The previous set of all-season tires were as useless as a stick of deodorant at a Phish concert, and the brakes felt more like a '68 Chevy than a '98. It could have been a lack of maintenance, improper bedding-in of the rotors, or just insufficient factory pieces-but the brakes did not inspire any confidence in normal street driving, let alone spirited driving or racing. Fresh off his Raceway Park road racing school experience, owner Frank Cicerale was definitely itching to improve his Z's handling not to mention its appearance.
Thankfully the folks at Discount Tire were happy to hook us up with a set of Replica Alloys C6 Vette 17x9.5-inch chrome rims and Yokohama S.drive 275/40R17 tires. Meanwhile, Power Slot chipped in a set of cryogenically-treated brake rotors and Hawk added a set of HPS pads. Between the added grip of the tires and extra bite with the brakes, the Z was sure to improve its handling with this small handful of upgrades. We were so pleased with the last brake install that we decided to head back over to our good friends at Stage 1 Automotive in Pompton Plains, New Jersey, which had just undergone some renovations and the opening of a shiny new showroom. Lots of fast, chassis twisting GMs have come out of Stage 1, we were sure they could handle our little Z. Once Stage 1 got us outfitted with the fresh brake upgrades and new rolling stock, it would be time to hit the track.
After following Power Slot's directions for bedding the rotors with a series of 35 to 5-mph and 50 to 10-mph stops, we drove down to Englishtown to verify what we already felt was a noticeable improvement. As always, we relied on our Stalker ATS radar gun for the most accurate stopping distances possible. The results were very surprising, as usually a simple rotor and pad swap doesn't dramatically improve braking, but the poor shape of the previous pieces in combination with the sticky new tires really let the Z slow down in a hurry. An improvement of over 14 ft in 60-0 mph and over 95 ft in 100-0 mph stops is not at all what we expected. With numbers like that, who needs a big brake kit? Attributing the improved stopping largely to the tires didn't seem at all unfounded when we verified lateral acceleration on our skidpad at .93 g-forces, up from a previous .88 g's. So far this combination has proved reliable, quiet, and low maintenance in addition to the awesome improvement in performance. That definitely makes it a winner in my book.