Pete Epple Technical Editor
March 2, 2010
Photos By: Marc Christ, Stacy Reynolds

Over the past few months, Project Shake 'N Bake has begun to take shape as a competent multi-purpose vehicle. With solid performances on the street and at the drag strip, it's time to see how our Mach 1 handles the twisties at Virginia International Raceway.

Since last month's suspension installation, we've had the chance to clock a bunch of street miles on Shake 'N Bake. We've tried a slew of different shock and strut adjustments, trying to find a set-up suitable for everyday driving (soft enough to be comfortable, yet stiff enough for improved handling). The Tokico D-Spec shock and struts offer more than enough adjustment to find the setting that suits your individual driving style.

Once our new Steeda suspension components had some time to settle in, our Mach 1 drove and handled like a whole new car. The car feels much more balanced and doesn't push through the turns like it used to. A very slight understeer now exists, and the car can easily be manipulated by using the throttle. The Mach's body doesn't roll over nearly as much as it did previously either. Although Shake 'N Bake is primarily used as daily transportation, it was time to see what it can do at the limit.

After mounting a fresh set of Nitto NT01s on our Steeda race wheels, we loaded the Mach up in the trailer and headed to Virginia International Raceway (VIR). The SVT Cobra Mustang Club (SCMC) was nice enough to invite us up to take part in its open track event that coincided with the 2009 Super Stang Fest. The club took to the full course at VIR, which consists of 20 turns over the 3.27-mile circuit. With 130 feet of elevation changes, VIR offers more than enough technical track sections to put our new suspension to the test.

Although we upgraded the brakes on our Mach 1, we weren't comfortable using the Hawk Performance HP Plus brake pads we normally run on the street. The HP Plus is a great pad for street and light race use, but we knew we would quickly exceed the pad's temperature rating on a track as fast as VIR. To remedy this issue, Hawk Performance sent us a set of its DTC-70 racing brake pads. At first glance, there isn't much difference between the HP Plus and DTC-70 pads, but as soon as you start to talk about compounds, the differences become very apparent.

"There are about 60 different components that make up a brake pad compound," explains Todd Miller, product specialist for Hawk Performance. The compounds consist of metals, resins, and various fillers that are combined to make a single brake pad compound.

"Changing the amounts of these components changes the heat ranges that each compound can properly operate in," adds Miller. "Different compounds also offer different levels of initial bite, or torque, to suit specific driving and braking styles, as well as different weight vehicles.

"The DTC-70 is designed to work in a temperature range of 400 to 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, and offers Hawk's most aggressive level of initial bite, which works well on heavier vehicles. The DTC-60 pad, on the other hand, operates in the same temperature range but has less torque to accommodate a different weight vehicle or a less aggressive driving style, where initial bite is not as critical. The HP Plus pad is a great crossover pad. They work well on the street as well as on track, but start to fade when you exceed 800 degrees."

There are three basic types of brake pads: organic, ferro-carbon, and sintered metallic pads. Organic pads were previously manufactured using asbestos as the friction material. This was due to its ability to dissipate heat efficiently. When the dangers of asbestos dust became apparent, companies switched to different friction materials such as glass/rubber blends, resins that are able to withstand high heat, and Kevlar. These types of brake pads are still used in commercial truck applications where large amounts of weight are consistently on the brakes.

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