Pete Epple Technical Editor
December 17, 2009
Photos By: Patrick Hill, Justin Cesler

Road Course
The next stop was the road course at Gainesville, which was configured at just over a mile. Though there are no elevation changes, this track is quite technical, with a couple of off-camber turns and some nice switchbacks.

Although we were extremely excited about seeing just what our Mach 1 was capable of doing, this test was short-lived. After just a couple of laps around the circuit, brake fade set in. A combination of scorching heat (it was over 90 degrees ambient) and our well-worn Mach's brakes ended in big-time fade and a short on-track session. We've previously experienced very good braking from stock Mach 1s, but our car is obviously whipped in this department. While most people would look at this as a bad thing (we were upset about not being able to run), this gave us the chance to change some parts and get rid of another weak link.

At The Shop
When we returned to MM&FF command central in Tampa, we made some much-needed improvements. Mach 1s came with the same brake combination as the '94-'04 Cobras. Once we tune them up, the 13-inch front rotors with dual-piston PBR calipers and 11.6-inch rear rotors with single-piston calipers will be capable of handling everything we are going to put them through.

Before we dismantled our Mach 1, we also wanted to augment our track test with an instrumented braking test. With the help of Scott Parker, editor of GM High Tech, we grabbed our Stalker radar equipment and clocked our rate of decel. A series of stops from 60 mph confirmed what we already knew. After only three stops from 60 mph, our stopping distance steadily increased due to fade. Our first shot yielded a distance of 135 feet, followed by 140-foot stop, then 145 on our final attempt. Had we gone on, distances would have been astronomical. In an emergency, that extra 10-15 feet could mean the difference between stopping safely, plowing into another car, or flying off track!

Once our test was complete, we put Shake 'N Bake on the lift and removed the old calipers. From AmericanMuscle.com, we ordered a set of Hawk Performance HP Plus brake pads. These pads are designed for street use along with open-track and autocross racing, making them perfect for our application. AmericanMuscle also sent us J&M's stainless steel Teflon brake hoses. Stainless lines are a great upgrade on any performance braking system. They provide great resistance to ballooning, unlike the stock rubber lines. This helps keep constant fluid pressure to the calipers, not to mention providing improved pedal feel at the limit.

Since we have multiple open track days already planned, along with a few autocross trips, we wanted to get as much performance and life out of our brakes as possible. For this we turned to Kenny Brown Performance for its brake coolers and duct kit. This kit replaces the stock dust shield, and gives a forced flow of cool air directly to the brake rotors. This is oh-so important when looking for maximum brake performance lap after lap.

As we started taking our brakes apart, we found something we weren't thrilled to see-the driver-side front rotor was cracked. We had planned to reuse the slotted and crossdrilled rotors that were on the car, but it was time to make other plans. Disk Brakes Australia (DBA) sent us a combination of its DBA-5000 (front) and DBA-4000 (rear) series rotors, solving of our problems. The DBA-5000 series are two-piece slotted rotors with DBA's Kangaroo Paw vent design. The Kangaroo Paw design is said to dissipate heat faster than straight cooling vanes and will add strength to the rotor, thus preventing ballooning under extreme braking conditions. The BDA-4000 series rotors are a one-piece design, which also utilize the Kangaroo Paw design.

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The installation of everything was quick and easy. Once the stock dust shields were removed the installation of the brake coolers was straight forward. The only tricky part was figuring out where to mount the duct inlets.

After finishing up our brake install, we flushed out the old brake fluid in favor of fresh Amsoil DOT 4 fluid. Amsoil Series 600 High Performance DOT 4 brake fluid offers a much higher dry boiling point than the stock fluid, making it ideal for autocross and open-track use. With our brakes bled, we spent a few miles bedding in the pads per the manufacture's specifications before retesting our Mach 1.

With Parker armed with the radar gun, we cranked the Mach 1 back up to 60 mph for a second series of stops. Our first stop gave us a distance of 149 feet. Even though it's further than our previous first stop, the new pads and rotors are designed to handle much higher temperatures and need to heat up a little. Our second stop was a shorter 144 feet, followed by a 142-foot stop. Although our overall stopping distance didn't decrease, we eliminated the fade and are sure the brakes will help us go much quicker on track due to the higher operating temperature of the Hawk brake pads.

Although for the amount of work we did it would have been just as easy to install a big brake kit (and that's not to say we won't in the future), we wanted to extract the most performance we can out of what we already have. Now that the brakes are ready to go, lets get out on track!

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