When attending Track Night in America, there are a handful of things to keep an eye out for – all on the tech sheet that you need to present to get on track.
But have you thought about things that need to be done before, or after?
Our friends at Hawk Performance, the official Brake Product of SCCA and the July Featured Partner at Track Night in America, have a few tips for keeping an eye on your brakes.
Edwin Mangune, Hawk’s Motorsports Field Manager, gives us a few helpful hints.
- Keep an eye on your pads.
“Brake pads for street use should be replaced when the nominal pad material is worn down to 25 percent,” Magune said. “For race use, it should be replaced when it is worn down to 50 percent.”
Keep in mind, the race use is just that – racing. But if you’re not sure before you head to Track Night, consider replacing the pad.
- Pay attention to driver aids like traction and stability control.
“On late model cars, don’t forget to turn off your stability and traction control,” Mangune said. “People will call me and say ‘I just installed your brakes and rotors, and went out to your first event, and it was great but I toasted my rear brakes.’
“The first question I ask is, did you turn off your stability control? I’m guilty of it, too. Stability control does help, and makes it nicer, but you can feel it when you’re really pushing it. But it’s nice to go back to the basics, turn everything off, and just drive.”
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use stability controls. Just realize that, as you push harder, the job of those aids are to keep you from sliding. How do they do that? By cutting power an applying more brakes. As you advance, turning off the driver aids may actually help you!
- It’s not all pads and rotors.
“What’s really important is brake fluid,” Mangue said. “It’s hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs moisture. Water is the enemy to the brake system, because it lowers the boiling point of the brake fluid and creates contaminates, which will ultimately cause the brake system to fail. The brake fluid should be flushed and completely replaced every two years. If your car is a 2012 and you’re going to take it to a track day with new Hawk pads, replace the fluid.”
- Upgrades from your original equipment brakes will most definitely help.
“For over 10 or 20 years now, the OE’s have been building bigger, heavier cars with more horsepower,” Mangune said. “The brake system is essentially the same. The technology is still the same. Rotor size is still the same. They’re still using four-piston calipers. They’re really taxing and putting a bigger burden on the OE brake system.
“As an enthusiast, I can feel that, just from driving earlier production cars and evolving to the later models. That’s where Hawk pads, or a motorsport pad, comes in. We can replace it with a premium street performance brake pad like HPS, HPS 5.0, or performance ceramic and improve the stopping power by improving the brake torque in the overall range, increasing temperature range, so that during spirited driving use, the driver won’t experience heat fade, and still get good wear and low dust and no noise.”