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Brake Pad/Rotor Upgrade for track days

6
4
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
Rhode Island
So I have been researching a good upgrade for my 2009 Mustang GT’s brakes. I just completed my first track day a couple weeks ago. The car has stock brake pads, rotors, and calipers. I‘m trying to figure out what my best option would be. The car is driven on the street and to/from track day events. So I’m looking for something that will perform well on the street but also give me a significant increase in performance on the track. I need a good balance between the two, leaning a little more towards the performance for the track. Any suggestions?
 

Mad Hatter

Gotta go Faster
4,783
3,602
Santiago, Chile
I liked the original Brembo brakes that came with my boss. The pads are not expensive (tiny) and they do a good job at stopping the car. After about 125 mph they can get overworked at the track. The S550 15" brembo upgrade is one of my favorite upgrades but you do get a softer pedal, but if they are combined with race pads, it actually works out well.

The 15" Brembos do limit you to wheels like APEX if you want to go to 18"
track setup.
 
6
4
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
Rhode Island
Ill keep that in mind when I’m ready to change the calipers. Right now I’m just looking to switch up the pads and rotors. I plan on doing one of more track day this year and I don‘t have much left of the stock stuff. Hoping to be able to do more next year.
 

Mad Hatter

Gotta go Faster
4,783
3,602
Santiago, Chile
To be honest, lots have tried. Several cars I know started out with stock gt brakes and went through all kinds of rotor/pad combos looking for solutions... None of them worked for more then 3 or 4 laps at anything above 7/10ths.

Something like this will have you stopping with the best.

If you can find a set of the 14" brembo calipers, that should be cheaper and they do a great job.

1655490022042.png
 
Last edited:

Mad Hatter

Gotta go Faster
4,783
3,602
Santiago, Chile
Sorry! That list was from LMR.com.... made a mistake in the calipers and retaining clips but edited the list. Can't remember which brake line to use.

1655489870898.png
 
38
33
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
Fort Worth
Are your rotors still in good shape? You might want to try going with a moderate track pad from Carbotech or Gloc. Start with something like a Carbotech XP10 in the front and XP8 in the back and adjust as you need get more experience. I love my S550 Brembos but I was fine running for the first year with the stock calipers, cheap rotors, decent pads and good brake fluid. The key thing on the rotors is to avoid drilled rotors (they crack). OPMustang has a good assortment of pads and parts and have been great to work with (and they are a sponsor).

Big brakes will definitely last longer, run cooler and stop better. If you do pull the trigger on the LMR kit above, spring for some stainless steel brake lines. Your existing lines won't work (or at least mine didn't). Ducting and cooling make a big difference too.
 
6
4
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
Under 3 Years
Rhode Island
Are your rotors still in good shape? You might want to try going with a moderate track pad from Carbotech or Gloc. Start with something like a Carbotech XP10 in the front and XP8 in the back and adjust as you need get more experience. I love my S550 Brembos but I was fine running for the first year with the stock calipers, cheap rotors, decent pads and good brake fluid. The key thing on the rotors is to avoid drilled rotors (they crack). OPMustang has a good assortment of pads and parts and have been great to work with (and they are a sponsor).

Big brakes will definitely last longer, run cooler and stop better. If you do pull the trigger on the LMR kit above, spring for some stainless steel brake lines. Your existing lines won't work (or at least mine didn't). Ducting and cooling make a big difference too.
So I ended up buying a set of power stop z26 brake pads and drilled and slotted rotors for now. I have used power stops on my truck and like them for the street. I needed something to get the car back on the road. I didn’t have much pad left prior to my track day so I used up what was there. I appreciate the tips for going forward. As far as cheap rotors go what were you using and were they slotted or just solid.
 
5,613
6,697
Exp. Type
W2W Racing
Exp. Level
20+ Years
Pleasanton: 1/2 way between Sonoma and Laguna Seca
So I ended up buying a set of power stop z26 brake pads and drilled and slotted rotors for now. I have used power stops on my truck and like them for the street. I needed something to get the car back on the road. I didn’t have much pad left prior to my track day so I used up what was there. I appreciate the tips for going forward. As far as cheap rotors go what were you using and were they slotted or just solid.
Slotted, never drilled.
 
1,240
1,030
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
Philly Metro Area
When I first tracked my car I used the PowerStop Z26 pads (with 14" rotors and 4-piston Brembos) and they worked ok for the first 2-3 times. But as I got faster they cracked and spalled.

Then I upgraded to their Track Day pads and they had awesome bite and were noticeably better. And noticeably dirtier. Lol. I used them for about 2 more seasons but after my cam/manifold upgrades and faster top speeds they would squeal like a banshee at the end of a long straight. Still worked fine and no cracks but squealed.

