Brakes are often overlooked as a part of a performance car’s list of upgrades. This includes street cars all the way to race cars running on tracks every weekend. Power regularly tops people’s lists of modification priorities, but the performance benefits from brakes are often unknown or minimized without real information to back up this decision. At VR Performance we make an real effort to educate people on the benefits and explain how they can not only reduce braking distances, but provide a level of performance on the track that will be there consistently. As you get more serious about going to the track, having quality brakes, pads and fluid makes a huge difference. Years ago I remember getting a ride in a 911 Cup Car with slicks at a track and I couldn’t believe how hard it could decelerate. It gave me a new appreciation for brakes and safety harness.
Brembo offers a large product line from OEM replacement rotors to motorsport systems on Formula 1 race cars. The area I focused on with the Evo X build is the motorsport level and Brembo’s were at the top of the list. Their racing catalogue has a large range of caliper designs including two piece, monobloc and from 2 to 8 pistons. There is a range of rotor sizes including; diameters, thicknesses and slot styles. After researching the options I was interested in a 6 piston front caliper and 380mm diameter rotor with type 5 slots.
At this point I needed some help, so I contacted Race Technologies in Irvin, CA (and Concord, NC) which we work with. They are the official Brembo S.p.A. distributor in the US focusing on the performance aftermarket and racing industries. Since there wasn’t an existing race system for the Evo X, I anticipated RT needing some performance parameters including vehicle use (road course), vehicle mass and deceleration targets to define the capabilities of the system. Without these inputs it’s very difficult to do the engineering to design a system that will perform properly. Now, with existing Evo X high performance systems like the GT and GT-R, Brembo certainly wasn’t starting from scratch on this car and those systems are remarkable in their own right. They already have the CAD packaging and decades of brake experience that I wanted to take advantage of. Even though an engineer, I’m not a brake engineer and when this project kicked off last year I knew there would be a lot to learn – and there was.
I always thought the Monobloc aluminum calipers were awesome from a design and machining standpoint along with the no nonsense anodized color. Hey, looks count. I suggested a front caliper and the process was officially started including the Race Technologies motorsport group and Brembo Italy where the analysis, approvals and feedback takes place internally between the divisions before coming back to the customer.
Now, here’s a little reality check for newbies running shops like VR Performance. Most people wouldn’t share this, but I think it’s important to do so to explain the back and forth process and show not everything is “off the shelf”. So, after some time had passed I got some feedback from RT stating I could not use the front caliper I was interested in. I thought to myself, what do you mean I can’t use this caliper? I’ve drooled over this thing at SEMA for years. I was really bummed. As it turned out, the specifications of this caliper and the disc were not designed to not handle the levels of thermal energy that a relatively heavy car like the Evo X would generate. This is why when you get into this custom realm you have to have some patience and be open minded, which can be tough. After an explanation over the phone I realized that if I didn’t listen I would be committing myself to weight targets that if not met, would render my original selection potentially incapable of doing what I wanted to do. And that was to brake hard, corner after corner, lap after lap and not worry about surpassing any limits that could only be remedied with do-over money.
So Race Technologies proposed a front caliper that could accommodate a thicker rotor with larger annulus and higher thermal capacity. I used this information to select another caliper and I asked if it would be good and it was. It was a 6 piston monobloc too, but had a removable bridge and internal fluid crossover. Originally I thought, go with the integrated bridge on the assumption it’s stronger and I don’t plan to do any endurance racing where a removable bridge pays off, but it had the internal fluid crossover which was a special design element to me.
For the rear brakes it was pretty straightforward regarding the caliper and rotor. Brembo offers a 4 piston monobloc caliper with integrated bridge and internal crossover. The rotor is a 345mm diameter with type 1 slots that are straight compared to the curve of the type 5 on the front.
Another important recommendation is to integrate a race pedal setup with a balance bar to adjust the balance the brakes front to rear to compensating for the weight distribution and dynamic transfer.
At VR, we enjoy getting into all the details of projects like this and in part 2 of this blog we’ll get into technical details including the installation, wheel clearance and terminology. If you’re interested in a Brembo brake system feel free to call us at (586-991-2455) or email at (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss your vehicle project and get a quote on Brembo brake systems for any level.