Per Schroeder
Per Schroeder PowerDork
8/31/20 8:59 a.m.

Going skydiving? You’ll need a parachute. After all, it should make leaping from that airplane a bit more survivable.

Of course, not all parachutes are the same, and there’s more to them than different colors. Parachutes come in a variety of airfoil shapes and sizes, each one suited to a particular jumper and situation. While they’re all designed to serve the same basic purpose, there are subtle differences in the huge range of offerings. 

You can think of brake pads in a similar way. Although there are countless varieties of pads available today, they all do the same thing: create friction to slow a car. Of course, the faster you go on track, the more important it becomes to have adequate stopping power. 

High-performance brake pads are a crucial component for a car that sees open track time or race use. Not only are these top-tier pads more resistant to fade, but they can also have a higher coefficient of friction for quicker stops. Of course, that improved pad friction will only help if the tires are good enough to take advantage of the increased brake torque.

But what about autocross use? Are high-performance pads an advantage when battling the cones? While the brakes usually don’t get smoking hot during a 60-second autocross run, they can still see elevated temperatures, especially if there’s a co-driver adding a second dose of abuse. 

More importantly, most of us autocross on sticker-than-stock tires. Can increases in brake pad performance help those grippy tires yield faster times?

To compare these theories against the stopwatch, we pressed our 2010 Mazda MX-5 project car back into service. To see how brake pads impact autocross performance, we tested four different brake compounds: the OE Mazda pad, the street-performance Hawk HPS, the track-worthy Hawk HP Plus and the race-ready Hawk DTC-60. 

Our Mazda’s KW coil-over suspension and fat Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec tires make it a great platform for evaluating brake pads. The car is easy to drive, and we’ve found the Dunlops to be very consistent throughout the day and over a wide range of temperatures. 

Tire Rack’s John Rogers and Chris Harvey served as our test pilots for this exercise. They’ve logged thousands of laps on Tire Rack’s own test course—which would again serve as our test lab—and have a considerable amount of seat time in the MX-5 project. A Race Technology DL1 data logger handled the data acquisition for the track work, while a Vericom VC2000 recorded the 60-to-zero stopping distances. 

We tested each of the four pad compounds on a separate set of brand-new Centric rotors. By testing each pad with fresh rotors, we eliminated the possibility of contamination between samples. 

Each set of pads was bedded in using the manufacturer’s recommended procedure. This included several stops from speed plus an appropriate cooldown period between sessions. The pads and rotors were then removed from the car and set aside until our day of testing.

We started with the stock Mazda pads and then, in order, went on to the HPS, HP Plus and DTC-60 compounds. We finished off the day by retesting the original pads; this is a great way to make sure the surface and conditions have remained consistent. 

Each set of pads also went through the same test sequence, starting with four two-lap runs. Immediately after logging those laps, we did five 60-to-zero stops on a section of level asphalt. 

Read the rest of the story

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/31/20 9:27 a.m.

I'm no racer, but one of our more consistent local winners uses the cheapest organic pads he can find for his Camaro in the cones.  When he hauls it to a stop at the end, you can see puffs of orange flames coming off the clouds of dust from the pads.  His rationale is that the short runs don't get them hot enough to be an issue, and (since he drives it on the street) the organic pads don't shred the rotors.  Any glazing he gets during the few runs he does are easily scrubbed away on the trip home and he's left with normal street braking again.

That's just an anecdote from one racer, but that was his story and he's sticking to it.

Tom1200 Dork
8/31/20 11:38 a.m.

I use craptastical ordinary pads I the Datsun I road race. Note I have Z car brakes on a 1600lb car so heat isn't an issue. I'm also not giving up and performance to people using high end race pads. When I raced a showroom stock Miata I tried both the Hawk Pads and the stock Mazda pads and found the same thing the test did, the Hawk pads had better feel but the more aggressive pad also went through rotors faster. I went to the stock pads for this reason.  Basically I don't think there is a wrong answer here. 

nderwater UltimaDork
8/31/20 12:08 p.m.

Oh hi, Per Schroeder.

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/31/20 12:48 p.m.

Very interesting. I have tried quite a few pads on the FiST and found much of the same to be true. Track pads worked great on the track, but for autocross they were lightswitches with no modulation at all. Some national-level folks actually prefer the OEM pads from Ford, but even at that, there are two different part #s available based on year and one is better than the other.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/31/20 1:20 p.m.

My WAG is grippier pads would only be a benefit with equally grippy tires. Otherwise, you are just trying to not lock up or engage the ABS as much?

And I'm also surprised to see a post by Per?

Strizzo PowerDork
8/31/20 2:01 p.m.

I'm with Curtis on this one, although the camaro with race brakes that runs locally does look cool in pictures with the glowing rotors on course.

Mezzanine Dork
8/31/20 2:49 p.m.

Per? Are you ...back? Like for real? 

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
8/31/20 2:55 p.m.

I prefer R4S versus R4E for autocrossing, but once you get to higher speeds and longer runs when temperatures can be reached and held, my preference shifts to R4E. 

bobzilla MegaDork
8/31/20 3:39 p.m.
Mezzanine said:

Per? Are you ...back? Like for real? 

Holy crap I didn't even catch that. 

