When Chevrolet released its Second-Generation Camaro in early 1970, stopping was not high on their list of priorities. With only a few years racing on the Trans Am circuit in the still-new-at-the-time Camaro platform, braking had hardly reached the pinnacle of perfection it is today. Because the '70 Camaro was longer, wider, and heavier than its predecessors, it didn't stop much better than a Greyhound bus. It's not really Chevrolet's fault because back then braking was simply a means to slow the car down; it was not thought of as a way to improve performance. That's probably because when most car guys and girls think of performance, their brains automatically shift into acceleration mode. "Why would anybody worry about slowing down?" we recently overheard some gearhead saying. That mentality probably stems from every gearhead's first experience with speed, straight-line acceleration.
When you're drag racing in a mildly fast car (i.e. slower than 10 seconds), there's always plenty of room to slow down and make the last turnout before you skid into the sand box. So why would you want to spend money on your brake system when it could otherwise go for a new camshaft or cylinder heads if your car can make the last return road? We can answer that question with one simple suggestion: go test-drive a new Corvette and stomp on its brake pedal. After you put the fillings back in your teeth, you'll realize that braking can be cool. And really good braking can help make even the most mundane daily commute more exciting.
If there's one company that's become known for high-performance street car braking, it's Baer. That's because they've worked very hard developing and adapting systems for real vehicles. When you research Baer's systems, the parts may seem a bit pricey at first, but they're designed to take braking to the extreme and require little, if any, adaptation to fit your car. The Track front disc brake system we installed utilizes a big 13-inch-diameter rotor to give the caliper plenty of braking leverage and is 1.100 inches thick to dissipate tons of heat. The Baer Track rotors dissipate heat so well that their 100-0-mph stopping distances actually improved after each run and the 60-0-mph tests hardly changed distances from the first to the tenth run. That brake consistency can mean the difference between winning and loosing a race or between driving home and slamming into something. The Track system also features an aluminum mounting hat and aluminum four-piston calipers for reduced weight, which is something every Camaro needs up front. You'll need at least a 17-inch wheel to fit them inside, but the Track system is the best bang-for-the-buck front brake kit for a Pro Touring/g-Machine.
The rear brakes consist of a 12x.810-inch thick rotor using a PBR caliper and solid hat design. Since the front brakes in any car handle about 70 percent of all the braking chores, it's safe and effective to run smaller brakes in the rear. It doesn't make any sense to stuff 13-inch rotors out back, unless you're after a symmetrical look inside your wheels. You'll definitely want to combine the rear discs with an adjustable roportioning valve for the best performance.
Why Braking Is Big
Ever since the Pro Touring/g-Machine movement really took off several years ago, there's been a huge increase in the number of performance brake systems offered in the aftermarket. And you've probably already noticed that all the car magazines have begun telling you about ways to make your car stop as well as it can go. With high technology leading the way in performance braking, we thought we'd see if we could improve on Chevrolet's second-best effort of the early years: the '70-81 Camaro.
Before installing its Track/PBR brake system, Baer tested this '71 Camaro's braking ability. After the install they returned to the same stretch of asphalt to compare the results of their system. Each test was repeated 10 times to get the brakes nice and hot. Note how terribly the factory system stops as it gets hotter. The Baer system hardly even noticed the heat. All times listed is how many seconds it took the car to come to a complete stop.
Since these brakes are all about performance, and performance driving doesn't even begin to happen until you reach triple-digit speeds, Baer also ran the Camaro up to 100 mph and brought it to a halt five more times. Notice that it took the factory brakes more than one-quarter of a mile to come to a complete stop from 100 mph after they got hot. That's scary. The Baer system actually improved its stopping distances after every 100-0-mph test.