They should be fine on your 2009.

I upgraded to G-Loc R12s but they didn't have as good as a bite as the Track Day Pads. I then upgraded to R16s and love them.

I think the PowerStop Track Day Pads are a little harder on the rotors too.

For rotors I use the StopTech slotted rotors. They are essentially Centric Premium (high carbon) rotors with slots. Either one will be fine for you.

I've never used them but I've heard good things about KNS Brakes has house brand rotors that are DBA rotors without slots. I'm not sure if they have them for the smaller size rotors for sliding caliper brakes but they definitely have the 14" rotors used with the 4-piston Brembos.

Use plain or slotted. Never drilled.

BTW, I use the G-LOC GS1 pads for the street in order to be compatible with the R16 pads but I hate their lack of bite. When they're worn out I will go back to the Z26 pad for the street.

I've been told that pad compatibility is overblown. I'll find out for myself. I'm hoping that the R16 pads are aggressive enough to clean off the old pad material during my 1.5 hr drive to the track.
 

Bill Pemberton

0ld Ford Automotive Racing Terror
6,994
6,121
Exp. Type
Time Attack
Exp. Level
20+ Years
Blair, Nebraska
Since you are just looking at a few events check out some of the Sponsors on this site and frankly before you spend money on new calipers and more, get some seat time in your car with a good set or pads ( G-Loc R12s in front 8 or 10s in the rear, some EBC Blues or new RB1s, etc. ). Frankly a set of slotted ( no drilled ones as Fabman noted ) a good set of brake pads , a good DOT4 fluid , and brake cooling ( key ) will work well as you learn your car. Vorshlag makes a brake deflector set for the front rotors/calipers that many are having good luck with if you do not want to initially put in a full brake ducting kit and keeping the existing rotors, pads and calipers cooler is a big key. We seem to send folks right to bigger calipers and brakes when the stock systems are better than many vehicles had just 10-15 years ago -- and those worked pretty darn good. Also pad compatibility can be an issue and in fact most who track a lot will tell you to clean the rotors even when using the same pad manufacturer.

You have great sources here with Sponsors EBC, KNS Brakes , etc.
 
1,240
1,030
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
Philly Metro Area
Bill, I don't think spending a lot of money on G-LOC or EBC brakes for the 1 or 2 track days is worthwhile. If he expects to upgrade calipers next year then much of the money spent on such pads will be wasted.

His stock 4.6 will be fine with PowerStop Track Day pads for MUCH less money. And they're compatible with the Z26 street pads he just bought. He might be able to get away with the Z26 pads for a few track days if he had the 13.2" rotors like I originally had. But a 2009 GT has 12.4" front rotors and I think that would be pushing it depending on the track and speed.

The Z26 pads will be fine on his rear brakes while he's learning. They make PowerStop Track Day pads for the rear but with his smaller rotors in the front I think they would introduce too much rear bias.

I'm all for supporting our sponsors but for a beginner in transition spending the extra money may not be necessary.

Of course, I agree with the DOT 4 (high temp) and cooling.
 

Bill Pemberton

0ld Ford Automotive Racing Terror
6,994
6,121
Exp. Type
Time Attack
Exp. Level
20+ Years
Blair, Nebraska
My concern over the years is telling folks to just use a fairly good pad when I have no idea what tracks they will run, what their level of experience or aggression is, or how much cooling the system will get from either a stock ducting or a bit more advanced. I find the most common upgrades for track experiences are horsepower improvement , suspension , seats, etc. with brake pads and fluid often down the list. The amazing thing to me is the number one thing advised by almost all Racing/Driving Schools is using a very high quality brake pad ( and I recommend track pads ) and DOT 4 fluids. Yet often I see folks ( when Instructing ) come to the track with new helmets, even tires and wheels, but they argue about not needing anything more than DOT 3 pads and some folks on a Forum told them their pads were fine. My concern is the extreme differences in aggression and experience even for new drivers, so the problem with making an assumption a stock pad or street pad is okay, is a really quick new driver finds himself boiling the brakes. So , I always recommend spending the money for better pads and fluid, because other than a helmet and other safety equipment this is the upgrade that will keep more folks out of the danger zone, imho.
 
1,240
1,030
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
Philly Metro Area
The PowerStop Track Day pad is a very good track pad. It is definitely not a street pad. Is it up to the level of R16? No, but it is in my experience better than the R12. It stopped better, never faded. I realize that some of that is subjective with respect to how much initial bite some like versus others.

