The Continuing Saga of a RaceTrack Wannabe

That’s right. I don’t post anything for months, and now you get a couple in a couple of days.

So, brakes.

I mentioned briefly in my thoughts from Novice Day that my brakes went away by the end of the day. Well, it was actually worse than that. I lost brakes entirely on my 3rd last lap, going into Turn 6 at 170km/h: Pedal went to the floor. I’d already lifted, so was bleeding speed anyway, pumped the pedal a couple of times and got some pressure into the system, downshifted to let the engine do some of the work, and cranked the wheel over to let the tires scrub some speed, and all was well: My instructor admonished me for diving too deep into the corner and running wide and off line, I told him that it was a brakes issue. I ran the next few laps slower, just working on my line and smoothness, and pointing people by as I needed to (including the 370z I’d eaten up about three laps earlier, dammit!).

I got a look at the rotors after the session ended, and this is what I saw:

FLICKR – wheel – rotor

Not good. Tough to tell without closer inspection, but the pads were looking a little light, too.

Get on the road home, and I popped an (unrelated) engine code: P0133. Pretty sure that was just the engine reacting to the high flow catalytic converter and suddenly not running wide open, as I had been on the track for the best part of two hours. I cleared that, and no issues the rest of the way home (70km).

When I got into town, however, and off the highway, I ran into some issues.

At about Bank / Walkley, the car felt really sluggish. I had to give it more gas to make it go anywhere, and acceleration was seriously lackluster. If I took my foot off the gas, it came to a halt almost immediately.

Of course, this is when a good officer of the law arrived on my bumper, in traffic.

Because OF COURSE.

So, I’m gunning the hell out of the engine to make the car go anywhere (I’ve already got an idea where the issue is) and figure, well, I might as well set up my defense. Put my four-ways on, and hope for the best. I’m less than 2km from home at this point, so I’m going to try to limp it there, unless I’m told not to. Turn onto the primary run into my neighbourhood… and the officer follows me in. Again, I figure I might as well get ahead of the curve, and pull to the side of the road in front of the Dodge dealership. At which point, the cop pulls right past me!

Seriously?

I’m now not worried about getting a ticket, but mildly irritated that, despite my four ways, the cop didn’t stop to check on me. Sorry guys. Sometimes you just can’t win.

Nothing is visibly stuck, so after a few minutes, I get back on my way. Still really sluggish though. I get home, and the same thing: the car is stopping very quickly when it’s not under power, of its own accord. I back it into the garage, and leave it there for the night.

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Sunday afternoon rolls around, and it’s time to check things out. The good news: all the bolts on the brakes came loose with some pressure: nothing seized.

The bad news. This list is longer.

First, the front rotors are, as I thought, screwed. With them off, they’re both splotchy/white, with some flaking of the edges that isn’t rust, and they’re so deeply grooved that you could climb them. Or at least play “Darkside of the Moon” if you’ve got a record player kicking around. They are ROUGH. See for yourself:

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Second, the front pads. Also totally fucked. Outboard was down to a sliver of material left. The pad itself has been baked to the point at which it’s also flaking apart. The inboard pad isn’t as badly worn, but it’s really unevenly worn. Looks like it stuck in the bracket and stopped retracting/loosening off when I got off the brakes. Basically, about 1/4″ more wear on one end of the pad than the other.

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Third, the front caliper sliders were completely stuck: all the lubricant had burnt off. That’s an easy fix, but contributed to the above issues, I’m sure. All the lubricant around the areas the pads touch the brackets? Yeah, that’s gone too. Again, easy fix, but the pads are dead.

Fourth, I don’t know if the front calipers are still ok. I’ve pushed the pistons back in, so they do move. Only way to find out will be to get fresh rotors and pads in there and see what happens.

So, what’s the plan from here?

Given how my brake knowledge has grown in the last 72 hours, there’s a couple of things. First, the rear brakes (same brand rotors – R1 Concepts, and same brand pads – Frixa) that I installed new on Friday night are FINE. No scoring, no over-wearing, no sticking. It might be worth disassembling them and re-lubicating to make sure everything is moving post-track-heat, but otherwise, they’re fine. What I hit the track with on the front of the car, though, had 60,000km over four years, on them, and two winters of driving in Ottawa’s snow and salt. There is (I’m told) a finite shelf-life for brakes, even if there’s material left: I didn’t know that. So, old, well-used components, stressed to the maximum on the track? It should surprise no one that they fought the good fight, and finally, lost. Everything I’ve read, and been told, says that no, the expectation is not that you will be going through a set of pads and rotors per track day. I hit a perfect storm of abuse and existing wear. On top of that, as I mentioned, I have the base OEM brake set up. It’s good, but it’s not, I don’t think, race track good. Especially not with 60,000km of wear already on the components. But, it’s taught me an awful lot about things to look for, and things to keep up with in terms of preventative maintenance. And I think, whatever brake set up I end up with in the future, I’ll make sure I’ve got spare pads and rotors on hand in case I do need them.

Well, I’m doing Tail of the Dragon with GenSport United in late September. So, I’ve gotta have decent brakes on for that. In the short term, i MIGHT have access to a set of OEM’s that someone isn’t using. If I get really lucky, they’ll get up here from Oshawa before Thursday, and I can drive the ‘coupe to the cottage this weekend. If not, then I’ll be ordering new, OEM-base replacemnts (probably EBC rotors and pads) to get me through the end of summer and fall.

After that, I’m seriously considering a BBK. It sounds like there may be a semi-local option for me. I may also have a line on an affordable OEM Brembo swap with Stoptech rotors and pads. Failing all that, the R1Concepts forged series BBK looks like it has potential as well.

As I said in the original post, I learned a lot this last weekend, not just about being on a track, but about myself, my car, and all the things that go into being SAFE on the road, and on the track.

Good times.

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3 Responses to The Continuing Saga of a RaceTrack Wannabe

  1. Pingback: Track Day, Bro. | Life, the Universe, and Everything

  2. Pingback: And the Saga of the Brakes Continues | Life, the Universe, and Everything

  3. Pingback: Slouching Onwards to Automotive… Somthing or other. | Life, the Universe, and Everything

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