Dangerous "Track" Brake Pads

So this post is probably going to be a bit contentious, but I think it needs to be said. There are many brake pads on the market which their manufacturer’s say are capable of going on a race track, and they are very very much not, even on light vehicles like the Miata or BRZ/FRS/86. This post is my opinion, but it’s backed by my own personal experiences and my observations of others.

Hawk Pads less than DT60

One of the most popular brands of brake pads, especially with the SCCA crowd, is Hawk, because they give really good contigency offerings. They sponsor a lot of events, and generally a lot of people like them. I am not one of those people. That aside, Hawk DTC60 and DTC70 are perfectly reasonable options on track or during an HPDE. What is not reasonable, and I would argue is even unsafe and should fail tech, is running Hawk HP+ or Hawk HPS on track. Unfortunately this is a very common thing to see. The maximum operating temperature (MOT) of Hawk HP+ is only 800C. That means you are going to get two proper threshold braking zones out of a set before they start to smear and form depositions on your rotors (causing your rotors to “warp”). Absolutely not sufficient for track use.

If you want to run Hawk brand pads, at minimum you should be using a DTC60 on track.

Anything by EBC

None of the consumer-available EBC compounds are appropriate for track use, including Yellowstuff. I will say that I have not yet tried their new Orangestuff compound, so maybe it’s okay, but I doubt it based on my very negative experiences with Yellowstuff. EBC claims a MOT of 900C for the Yellowstuff, which isn’t enough for track usage, and I very sincerely doubt. In my one attempt at using them, I had the pads disintegrate on me on track, and thankfully it was progressive enough that I was able to pit and check my brakes so no harm was done. I’ve had acquaintances who’ve used them at HPDE and also suffered negative experiences. There’s simply no reason to use these products if you’re going on track.

Generally Avoid “Hybrid” Pads. Get a Dedicated Track Pad

There are definitely some hybrid pads that will work for a beginner in HPDE like the Ferodo DS2500, however any of the hybrid pads, including the DS2500 will soon show their weaknesses as you improve your driving skill. There are, to my knowledge, not a single “hybrid” pad compound on the market that is actually capable of being used as a real track pad. They’re all far too street oriented and beyond the very first track event you might do, should be seriously avoided. Regardless of the brand, these types of pads simply aren’t appropriate for track use. Get a dedicated track pad. If you don’t want to swap pads, get a dedicated track pad that has a wide enough temperature band it can be used on the street and deal with the higher rotor wear rates and NVH.

So What Should You Use?

There are many brands that offer solid options. I’m particularly fond of Carbotech because they have their 1521 street compound which is compatible with their XP10 and XP12 track pads, allowing you to swap pads without needing to re-bed or swap rotors. Very useful. Pagid, PFC, Winmax, GLoc, Endless, Project Mu, Ferodo Racing, and Carbonne Lorraine all make decent track pads as well. Pad compound is somewhat a personal choice. I run CSG Spec C2s, which are similar to some of the Pagid or PFC enduro compounds, with extremely long pad life even under hard track usage, low rotor wear rates, and are streetable. At $400/axle for pads, though, these may not be appropriate for your use case or budget.

A Word on Rotors and Fluid

Don’t use Motul RBF600/RBF660 on track. Regardless of what the marketing material says, and the fact that Motul makes great engine and gear oil, their brake fluids boil quite easily and pretty much require bleeding after every session, which is a real hassle. You should acquire and use a proper racing brake fluid, the extra cost is made up in the fact you don’t need to bleed between sessions and can run it for a season and just flush. I use and recommend Castrol SRF, but there are some other options with similar performance like Endless RF650.

Additionally, for some reason I’ve seen a lot of folks go to their first track day with drilled and slotted rotors. These are not only unnecessary with modern compounds, they’re detrimental to wear rates and safety. Slotted rotors increase pad wear and can lead to pad crumbling, especially at the edges, and wear faster than flat faced rotors. Cross-drilled rotors are a safety hazard, especially inexpensive ones with typical poor metallurgy, as they’re very prone to cracking. Anytime a rotor has cracks that go all the way through to the vanes, you should replace it, consequently drilled rotors don’t last long at all. Buy flat-faced cast iron rotors, they have high thermal mass and consistent performance and are the most economical for track use. I typically buy Centric Premium blanks, although I sometimes will spring for Brembo rotors for my BBK if I’m willing to pay the extra money for longer lifespan.