. Really shocking that Nissan’s engineers let this so-called performance sports car leave the factory with such tiny stoppers. I even blew out a piston seal resulting in the complete loss of my passenger side rear brake right before a hairpin once. Lucky there was enough run off room and the turn before things felt squishy so I didn’t go in at full tilt. Now I’m running 14″ rotors, 4 piston Akebono BBK aluminum calipers with Motul racing fluid and race specific pads. Nice consistent stops over multiple sessions including coming down from 125 MPH when entering the dreaded double apex teeth chattering turn 17 at Sebring. The layout of the Z’s front end doesn’t allow for many good cooling or ducting options unless you go full racecar and start putting holes in your bumper (and I’m not at that level yet).

    In addition to be under braked most cars have inadequate tires for track work. Dodge Challenges come to mind – tons of HP and TQ but thin, hard street rubber results in constant sideways action. Sure it looks fun (look ma I’m drifting) but being in the instructor seat staring at the inside concert barrier of turn 7 at Homestead is something I desire to not repeat.

    Combine the above two items with those that choose to pimp their ride with stupid, oversized heavy rims and your asking for trouble. Now on a daily driver this isn’t that big of a deal since as long as the brakes can reaching into ABS you should be fine. In most cases the limit here is more about tire grip then braking capacity. I just wonder how many people don’t realize how HARD you can push on the brake pedal to get slowed down quickly. I believe few years ago Mercedes came out with a system that applies extra force when it detects an emergency braking situation because thier black box crash data revealed the car wouldn’t have stopped in time IF the drive had used all 100% of the stock brakes.

    As far as the cost of brakes… once again the answer is Miata. With so little weight any brake or tire upgrades here give dramatic results. Weight is always your enemy on track because it effects ALL aspects of race craft: braking, cornering, acceleration.

    • 0 avatar
      chaparral

      … and a Miata outweighs a TaG kart by a factor of six, with similar differences in operating cost on track.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        Yes, but you can put a license plate on the Miata and use it for other things besides just track days.

        Things like going to work, or taking a lady out for ice cream on a Sunday afternoon.

        I’d also bet that on-track skills developed in a Miata or any other sporting car transfer better to the street than the same skills learned in a go-kart.

        • 0 avatar
          chaparral

          On-track skills learned in the “four grand Grand Prix car” transfer very quickly to just about anything. You have to be able to drive ahead of a vehicle accelerating at .8g, braking and turning at 2.2g, and capable of spinning in its own length if you lock the brakes. Going from that to a road car is like an A-4 pilot climbing into a Cessna 172.

    • 0 avatar
      Eiriksmal

      What’d those monsters do to your unsprung weight? Did you have to get new wheels or run spacers? My rev-up ’05 G35 sedan feels like it needs a stopping power upgrade, but it’s already so slow… =/

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Yeah the weight BBK is a downside, it can be somewhat offset with 2 piece rotors or lighter wheels. I’m running High Flow Cats and while the HP boost is tiny the car does seem to rev free-er. I’d bet swapping in a lightweight flywheel would have a similar effect (if you can deal with the chatter). Currently the Akebonos just fit under my OEM 18″ wheels. And when I say “just” I mean I’ve had to relocated wheel weights to ensure they clear.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    I’ve enjoyed the Twilight movies. The premise (shy girl gets sucked into the strange world of mercurial vampires), the setting (stuff set in the northwest USA has a nice vibe about it, Life is Strange and 50 Shades of Grey are more examples), the soundtrack (moody dreamy electropop and punk-pop), the cinematography (gorgeous cloudy Washington forest scenery, some yellow Porsche in Italy action), the characters (everyone in the vampire family were compelling and interesting characters) with the exception of the leads. They are nice to look at, but its clear they were not enthusiastic about their roles. I don’t understand the hate, its a hell of a lot better than the overly conservative and boring Hunger Games.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      My wife dragged me to one of the Twilight movies once. I pounded three Maker’s Mark Manhattans before the movie, and then halfway through I snuck out and across the street to the bar and drank two more. Eventually I passed out (snoring) and missed the rest of the movie. Thank god. All I remember was a bunch of angsty teenagers professing to be in love with one another and then coming up with weird reasons to not have sex.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    I half-called this post: bit.ly/2vjWIP8 :)

    Anyway, now I’m glad I didn’t lease that Ghibli!

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    Simple solution. Satrt doing 10 lap tests of manufactuers so called track cars. You can show fatest lap, 9th lap and average lap. Thats will seperate the wheat from the chaff.

    Manufactuers sell paper numbers aided and abeted by the motoring press.

