Race Car Brake Fade! What Causes It? Tech Session

Hello, how are you today?

It has been a few weeks since my last article, the reason for this has been due to being very busy supplying Motorsport parts to some of the leading race teams and developing lots of new Motorsport products for you all. Enough of all that, let’s get down to what you want to find out about. What is brake fade?

Brake fade is totally frightening and scary when it happens, however at some point I can guarantee you will experience it in your racing career.

After reading this article you will understand why it has happened and what it is. Normally there are two type of brake fade, boiling of the brake oil and the break down of the brake pads.

Boiling Of The Brake Fluid

This the most common brake fade, this is caused due to the brake fluid getting so hot from the friction of the brakes pads and discs being transferred into the brake fluid. This heat dissipation eventually boils the brake fluid causing air bubbles, these air bubbles that are created compress when the pedal is pressed. The solid link from the master cylinder to the caliper has been compromised with air that will compress.

Some times in extreme cases the brake pedal will go to the floor and not offer hardly and braking at all! The only way to bring the brakes back to a working system is to allow the brake fluid to cool down. This is pretty hard in a race environment when you are pushing the car to the limits. However there are techniques that can help, I will talk about these later in this article.

Overheating Of The Brake Pads

The other reason for brake fade is the brake pads getting very hot again via the heat dissipation from the friction caused when hard braking. In this scenario the brake pads will get so hot that the composite of the pads will be compromised. What happens is the pads temperature has risen past the point that the pads are designed to operate at. When this happens the gas in the pads is boiled out of them, this gas does not just evaporate away it forms a layer on the pad between the pad and the disc / rotor.

When this occurs the layer acts almost like a lubricant so the pad can not create the desired braking needed to slow the car. You will find in this situation the pedal will be as normal however it will not matter how hard you push the pedal the car will not brake as normal.

What to do when you have brake fade?

Both of these scenarios are due to heat in the brake system, the only solution is to cool the system down. As I mentioned before that is very difficult when you are in a race situation and driving the car to its limits. But with either of these brake fade circumstances you will not be able to drive the car to its limits.

There are a few ways to help cool down the brakes without affecting your speed too much.

Braking really late for corners is not a great practice, as this will cause heat problems and will not gain you very much time. Therefore, braking a little earlier will not effect you lap times a great deal, as long as you brake lightly so your corner entry speed is just as high as it would normally be.

When the braking is lighter the heat is less so your brakes will stay cooler to reduce the heat problem. The goal is to keep the heat out of the brake system and allow the brakes to cool as much as possible allowing the air to flow through the brakes.

If you have any place on the race track where you can not use the brakes and use the throttle to slow down slightly or a combination of coming off the accelerator and slightly applying the brakes will help cool the system.

I hope you have found this interesting, thank you for your time.

A Look Back at the Most Impressive Race Car Engines

Did you know that race cars must have extremely powerful engines in order to be winners? Besides the aerodynamics that have been implemented and the modifications, the engine is what makes the car the ultimate winner.

Let’s start off with the famous Formula One Ferrari. One of the most famous engines in the F1 was the Ferrari V10 F1. It was a 3.0 litre, ten cylinder racing car that was responsible for 57 wins.

The Porsche Flat 6 is another racing vehicle that left an impression on the world. It was a 2.0 litre air cooled engine. The most recent version of this Porsche has received impressive results by winning many races over the years.

The Porsche Flat 12 has one of the biggest engines in the racing industry. There are two flat six engines packed into this car. It is a 4.5 litre engine which has 1500 horse power. You can imagine how cramped the driver must have been to make space for this massive machine.

The Mazda R26B 4-rotor might have been one of the craziest models in the racing industry. Having entered 21 races and only winning one might be a strange statistic. This one race was the LeMans and it made an impression as it was the only car that was not a conventional piston engine and it was a unique marque.

The BMW S14 was the start of the M-series. Winning the championship but winning no races, it was simply a 2.5 litre engine with only four cylinders.

The Audi R10-18 TDI has been through many changes over time but always had a memorable engine. Originally, this model was a petrol engine that had ten cylinders. This was entered into the LeMans race and won. However, the manufacturers decided to place a diesel engine with twelve cylinders and two turbos. Now, that is an amazing amount of power in just a single race car. Not even Formula One cars have a V12 Engine.

Ever race car has to be equipped with the finest mechanical and electrical parts. Races are there to prove the quality of the car before hitting the city streets. Racing cars also test how well an engine can cope under extreme conditions such as heat, rain and snow.

Racing tracks are also the best places for tyre manufacturers to test their new products. Rubber needs to withstand heat and friction over long periods of time and track day is the time to test it.

How to Prepare Your Car and Wheels for a Race

You will see that during any races on television the crew changing the tyres quite often. Racing puts a lot of strain on the car and the wheels. Why is that?

Speed causes most of the components to heat up quicker than during a normal drive. The pistons have to move faster pushing the crank to move faster. It is important to make sure that the right amount of lubrication is present between these mechanisms. The oil keeps the components moving smoothly. If there is no smooth movement present you are in danger of causing the components to wear out.

Anything that is worn away inside the engine has to be completely replaced. Always make sure that there is oil in the engine. It’s also important to make sure that the cooling parts are up to standard. If the engine does not cool down it could blow up or melt from the intense heat.

Have you never noticed that racers take a couple of laps before the actual race starts? The warming up of the tyres is an important part of racing. The hotter the tyres are during the race the faster the car will go because of the lack of friction present. It’s wise to make sure that when you start a race you change those tyres because of the wear they will endure. Wear will unbalance the car slightly making it difficult to handle.

Racing wheels don’t have a tread or have a very shallow tread with very low side walls. The suspension is low because of the small amount of air that has to surround it to make it aerodynamic. Getting the shocks checked is also important. Remember that with a lower suspension the car will less likely be able to drive over humps because of the lack of absorption of force.

Make sure that your wheels have been balanced and aligned. The forces the car goes through during a race are incredibly strenuous. An unbalanced tyre will cause you to lose control of the car. Around extreme turns the wheel and axle will end up failing on you thus causing the car to flip over.

Races tend to do ten times the damage a normal drive would do because of speed, heat and forces applied to the wheels. Your tyre and wheel wholesaler will be able to put the correctly fitted tyres and wheels on your car before a race along with the correct balancing and alignment.