If you’re new to the sprint car racing scene, chances are you might be focused on the “big things” like the engine’s torque, horsepower, and speed— all the things that make your car go fast. But what about safety?
The most important safety mechanism on your vehicle, the brake system, keeps you in control of the car. However, brakes are often overlooked and taken for granted until they show signs of damage.
Veterans of the sprint car scene will tell you that ignoring the warning of impending brake failures until the system no longer functions properly is the perfect recipe for disaster.
Keeping your braking system functioning at its peak performance is important. After all, brake components aren’t the most difficult components in your car to replace. So, when the time comes to upgrade brake parts, you shouldn’t hesitate. Here’s how to know if your sprint car’s brake system needs an upgrade or modification:
- You Increased Your Car’s Top Speed
If you have recently increased your sprint car’s top speed, make sure you also increase its braking power. One way to increase your car’s braking power is by installing large rotors. According to Grassroots Motorsports, “a 10-percent increase in vehicle speed equals a 21-percent rise in kinetic energy since we’re dealing with the square of the speed. If you’ve souped up your car to reach higher speeds than originally designed, its stock brakes often won’t cut it anymore. Big rotors might be required.”
- You Upgraded Another Part of the Brake System
Another scenario when your brakes will need an upgrade is when you upgrade any other part of the brake system. For instance, when you install large calipers. Furthermore, upgrades involving additional components often demand extra fluid volume from the master cylinder.
The master cylinder converts mechanical force to hydraulic pressure. Hence, choosing the right master cylinder requires you to consider various factors like bore, input forcer, stroke, output volume, and output pressure. For instance, an increase in bore diameter will result in decreased output pressure for the same input force. Also, a large master cylinder will result in a firmer pedal.
When changing anything within your brake system, you have to keep in mind how it will impact fluid volume and if you’ll need to upgrade your master cylinder to accommodate that change.
- Your Brakes Are Overheating
Overheating brakes are just another common effect of driving at fast speeds, the primary cause of which is friction. As the working principle of the braking system is based on friction, an aggressive driving style can lead to an increase in the temperature of the brake discs.
When the disc temperature reaches critical value due to brakes overheating, it results in the brake pad slipping on the disc, which reduces the efficiency of the brake system. The most common signs your car’s brakes are overheating include squealing sounds, smoking brakes, and brake fade.
A few proven ways to prevent your car’s brakes from overheating are upgrading the rotor size, removing dust shields found behind rotors, and adding cooling ducts or cross-drilled rotors.
- Your Brake Pads Are Wearing Out Fast
There’s a difference between sprint car and streetcar braking systems. Typically, cars with standard engines feature original equipment manufacturer (OEM) brakes for performing routine tasks like your everyday work commute. Hence, when you subject your street car to stresses beyond what’s ordinary, like a track environment, it overwhelms the OEM brakes and wears out brake pads fast. This means you will have to replace the brake pads frequently.
One way around this issue is to upgrade your brake system using race pads made from different materials than OEM pads. Brake pads made from fully metallic components like sintered metal, especially steel, are devoid of synthetic materials. These brake pads last longer are fade-resistant, making them ideal for racing applications.
A System of Complementary Components
It is imperative to remember that brakes are a system, and the numbers need to add up correctly for everything to function efficiently. To put it simply, all the components of the braking system must complement each other and work together in harmony. So, it’s never a good idea to ignore the signs of damage or depletion, no matter how small it may seem.