    As to tires, what tires a acr comes with are irrlevant on track because showroom tires last 1 maybe 2 days and then a car gets more track specific tires for the track use, and moer street specific tires if its running on road.

    Might as well test all cars on track with the same tires that will really seprate the wheat from the chaff and show which car is really capable of what.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    Can you explain further why you think the Baer brakes would shed heat more readily than the Ford Brembos?

    The Baer website lists the following as thermal management advantages:
    1) their calipers are aluminum
    2) the rotors have directional vanes

    The Ford Brembos do not appear to be directionally vaned. Is the cooling difference vs straight vanes that significant?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      What about size? And not just rotor diameter, also check the thickness. My brother swapped his Golf R’s brakes for Audi TT-RS and those rotors were seriously beefy. The different on track was well worth it.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        I can see thicker rotors adding more thermal capacitance and thereby reducing total temps per given amount of heat put into them, but increasing thickness wouldn’t add much to the surface area of the rotors.

        I can’t see how it would materially increase heat rejection.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    We race a fairly competitive (in class) U-Body minivan with a 5-speed manual and Corvette C5 brakes. With the upgrade, it now has brakes for days and can run a 10-12 hour race with no issues.

    Prior to the upgrade, we had glowing orange rotors during a 24-hour race with the stock sized rotors (but with racing pads and fluid), just like LeMans cars. Except it was the cast iron rotor glowing. This was not a pleasant fix in the middle of the night.

  • avatar
    Peter Voyd

    Based on my reading of the preamble, I think Jack has independently rediscovered the WYSIATI concept (“What you see is all there is”), proposed by Daniel Kahneman.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I had a bad day coming down the mountains with the OEM rotors and pads on the Cobra replica. The TLDR: When I went to pull the caliper off the rotors there was pad material transferred in streaks to the rotor.

    There is a much, much better system on there now.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Good brakes and tires are what has ruined racing. In the old days, much of the passing was done when hamfisted drivers burned out their brakes and had to approach corners more slowly, which allowed drivers with a smoother style and more remaining brake capacity to pass with a late braking maneuver. Guys like Jimmy Clark were famous for going fast while being able to save tires and brakes, but that driver skill has been cast in the trash bin as tires and brakes have improved to work very well from beginning to end, despite less than skillful piloting. If F1 wanted to increase entertainment value they would require drum brakes (or at least metal disks), skinny hard tires, and no wings.

  • avatar
    tnk479

    Jack, where do BMW M2 brakes fall in the spectrum of capability? They certainly market the M models as track ready for something like a 30 minute run but in your experience are they?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I’ve instructed in an M’s or two, and share garage space with guy that has one. They seem to do fine with upgraded fluid and pad swaps.

      On the flip side I’ve seen Corvettes and Lamborghinis cook their brakes, but I wonder if that was more driver error then brake setup. The problem with rookie drivers is riding their brakes. They get on them too soon but not hard enough – and this elongates the braking zone which just increases the heat making things worse. For example I was instructing an FR-S driver and they were so slow and soft on their brakes (yet overall aggressive on throttle). So I did a few laps with their car and showed them just how late and how aggressive you could be. That car is just so easy to drive hard.

      The idea on track is using the brakes as little as possible, ideally you want to get on them late but super hard. The guy who taught me said you should attempt to push the pedal thru the firewall in each brake zone. Worst case is ABS or realizing you’ve slowed down too much. Its really a confidence issue as your mind tells you need to brake but in reality you can wait… but only if you hammer the middle pedal.

  • avatar
    LazyJK

    The funny thing is that sometimes the “slow” cars have better matched brakes than “performance” cars. It took me up until a slightly reprogrammed 2008 VW Polo GTI to really encounter something that can be described as useless brakes. Even with Motul RBF660 and EBC Yellowstuff pads I could get only 3 full force (meaning ABS engagement) brake applications before the pedal started getting soft, fast. And this is on 280 treadwear touring Continentals.

  • avatar
    raph

    I’ve never really looked into how feasible it would be to swap in the brakes from a GT350 but the consumables are pretty damn cheap. I can get through Tasca’s online parts program a complete set of rotors at about the same price it cost to put a set of two-piece DBA rotors on the front of my old GT500 and for what it cost to run DBA rotors at all four corners I can get all new rotors, pads, and fluid for the GT350.

    I suspect it would be fairly involved since the rear calipers on the GT350 are four piston and require a drum brake type parking brake which also may not be compatible with the ABS system on lesser Mustangs.

    The Ford Performance School GT350’s run the stock brake components (indeed the FPS cars are all just run of the mill GT350s with the track pack for pre 2017 school cars with the addition of a racing harness and roll bar. everything else right down to the tires are stock hardware).