Stefan (Forum Supporter)
Stefan (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/31/20 4:05 p.m.
Mezzanine said:

Per? Are you ...back? Like for real? 

The article is from the February 2011 issue, they posted it under his name since he wrote it.

So no, he's not back, but he has been known to lurk here.

Marjorie Suddard
Marjorie Suddard General Manager
8/31/20 4:36 p.m.
Stefan (Forum Supporter) said:
Mezzanine said:

Per? Are you ...back? Like for real? 

The article is from the February 2011 issue, they posted it under his name since he wrote it.

So no, he's not back, but he has been known to lurk here.

Correct. But if you're in the market for Porsche parts, Per has been at Stoddard Porsche outside Cleveland ever since he and Kim moved back north with their kiddos. Give him/them a call!


KyAllroad (Jeremy) (Forum Supporter)
KyAllroad (Jeremy) (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
8/31/20 5:20 p.m.

As someone who has autocrossed a prepped NC Miata I can absolutely confirm that better brakes make you faster.  The first time I drove my (now former) car I blew through the outside of a few corners.  The car simply didn't have the bite in the pads to slow down.  So I had to adjust and brake earlier.

If I'm braking earlier, I'm off the gas and not going as fast as I theoretically could be.

So when I bought the car it for high end rotors and HPS 5.0 pads which were VASTLY better than the OEM pads it had come with.  (This was even more noticeable when I went to Hoosiers, even the Hawk pads weren't enough to get into ABS then.)

9/1/20 10:34 a.m.


NickD UltimaDork
9/1/20 10:45 a.m.

A guy who used to kick ass locally in a B/Street AP1 S2000 was not only running stock brakes, they were the original pads that had left the factory with the car 75,000 miles earlier. I would take that as BS, but the guy was not the type to tell tall tales.

bobzilla MegaDork
9/1/20 12:43 p.m.

I like the feel of HPS/R4S for autox. Sure, they may not physically stop faster, but the feel is different. Since most of what we do is by feel (where's that maximum grip without push, when can I get the back on the throttle without oversteer etc) that can make the difference. 

Just my non-professional, 12 year experience. I've run Tubey stock pads, stock upgraded pads/rotors (size) and blues. The stock pads just feel.... lack luster after having good pads on it. 

jaball77 New Reader
3/9/21 1:43 p.m.

In reply to KyAllroad (Jeremy) (Forum Supporter) :

Interesting, I had the opposite experience in my 2006 Sport that I prepped for STR.  I never felt the need to upgrade the pads.  They had great bite and the ABS programming seemed right on for my driving style.  I definitely had to stand on the pedal but I always got what I needed in terms of bite and braking.

Shaun GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/9/21 8:27 p.m.

On a Honda 96 Civic 3 door with 99-00 civic Si brakes all around the HP+ did not want to stop the car first time around on freezing ish mornings or after awhile without using the brakes if it was that cold.  Its was pretty spooky a couple times...  The HPS that went on next would work fine when freezing-  Which seems about right in line with what Hawk describes as the general use scenario for the respective pads at the bottom side of the heat zone.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/9/21 10:03 p.m.

I run Hawk HP+ for stage rally, but find that when i rallycross the first several braking zones on course I have no bite to speak of until they warm up. I usually will drag the brakes from grid to start to try to get some heat in them, but even that doesn't work well. Now I switch back to HPS for rallycross. 

bobzilla MegaDork
3/10/21 7:57 a.m.

I admit to running Hawk BLues on the Tib through winter. I know, I am a terrible and lazy person. but down to freezing temps they were fine. below freezing the first stop wasn't as crisp, but after the first one they worked. Sure, there's rotor wear but that is expected IMO on a pad this aggressive.

Vajingo HalfDork
3/10/21 9:32 a.m.

I'm another oem nc pad user for STR. I've not seen the "need to bleed the speed" on course, and where the oem pads fail it. In fact, for autocross, I can only see upgrading brakes so you don't blow the stop box (I've seen many do this locally, but my nc does fine.)

ojannen Reader
3/10/21 10:05 a.m.

I bought my last dedicatd autocross car from a hard parker.  The owner managed to find a set of brake pads that faded after three autocross 55-25mph brake zones.  As I got faster, I started getting random soft pedals that I couldn't figure out.  I spent a bunch of time chasing down bubbles and brake fluid compounds.  Someone finally suggested a different pad and it solved all my problems.

Apexcarver UltimaDork
3/10/21 10:13 a.m.

Unless you have awful parts that just arent up to the task, its all more about feel and driver comfort, especially on an ABS car. 

As an aside, one of the most prevalent mistakes I see in newer and even medium experience autocrossers is being so aggressive on the brakes they totally screw up their corner entry (which totally screws the whole corner). Less touchy brakes, even if you get less raw stopping power from them, may actually be advantageous to prevent this. 

ProDarwin MegaDork
3/10/21 10:49 a.m.
irish44j (Forum Supporter) said:

I run Hawk HP+ for stage rally, but find that when i rallycross the first several braking zones on course I have no bite to speak of until they warm up. I usually will drag the brakes from grid to start to try to get some heat in them, but even that doesn't work well. Now I switch back to HPS for rallycross. 

Interesting.  According to Hawk, the HP+ has more friction than HPS at all temperatures:

Our Preferred Partners