Before straying from my typical choice of Ferodo DS2500’s or XP10’s, I did a little research and found that Power Stop had partnered with Bondurant Racing School and supplier of braking hardware across their fleet of track toys. Curious, I rang David Stevens, the Director of Operations at Bondurant Racing School. He informed me that Bondurant has a great relationship with Power Stop and has assisted in the development of the Track Day pad line. They do this by running Power Stop pads on all of the cars found at their school. Some cars, like the Hellcats, are equipped with Power Stop’s slotted and drilled rotors along with the Track Day pads.
That’s all it took to convince me to give them a try. If it’s good enough for newcomers in 700 horsepower, 2-ton land rockets, then it’s probably good enough for my Skyline GTR.
Full Disclosure: I was lucky enough that a friendly connection graciously sent over a free set of Power Stop’s Track Day front brake pads and their Evolution rear pads.
Admittedly, this article is coming to you a bit late. I had installed the Track Day pads on my 1992 Nissan Skyline GTR last May in preparation for a day trip to New Jersey Motorsports Park to turn laps at SCCA’s Track Night in America. These are great weekday events that offer an hour or more of track time at a very reasonable price.
Installation on the Skyline GTR was about as simple as can be thanks to the top loading pad design of the calipers. The installation video can be found here if you’re interested in the dirty stuff.
Track Time Preparation
The trip to NJMP was planned before I even had the GTR’s keys in hand. Besides installing Power Stop’s Track Day pads and flushing the brake fluid in my garage, there was a lot to do in very little time. With just days before the event, I had the GTR dyno’d at PTUNING in Manassas, VA with air-fuel readings to ensure the tune at wide open throttle was safe. It was. I had the car inspected by Sean, our resident ASE-Certified technician at IM Autohaus in Falls Church, VA. Fresh Hankook RS-4 tires were installed at GT Peace in Chantilly, VA.
Huge thanks to those guys to making that weekend happen.
I left northern Virginia bright and early, with a planned detour to AAM Competition in Annapolis Junction, Maryland. The guys there were fantastic and went well out of their way to accommodate me on short notice. The plan was to remove the old intercooler and charge pipe hoses with new pieces to eliminate (read: minimize) the chance of any boost leaks that would potentially cut my day short. Nothing worse than going to a track day and losing track time trying to trace down a failed component.
With the new hose pipes and clamps buttoned up, I was back on I-95 North and making good time. That is, until my boost controller started beeping.
This may have been the first sign of things to come. My 1992 Nissan Skyline GTR came with larger HKS turbos and all the supporting modifications including a host of HKS engine management software. The HKS boost controller, as the name implies, would allow me to control the amount of boost pressure with the turn of a dial. Factory boost pressure is in .7 bar, or roughly 10 psi. The boost controller was configured to allow the HKS 2530’s to produce 18 psi, but something went awry and wouldn’t allow beyond factory boost.
Considering this new-to-me GTR and my second trip to New Jersey Motorsports Park, first on track in a right-hand drive car, at that — perhaps dialing back the boost wasn’t such a bad thing. I fretted not, turned the boost controller off and carried on.
On Track Performance
Any seasoned driver will tell you that you don’t just roll out on track and go full beans. Nope. Especially not in a highly modified, freshly imported vehicle with just days on American soil. New-to-you cars require much more attention on track along with the warm-up cycle. Stuff can go wrong. Things break. Expensive engines can overheat. Boost leaks happen. Or perhaps most importantly, braking system malfunctions.
The first session on track went smooth. We were on Thunderbolt, a 2.25 mile, 12-turn circuit featuring a nice front straight where my stock boosted GTR’s indicated speed was well into the triple digits before to really put the brakes to the test.
After a solid 20 minutes, I was really getting the hang of the HICAS 4-wheel steering system and the GTR’s dynamics under heavy braking. The suspension was a basic adjustable damper with matched springs. Not a high-end coilover system or anything. Input and response of the GTR were superb. Power, a little down, but all was good. Power Stop’s Track Day pads had performed as well as I could expect for the first session out. No fade. Consistent pedal feel. Can’t ask for much more than that on a maiden voyage.
After a short 40 minutes in the paddock, it was time for the second session. Unfortunately, it was to be my last of the day.
The GTR was back up to speed and on the back straight when I noticed the brake light flicker under hard braking. And then again on the next. I should have pitted in there but the brakes felt solid. I ignored the signs for pit road and took another lap. Halfway around the track, the brake pedal went to the floor.
Back in the paddock, I popped the hood to discover brake fluid dripping down from the ABS unit. Applying light brake pedal pressure was enough to lose considerable amounts of fluid. The seals must have gone out. My day was done.
The pads didn’t need to be hot to operate. Even cool they still had enough bite with little brake pedal to slow me down, but with the amount of fluid lost on application of the middle pedal, I was worried about emptying the reservoir on the 3.5 hour, 180 mile drive home. Luckily I made the trip with a buddy and we limped the car to a nearby gas station where I proceeded to fill a shopping back with containers of 4oz brake fluid.
The GTR made it home and sat in a parking spot for weeks until I was able to find a replacement unit that didn’t require shipping from the other side of the globe. Go figure, the physical ABS unit from a Z32 300zx was a direct fit after swapping over the electronics. Only cost me $35 and a few hours of time.
Meanwhile, I purchased the larger factory Brembo brakes from a newer R32 GTR, which required a different pad fitment. When I removed the Track Day pads I was surprised to find the amount of wear from just over 20 minutes of track driving and 360 highway miles. They were nearly gone and I questioned whether or not they would have lasted another 40 minutes of lapping had the ABS unit not failed.
The brake rotors looked fine. Wear was normal. But man, those pads did not last long.
I have not reached out to Power Stop for comment but David Stevens at Bondurant assured me their Hellcats take a beating on those pads and they don’t see such accelerated wear rate.
To that extent, I’d love to give Power Stop another chance. They were quiet enough on the street and performed sufficiently on track. Pedal feel was consistent and allowed me to focus on driving. The price of Power Stop’s Track Day pads is considerably less than most other track worthy pads which is a huge plus.
My verdict is that they’re worth a try. If the trade-off is price vs. wear, it’s still a gamble I may take so long as I have spare pads in hand.