    The instructors say the brakes are super awesome and I suspect they are for most people. My only anecdotal evidence is beating on my car for two sessions straight with the only real time to cool down was with a driver change.

  • avatar
    nemosdad

    What besides price, would be the downside to these uber brakes in day to day driving? Would they have crappy low speed bite?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      They can be noisier in day to day operation depending on design and friction compound. This bothers some people to no end. Greater unsprung mass can contribute to a harsher ride.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        And the levels of dust are quite high. You’ll notice a lot of track rats run black or dark grey wheels. Ideally you can swap pad compounds between street and track. My brother did that for awhile but is going to try leaving his race pads on all the time. He only drives his track car on weekends so its not a full time daily driver. I’ve never swapped mine but also run on mixed use pad like EBC Yellow. Even the less friendly EBC Blue were OK on the street. I moved over to Hawk HPS+ and hate them… they squeal like a stuck pig but I’m thinking the hardware (pins and clips) might to blame as they haven’t been swapped in awhile and were looking pretty tired.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “That’s $6,000 worth of upgrade, which ain’t cheap.”

    Yea. I think I’d just get a GT500 and stay off the tracks with turns.

  • avatar

    I’ll not forget my 1967 Fury II with “commando V8”. This lead sled had lovely, lovely mopar torque, and despite over two tons of Road Hugging Weight, got up to speed faster than any malise era pony car. Lots of fun skunking the Z28’s out there.

    Stopping was another matter. The car had disc/drums. You pretty much got one good stop…and hustling the car along (not that you’d do a lot of this) a twisty road-fade was a thing….

    Today, I see the carbon fiber discs on a lot of cars. While they are pretty, for a Street Driven car, why would you want a $5k brake job ? I see them on some M cars…the Audi R10….some Vettes…..and the CTS-V. For street, is there any reason at all ?

    I prefer the “sport brakes” on most cars…best brakes ever on a street car were the M sport brakes on my 330i.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I was just reading a post on a ‘Vette forum the other day about a guy swapping his Carbon brakes for good old iron discs for track work due to the cost. When my brother tracked his ‘Vette (before having kids and getting a Golf R) most guys recommended buying the cheapest rotors possible (no slots or drilled, just blanks) and swapping them along with the pads for track duty. Its hard to believe Carbons even get up to usable temperature on the street. Not sure of wear rates on Carbon but my traditional iron rotors have survived 12-15 track events, where as the poor pads only last 3!

  • avatar
    Damski

    This a great subject,and important because sometimes people hear that they can bring any car for their first track day. While this may be true, you can bring any car, your day may be very short if you are running stock brakes. They will overheat and you may not have enough pad left to drive home safely. The easiest answer is to buy some track only brake pads, and install them at the track, and remove them before you leave the track!!! A true track only pad has almost no cold bite to it, they have to reach an operating temperature of several hundred degrees. This is why you have a warm up lap at track days, before they give you a green flag. Track tires and brakes DO NOT WORK when cold!
    There were some good comments about manufacturer and car magazine testing. If they really wanted to show us an apples to apples comparison they would put the same tires on all the cars tested on track. But lets be real, they don’t care about any of that. They just want to sell you this years greatest sports car, and the slightly better one next year, again, and again.
    My two cents on making brakes work on track: flush the brakes with new fluid the day before you head to the track. It doesn’t need to be the most expensive Motul brand or anything, ATE TYP 200 (formally SuperBlue) works great at $15 per quart. If you are doing two days at the track, bleed them again in the morning of the second day to get any bubbles out. Second tip, as I already stated, track only pads! If you are not towing the car to the track, put them on the car after you get there. If you have never done it before, give it a try at home first. Then if you are still fading the brakes you will know that an upgrade will be worth it, or changing cars considering the price of brake upgrades.
    Also, I liked the post about using the cheapest rotors you can get, within reason. Save you money on all the expensive drilled, slotted, cryo-treated brakes, and just get an extra set of OEM rotors. If you are going through rotors more that every 10 weekends, again, you may need that upgrade.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • gmichaelj: I love the Bugs Bunny Tokio Jokio look of the bottom pics.
  • burgersandbeer: It’s too bad the frat mattress is distracting everyone from the rest of the piece. I thought...
  • thelaine: What were you thinking when you relied on Jerry Brown to define your pollutants?
  • 28-Cars-Later: “The spike accounted for a 3.1 percent increase in tailpipe exhaust from motor vehicles in...
  • JimZ: you miss his point. we haven’t experienced anything on the scale of WWII since, well, WWII. We came...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff