Project Civic Si: Street/Track Brake Pads for Our Street/Track Car

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David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the Honda Civic Si Coupe project car
Aug 26, 2019

Brake pads are good. They grab the brake rotor, turning kinetic energy into heat, thus stopping the car.

Sadly, though, there isn’t a brake pad that does it all. There just isn’t one that’s progressive and dust-free at cold temperatures and also suited for the 24 hours at Le Mans.

That’s why brake pad companies offer a variety of compounds. For example, take a look at the Hawk motorsports lineup. Some pads offer better initial bite, some don’t.

How to compare Pad A vs. Pad B? The spider charts and optimal operating temperature ranges can offer a great snapshot. You can’t have it all, but these can help find a compound that meets your needs.

For a simple, extreme example showing how not all racing brakes face the same conditions, let’s cruise over to the world of NASCAR. (Why? Easy data.)

At Daytona and Talladega, Brembo explains, drivers really only use the brakes when entering pit lane–or to avoid a wreck.

From Brembo:

On the Talladega and Daytona tracks, the drivers never use the brakes except in the case of a Caution Flag and when coming into pit lane.

Caution Flag episodes are not predictable, so they can result in violent braking with cold systems that risk damaging the braking systems.

In order to prevent thermal shock when stopping on pit lane, especially after a few laps when the system has not been used, most drivers rest a foot on the pedal at the beginning of the last lap before making a pit stop. By doing this, the disc begins to heat up, preparing itself for the subsequent force.

Now, let’s look at short tracks with some more info from Brembo:

On Short Tracks, the brakes are used not only to slow down, but also to help the cars turn. Different use of the brakes allows the driver to set up his line more or less quickly. Throughout the turn, the brakes therefore remain in operation. Consequently, on tracks like Martinsville, the brakes are used for about 6-7 seconds on each of the two turns. This means that the drivers actually end up using the brakes more than the gas.

Short-track brake temps can reach 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hot. Same car (kinda), same series, but a totally different situation regarding the brakes.

We didn’t need anything that extreme for our Honda Civic Si. We simply wanted a street-friendly pad that would hold up for the 20-minutes sessions found at Track Night in America. Our front stock pads were also showing some wear.

We wanted something a step up from the OE pads–say a little more modulation and temperature capability. So we opened the street section of the Hawk catalog. At the end of the day, this is a street car that’s doing track days. For something like our Corvette, a track car that’s still sort of street-legal, we’d look in the motorsports section of the catalog.

We also talked to the tech people at Hawk. Like us, they also support Track Night.

Final answer: They recommended their HPS 5.0 pad. Its spider chart tells us that this pad offers great initial response and high modulation. Stopping power is better than some others. This pad also offers low noise and low dust. (Remember what we said about this being a street car.)

We ordered a set. And, the beautiful thing is that if they’re not perfect for our needs, we can try a different compound.

On the street, performance felt great. Right there with the OE pads–no noises, no weirdness.

We installed them and our Falken Azenis RT615K+ tires before heading back to Daytona.

Daytona, even the road course, is fairly easy on brakes. You’re on the brakes for Turn 1 and the bus stop, but the straights provide plenty of time to cool them down. It’s not like Sebring’s short course. Plus, this is a laid-back track event, not the SCCA Runoffs. There’s no lap timer, no scouts. The goal is to run some safe, consistent, fun laps.

Cutting to the chase, the HPS 5.0 pads did great at Daytona. No fading, great modulation, no ABS chatter and, once again, no weirdness. The brakes felt as good on our out lap as they did at the checker. No pucker moments.

Yes, a racing pad might have allowed us to push things even further, but these pads delivered as expected. And the day after, they’re perfect for the commute.

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aw614 Reader
8/23/19 7:35 a.m.

Would the HPS 5.0 hold up at the FIRM? 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/23/19 8:04 a.m.
aw614 said:

Would the HPS 5.0 hold up at the FIRM? 

Good question since that track can be hard on brakes. I'm asking someone at Hawk right now. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/23/19 9:16 a.m.

From Hawk:

HPS 5.0 is a street pad that can handle abuse. A driver might be able to get away using them on the track for a short period of time on a lighter car. More than likely one will see brake fade.”

That makes sense as Daytona is easy on brakes. And we didn’t brake at the 1. 

For the FIRM, they recommend HP+ at a minimum up front--or be easy on the HPS 5.0 pads and not push it in every corner. The tradeoff for that extra performance offered by the HP+? Some dust and noise on the street. 

iceracer UltimaDork
8/23/19 6:51 p.m.

I used HP+ on my ZX2SR.   Worked good on track but not the best for street, they need heat.

I even used HPS on easy tracks.  Never a Problem.

pinchvalve GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/26/19 8:03 p.m.

I run the 5.0 on my Fiesta for autocross and generally like them a lot. For track night at Pitt Race, I went to the + for more stopping power. They generate a lot more dust, but hauling down for turn 17, I didn't want any surprises. 

I have just gone to a Ferodo pad on the front based on some recommendations for the FiST. First outing will be Sunday, I am looking for more ultimate bite without sacrificing modulation. If I don't like it, I can have the 5.0s back on between heats. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/27/19 10:41 a.m.

Yeah, I can see the 5.0 autocrossing nicely--good modulation. 

There's talk in the upcoming issue about the carbon-carbon brakes used at Le Mans. I learned a lot while putting it together. I guess I realized that carbon brakes heat up so quickly, but I didn't think about how they shed heat just the same. 

Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
8/27/19 11:57 a.m.

I'm wondering whether I'm going to regret trying the HP+ on the MGB, but they don't do the 5.0s for it (yet?), and I tried and failed to get any info from Hawk (a couple of emails and a phone call went unanswered). Their little spider charts are great, but you can't overlay HPS and HP+ directly (or any street vs motorsport pad comparison, though you can certainly flip back and forth, squint, and jot down notes, assuming the scales are similar).

Guess I'm looking forward to finding out just how noisy/dusty they are and whether that ambient-to-100-degree-operating-window is vital, as they really do seem like the best functional match, even with the MGB's light weight. Autocrossable seems like a good low-temp indicator, and having the headroom to be totally up to track work on a light car is awesome.

7/20/21 9:06 a.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

I realize this blog post is almost two years old now, but in case other 17+ Si owners find their way here, it appears that HP+ is (still) not yet available for the 2017+ Si front caliper.  HP+ is available for the rear, but not the front.  I inquired through a vendor last year (a strange year, for sure) and got a "maybe sometime" answer on availability.  Have checked around periodically since then, but I still have not been able to find HP+ fronts available yet.  Here's hoping the 11th gen Si shares the same caliper, maybe then...

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
7/20/21 10:10 a.m.

In reply to estatz :

Thanks for the update, and I still miss our Si. 

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