As I indicated, I don't think the Z26 street pad is a good idea for the front. But I do think it will work on his rear brakes for the bias reasons I mentioned. An R8 in the back MAY work proportion-wise but I think an R10 will be too much because of the small rotor in the front.

The OP also seems to be looking for a pad that will work on both the street and track. There's really no such animal. MAYBE a Ferodo would work but I don't think they make pads for his setup.

Swapping the front pads between street & track is a definite. Once he updates his front calipers to either the bigger 13.2" rotors and calipers or preferably to the 14" or 15" Brembos then he should also swap rear pads between street and track.
 

Bill Pemberton

0ld Ford Automotive Racing Terror
6,994
6,121
Exp. Type
Time Attack
Exp. Level
20+ Years
Blair, Nebraska
As noted I always suggest more than may be needed and I don't think an R10 is ever really enough for set ups, I always suggest everyone start with a R12, but as noted so much depends on the tracks run, and I think many fail to ask that when suggesting pads. OP should likely check with EBC or KNS as they can go over those many questions and since we are both suggesting a race pad the direction is going in the right direction for the driver in question.
 
I'll also note that swapping pads between street and track can leave you with some nasty deposits on the rotors that'll cause a lot of judder, depending on the specific compounds in play. Then you end up having to bed-in the pads each time you switch. Not the end of the world, but something the OP should be aware of.
 
55
90
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
Nova Scotia
So, I started by running the stock pads and 2 piston rotors, and while that may take someone through a school event or a lazy track day, I killed them in a day, as I completely expected.I run a set of 275 wide Conti ExtremeContact Sport tires - relevant as braking and traction work together.

Next I went to a set of Hawk DTC 60 pads, because they were given to me by someone. They worked great on track. Our track can usually kill a set of pads in a few days, and these got me about 2 days of track use, some street driving and 4 autoslalom events. The dust was horrible, and they leave lots of corroded dust on the wheels (enough to throw the wheels vigorously out of balance if they get wet before you meticulously clean them). But, they did work fine, and I just swapped between the track pads and the NAPA junk before/after events, and bled the brakes each time. Fluid (Ford LV Dot4) showed some heat effect, but I never had any soft pedal or fade until the very end of the pads life when there was just too little friction material on the pads left to deal with the heat. I wouldn't buy another set for my car, but I would take them for free. They let me push the car hard and never worry about braking performance.

So, quality high temp capable pads and stock 2 piston calipers/rotors can work for drivers that only run a couple events a year. Caveats exist though - I would not recommended with sticky rubber, really wide rubber, or for someone working to reduce their lap times. I would recommend for a casual track driver who wants to take a couple school days a year and wants to improve their consistency, isn't interested in peak performance, and isn't ready to upgrade calipers etc.

All that said, I'm about to upgrade to a set of 6 piston units (I'll be rebuilding them) from a friend's S550 that he is swapping out for new units. Also going to upgrade to a better fluid like Motul 660 etc.
 
38
78
Exp. Type
W2W Racing
Exp. Level
20+ Years
SoCal
Regarding brake fluid - I ran ATE SuperBlue in my CMC car for approximately ~8+ years. This was on a ~3175lb car (with driver, as it came off track, so heavier at the start of a race), initially using SN95 Cobra brakes (first 12" rotors w/2p PBRs, then 13" rotors w/2p PBRs), then moving to a proper race-brake setup (StopTech 13" floating rotors and 4p calipers), all with brake ducting in place.

Once I moved to ATE, I never had an issue with boiling brake fluid, unlike some of my competitors. I raced some very brake intensive tracks across the US (TWS, BMP, RoadATL, Mid-O, LSIR, and many others). I can recall driving various competitors deeper and deeper into braking sections, and eventually they'd have to concede as they'd have an issue. Many used Motul, and the Motorcraft DOT3, and had fluid issues - they would have to bleed their brakes over the course of a race weekend, sometimes, more than once.

ATE does not offer the SuperBlue here in the US any longer due to a rather silly DOT requirement for amber or clear fluid only, but their "Gold" is the same formulation. I would race an entire season, and not have to bleed the brakes unless I opened up the system. Prior to the start of a new season, I would R&R all 5 brake lines, then flush the entire system. When I was in TX, I had a shop-based track test the fluid for moisture a few times a year, and it always tested clean.

A 1L can runs right around ~$20, usually less.

Granted, my CMC car was ~700-800 pounds lighter than an S197 or S550, so that is a consideration.

As my Boss continues to see more track usage, it will get ATE on it's next fluid replacement.
 
168
36
The ATE 200 is great fluid.I actually use in all my cars and never boiled the fluid.
It's reasonably priced too.
 

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