Team O’Neil explains racing brakes

If you want to go fast, you’ll need to upgrade your engine. If you want to go even faster, you’d better upgrade your brakes.The ability to drive a race vehicle to its appropriate limits is helped or hampered by the stopping hardware behind the wheels and tires. There are many different types of braking systems available for racing vehicles, and Team O’Neil Rally School is here to help us wade through it all.

In some classes of racing, a vehicle is required to retain its equipment that was bolted in when it left the factory. In the case of a Ford Fiesta, which is a popular entry-level rally vehicle, that means the rear brakes are a drum setup. While fine and dandy around town, the drum brakes aren’t built to stand up to rigors of rally racing. They don’t dissipate heat as well as a rotor and caliper, and the drum shoe material wears quickly due to the high heat being generated while the car rips around a rally stage.

In other classes, those drum brakes would be upgraded to a rotor and caliper setup. Now you have more consistent braking properties, and you can push harder for longer. If you have a vehicle that’s already wearing rotors and calipers, then it’s time to start looking at your brake pads. A number of pad manufacturers offer upgrade options that bolt right into your existing calipers and provide an instant increase in braking performance.

Besides the pad material, a braking system can be improved with a different choice of rotor as well. The stock setup might utilize a solid steel rotor. For the more aggressive racing action, a move to a larger vented rotor will have a major impact in braking performance. The key is to dissipate heat as that’s the enemy of your ability to brake and brake consistently.

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As you move to a larger rotor you can also upgrade your system to utilize a larger caliper as well. Now you have a greater area of pad material that’s able to grab the rotor and slow your vehicle down quicker.

Finally, the goal of improving your braking system to achieve its maximum potential involves stiffening up various elements in that system. We’re talking about 1-piece cast calipers, strong rotors, and even steel braided brake lines. When your system is strong and stiff you’ll find that it delivers crystal clear communicative performance. When you’re racing, that’s a key component of making you go faster.

If you want to go fast, you have to be able to slow down quickly and consistently. Click play on the video above and see how you can achieve just that.

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