Through a series of strange decisions yesterday night I ended up doing a brake pad swap in the parking lot during a car meet I regularly attend. Why, is probably the first question you might ask and there are a lot of reasons. Dollar tacos are a big one, but also supporting the community via education and promoting a community track day event too.

Still not very clear huh?

Let’s back up a little bit. My local car group added a track day to its yearly competition event, The Subaru Shootout, which was previously just drag racing. I’m a big fan of track days and started doing them with my car about a year ago now. A lot of people, in general and in this group, are intimidated by the idea of tracking their car. I find that particularly funny since in this club at least half the members have WRXs or STIs.

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Months ago (and periodically since) when this event was conceived and arranged there was discussion of putting guides and videos together to dispel rumor, assuage doubts and show people what it takes. Since then nothing has happened. I was pondering this during a particularly soul sucking commute out of the city on Monday morning and I had a bit of an epiphany. Our group motto is “For the Community, By the Community” and that was where it came from. Putting something like that together isn’t necessarily easy, you need technical knowledge, mechanical skills, A/V equipment, and edition skills. Therefore lets, do this as a community, one person does not need to (and probably cannot) do it all!

To that end, I started writing up an outline for what I thought was important, shared that and my idea with the group and got started with gathering some of that technical knowledge. None of this quite explains how I ended up doing a brake job in a parking lot, but we’re close! Up until last night I still had my track brake pads on my car from the last even I ran that was over two weeks ago now. Driving around on track pads has a few pitfalls, they are a bit abrasive and wear rotors at an accelerated rate, they do generate a fair amount of dust (which I really don’t care about) and most critically they make your car sound like a city bus. That last one is very undesirable, particularly during those soul sucking commutes we were talking about earlier.

Swapping pads is not a big ordeal, I’ve done it on this car about 8 times in the last year at this point, however, I’m really not supposed to work on my car at my apartment. As I usually do I had enlisted the help of one of my friends, we were going to do the job at his house yesterday evening. That was the plan until yesterday morning when in one of the group chats I’m in a different friend mentioned they really were looking forward to the dollar tacos before the normal Wednesday car meet. dollar tacos are of course somewhat more alluring than a brake job so of course everyone wanted those, but we had planned the brake job. So half jokingly the idea was hatched to just do the job after getting tacos and at the meet. I decided to run with it and use it to demonstrate the most critical part of track prep (changing brake pads). So I talked to the meet organized, who liked the idea, then posted to find someone to film it and quickly we had some volunteers. Gotta love the community!

Footage needs to be edited and a voiceover done to complete the video, but I’ll worry about that later. For now I have a quiet(ish) car and a little autopsy on the “damage” from my last couple track days:

Tie rod end, with a broken boot puking grease.

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This is a side effect of living a half an inch from a 800+ degree brake rotor. Both sides will need to be replaced, probably before winter, there no play in the joint yet so it hasn’t yet been contaminated and failed. The long term solution is to wrap these in header wrap and I’ve got some of that plus stainless steel zip ties in the mail

Rear Tire

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Front Tire

I probably didn’t need to label them, because as you would expect after 5k miles, a dozen autoX runs and four hours and 20 minutes of track time the fronts have developed a bit of wear. On the upside it is nice and even and they’ve now been moved to the back where there was relatively little wear. I would estimate I’ll get at least 2 times more wear out of this set (10k miles, 8+ hours of track abuse) I feel uninclined to complain about that from a 200 treadwear tire.

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Front Right Inner , Top View

Note the taper from front to back

Front Left Inner, Face View

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Note the cracking near the hole

Front Left Inner, Side View.

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Note the taper from top to bottom

Right Rear Outer, Face View

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Note minor cracking

Right Rear Outer, Bottom View

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Note drastically lower wear, exibiting minor taper front to back

Right Rear Outer, Side View

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Note minor wear, no visible taper

I was pretty surprised to see the Front pads worn this badly. My last event had 7 20 minute sessions and I did push the brakes very hard, working on shortening braking zones. On my previous set of pads I never saw this kind of taper wear, but I was also on much less stick tires and not using nearly the braking pressure I am now and clearly this is the result. These pads cannot be used for another event. So now I have to decide if I will replace them with the same material, Carbotech XP12 or try something new.