As you may have read in High Performance Pontiac, performance-braking systems are one of the best modifications you can make to your Pontiac. Our in-house corner carver '05 GTO has been through hell and back with its brakes, especially given the over 4,000-pound curb weight with your less than svelte author behind the wheel and an instructor.
Several years ago we installed Disc Brakes Australia 5000-series and 4000-series rotors on the Goat and for the street, they did an excellent job. For the autocross, there was some room for improvement as the temperatures of our Hawk HPS pads were exceeded after only a single lap around the 100+mph autocross we had set up. Since autocross courses are usually very tight, our brake pads had a bit of trouble keeping up with the thermal blasts every time we stabbed the middle pedal. To resolve this, we installed a set of Hawk HP-Plus pads and voila! Our GTO was back in the saddle again.
While the HP-Plus pads may work well for some cars on some road courses, my theory about the whole thing was "why not be as safe as possible?" Which is the beautiful thing about brakes. The better your brakes perform, the safer your car is going to become. This isn't necessarily true with most other performance mods, but it certainly is the case with brakes. Therefore, we went overkill with our pad selection for Sebring and jumped to the bad boys in the Hawk lineup, the DTC-70 - one of the most aggressive brake pad compounds available.
When I went out to bed them in, braking performance instantly skyrocketed over the HP-Plus. As the Nitto NT-05 tires howled for traction, we knew we would be able to brake even better once we were in race mode on the much stickier NT-01s.
After a couple of days on the 12-hour full racing circuit at Sebring International Raceway, the pads did their job well - holding the heat and keeping brake fade to a minimum. But once all the dust cleared - no pun intended, the Goats evil side retracted and it was back into street mode on the factory 18-inch wheels and street Nittos. This was when I swapped the pads back to the Hawk HPS street pads, and after a few weeks, small squeaks began to turn up here-and-there with the braking system.
Since there was no safety issue with the brakes, they stayed on and I dealt with an extremely squeaky set of brakes for several months as I patiently waited for the pads to wear down so they needed to be replaced. Once this happened, I wanted to try something new. Yes, the Hawk pads did a fine job on the daily driver, but after dealing with StopTech in our Heavy on the Brakes, I decided to give their new Street Performance Brake Pads a shot. According to StopTech, these pads will offer similar braking torque of the HP-Plus pads but give off less dust, and have a 1,500-degree temperature where you can expect fade-free braking.
I was looking for an all-around pad that I wouldn't have to swap every time I went to the autocross so I was sold. At the same time, I picked up a set of Power Slot rotors that are now made under the same parent company as StopTech, so some metallurgy and design sharing has gone on. The DBA rotors would be coming off and used exclusively for racing from now on since they're still in fine shape.
Having done this install what seems like 20 times on this car now, I've gotten the install down to a science. In total, the new pads and rotors were on the car in under 45-minutes with time to spare for cleaning.
After the new rotors and pads were in, it was time to bed them in. This is a sequence of heavy-to-moderate 40mph and 60mph brake applications where you never come to a complete stop. It's suggested that you perform this on a closed, non-public road. But we all know that that's tough to find, so if you have to, be safe and smart about it.