What are the best brakes for track days?

Want to know which brakes are the best for racing? The question is are they for a track day or for full-blown racing?

If you find yourself confused and requiring quite different brake set-ups for racing then don’t worry. We’ll explain the basics quickly for you.

Do I need a big brake kit?

For full race use: certainly! For a track day outing: maybe.

If you can afford it, do it. But before you choose, look for a kit that is balanced. Simply putting a massive disc on the front end of your car without checking rear brake balance is a waste of money and can worsen the brake balance of your car, so choose carefully. One great and economic solution is the EBC Brakes Racing Balanced Big Brake Kit. This kit includes brakes for both the front and rear of your vehicle and costs less than many “front-end only” kits.

Balanced Big Brake Kit

Do I need to change my pads?

Most definitely. Street pads will never deliver decent braking on track days and certainly won’t deliver for full race use.

Track day pads are built to have road manners but good high-end temperature performance. As a result, you can drive to and from the circuit without having to change pads and enjoy one or two dozen laps at the track.

Two great choices are EBC Yellowstuff for lighter cars and shorter races, or EBC Bluestuff for heavier cars. When at the track, check your pads for wear every 5-10 laps. Road cars with carosserie, lights and a spare wheel for example are far heavier than race cars and often street calipers may not be up to racing.

Calipers get sticky after miles of road use; corrosion sets in and pads don’t float and release as well as a race caliper. Seals can also harden. As an example, when we carry out performance testing on our dynos, we change the caliper seals weekly as drag develops.

If you intend to push the limits or step up to race-style driving, EBC Brakes now have a great top-end solution with our RP-1 full race compound. Please note these are not legal for street use in Europe.

RP-1 Pads

What about my brake hoses?

All production cars have rubber hoses, and these will need changing for track days and racing. Rubber hoses can balloon and swell, giving a soft pedal. In extreme uses – where temperatures go higher than even hard street use – lengths of pedal travel are considered unacceptable.

Hoses are not expensive and changing them takes only an hour or so. If you’re capable you can do this yourself but remember that the job must be done properly, and the system bled after installation to remove all air.

Braided Brake Lines

How about my brake fluid for track use?

Considering that fluid needs changing every two years anyway (which many street drivers don’t do) now is the time to flush through old fluid and replace it with a new higher temperature stable fluid.

Make sure you spec the correct fluids – all cars use GLYCOL fluids in grades 3/4/5 but when seeing the DOT 5 on the can, don’t be misled. There is DOT 5 glycol base and DOT 5 silicone and mixing the two is dangerous. It’s better to go for a DOT 4 upgraded fluid such as EBC BF-307 which has a wet boiling point over 300 degrees.

Brake fluid

Rotor condition – do I need new ones?

Rotors must be flat and smooth for two reasons. Firstly, if the rotors are scored or worn badly then new pads will take an age to bed in. You don’t want to be doing this at a track and lose your brakes.

A great solution is to have your rotors Pro-Cut skimmed, which takes a light skim off the rotors whilst on the car. This has to be done on the car and a Pro-Cut lathe is the only way – EBC have several at their Northampton HQ and can do this at a nominal charge. If you’re in the US then Pro-Cut can help you. You can locate a Pro-Cut Centre near you here. Most Pep Boys in the USA use these machines.

If you prefer to fit new rotors be aware that they need to settle down first. A combination of new pads and new rotors takes longer to bed in due to possible chassis misalignments (which a Pro-Cut skim totally cures).

Look for full contact across the width of the rotor face. New pads will contact new rotors at the outside edges first and the contact patch will gradually extend inwards. You need 90% contact to be ready to load those brakes and then the pad bedding must be done. Bring the pads up to temperature and allow cooling according to our recommendations.

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