•We've been steadily working at making our 2010 Chevy Camaro SS project better than it was stock. We improved the handling with suspension parts from Detroit Speed and upped the power with a blower from Magnuson. We went faster and could turn harder, but we hadn't addressed the third aspect of a really fast car: braking.
Brakes are as important to turning in fast lap times as the engine. After all, if you can brake later and harder that means you're carrying speed deeper into a corner. Over the course of a lap all those little gains can really add up. Better brakes also mean they can suck up more abuse before showing symptoms of brake fade.
Bigger Is Better
The Camaro comes equipped with 14-inch rotors; not bad, but if you're going to run 20-inch rims then you may as well fill up that void with even more braking goodness. According to Todd Gartshore at Baer, "The benefits of moving from a 14- to 15-inch rotor are in mass and leverage. The principal gain in the larger-diameter rotor is perhaps one of the easiest lessons from physics; the lever and fulcrum used to move an object that is otherwise too large and heavy. The longer the lever arm, the greater the leverage or torque that can be exerted. In this case the lever arm is represented by rotor diameter. As diameter goes up so does the effective torque the caliper can exert. The 1-inch change itself, without accounting for a caliper with increased and more evenly distributed clamping force capability, results in over a 15 percent increase in effective torque."
The added mass helps better handle heat. Brakes work by converting speed into heat. This heat needs to be shed to the atmosphere and bigger, heavier rotors help with this energy conversion process.
The new Baer rotors are of a two-piece design. This means the center of the rotor, also called the hat, is made from lightweight aluminum. This helps mitigate the weight gain from the larger diameter. As Todd told us, "It's fair to say that even if the weight is a push between the stock 14-inch and our 15-inch rotor, moving the heat-absorbing mass into the 'fire path' provides a significantly more efficient means of absorbing and dissipating those pesky little BTU's."
In addition to bigger rotors, the other key aspects of the Baer kit are the six-piston monoblock calipers. As Todd explained, "Monoblock calipers are applied in most all top forms of motorsports and are typically made of forged or solid billet materials. This provides the best balance of stiffness and weight savings since there are no cross bolts and hardware is minimized. It also allows the use of alloys that are more stable at extreme temperatures."
When you look at your typical caliper and hold it your hands it feels so solid that many people don't realize how much they can deform under hard use. This is where the stiffness inherent to the monoblock design and 2618 material helps maximize braking performance even under severe conditions. This gives them an edge over the cast Brembo calipers that comes standard on the Camaro SS.
Putting Them To The Test
Let's be honest here. Even though the new brakes look stunning all nestled up behind our rollers what we really wanted to see was an improvement in braking. The tough part is that what came as standard equipment was already pretty damn good. When we first took delivery of our '10 SS we put it through our battery of tests where it managed a best 60-to-0 braking distance of 125.63 feet-a very good distance considering the car's weight. With the new brakes installed we again visited the test track. To be fair we also had new tires, but the 200 treadwear Nitto NT05s were not too far off the 240 treadwear Pirelli tires that came on the car standard. The brakes and tires managed to yield a best 60-to-0 stopping distance of 112.59! Best of all that distance was repeatable with little to no fade even after repeated attempts. This test was done with Baer's low-dust, street-friendly pads. Race pads would have knocked the distance down even further.