Presented by Centric Parts and its StopTech performance and racing division

February 25, 2009

The Science of Stopping: Balanced Brakes

Posted by Steve Ruiz, Director of Engineering for Centric Parts

An upgrade is not an upgrade when it has a negative impact on your vehicle’s performance. Brake upgrades can often fall into this category as performance enthusiasts pursue a “bigger is better” mentality without putting consideration into the concept of optimum brake bias for their vehicles, also known as having balanced brakes.

Optimum brake bias is obtained when a vehicle's front-to-rear brake force ratio (or force bias) exactly matches that vehicle's dynamic front-to-rear weight distribution (or weight bias). We say dynamic here because when a car is being braked we have the obvious weight shift forward taking some of the static weight that was on the rear wheels and shifting it forward. There are also aerodynamic loading factors involved as well, but we save that discussion for a future post.

The system goal then is to distribute brake force so that all four tires are simultaneously generating deceleration proportional to the four individual dynamic corner weights with only a slight calculated front bias for stability. This will maximize brake efficiency and consequently minimize stopping distance.

It is purely the combination of these two factors - brake force and dynamic corner weight - that determines a vehicle's optimum brake bias. Therefore, when selecting a big brake upgrade one should be aware that changing the force (or torque) output of the front brake components without changing the force (or torque) output of the rear brake components can cause an undesirable shift in bias.

The most dramatic brake bias mismatches are usually brought about by big brake "upgrades" which are not properly matched to the intended vehicle. How can this occur? Any time that a bigger front rotor is installed there is a simultaneous need to decrease the effective clamping force of the caliper to offset the increased leverage and therefore torque created by the larger rotor. Unfortunately, too many of these "upgrades" do not take this factor into account, and those applications end up with both bigger rotors and the same or larger pistons which serve to drastically shift the brake bias forward. As a result, stopping distances can go up dramatically.

On the race track during qualifying or a timed lap mode these effects are amplified, as outbraking your opponent by a few feet every lap can result in a multiple car length advantage by the checkered flag and during wheel-to- wheel racing the advantage can result in a safe legal pass. On the street, improper bias can also lead to shorter effective brake pad life because a set of brakes not contributing as much as they could be will lead to higher front rotor temperatures and more front pad wear – the opposite of what should be the goal. In most cases drivers will experience earlier and greater ABS activations too.

For obvious reasons, the risks are highest when upgrading only one set of brakes and rotors. StopTech is the only brake upgrade company providing proper brake bias with front- only brake upgrades. In fact they have a trademark on “Balanced Brake Upgrades” as a term. This is of course key if your budget or the rules only allows for upgrading the front axle and you are looking to maximize performance.

February 24, 2009

The Centric Story

posted by The Brake Room staff

As the presenters of The Brake Room blog, it seems fitting to take a closer look at Centric Parts.

Centric Parts, which includes the StopTech and Power Slot divisions, is a leading manufacturer and supplier of aftermarket brake components and systems for everyday cars, performance duty vehicles and ultra performance vehicles. Centric continually innovates significant improvements to brake technology for the street and track, having earned four patents along the way. Centric’s brake pads, such as the PosiQuiet line of premium Metallic, Ceramic and Extended Wear formulas, provide superior performance, quality and value.

The company was founded in 2000 in Southern California and has enjoyed solid growth every year since. Today the company operates multiple warehouse and manufacturing facilities totaling 438,000 square feet and exceeding 500 employees.

Centric’s executives bring with them extensive experience and insight. Dino Crescentini, CEO of Centric Parts has several successful aftermarket companies under his belt as founder and senior executive, including Autospecialty and StopTech and has been a race car driver for the last three decades. He currently races as part of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Championships on the Global Motorsports Group team. He will be a regular contributor to The Brake Room during the racing season.

Dan Lelchuk, president of Centric Parts, started in high school with a job at a small auto parts store and has been part of the auto aftermarket business ever since, holding positions with several import parts suppliers including Beck Arnley and Brembo as well as also having worked with Crescentini at Autospecialty. Dan will also post to this blog from time to time to offer a Centric view of the industry plus share some news about the company activities.

Stephen Ruiz, Centric Parts’ Director of Engineering and a recognized industry expert, comes with over 20 years of brake and friction materials experience as well as race car design, engineering, and manufacturing. Steve will begin a regular "Science of Stopping" collumn on this blog starting later today.

The company is rounded out with skilled and seasoned experts from across the industry. This encompassing knowledge of the industry brought by the executive team is further expanded on through Centric’s dedication to research and development. The company has one of the industry’s best programs for tracking and cataloging original equipment, and devising quality aftermarket and OE parts for consumers, mechanics and car makers.

Centric’s catalogs, a practical standard in the industry, now boast over 40,000 braking system parts supporting nearly every make and model from passenger cars to medium duty trucks manufactured since 1937. In the process, the company has earned a string of braking technology patents, has been repeatedly awarded by the Friction Materials Standards Institute for catalog and program excellence, and has earned the highly coveted TÜV approval on several big brake kits.

Originally focusing on replacement parts for everyday use, Centric parts has aggressively expanded into the performance market by acquiring StopTech as the ultra-performance division in 2006 and Power Slot in 2007 as the performance division.

February 23, 2009

Centric CEO suits up for SCCA Racing Season with Global Motorsports Group

posted by The Brake Room staff

Dino Crescentini, CEO of Centric Parts, will once again ride with Global Motorsports Group (GMG) for the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED GT World Challenge Series when the 2009 season kicks off at the Sebring International Raceway in Florida on March 18-20. This will be his first race since Crescentini was one of three drivers on the team that won the Baja Challenge at the grueling Baja 1000 late in 2008.

With that victory under his belt, Crescentini is optimistic about the 2009 SPEED GT season. “This will be GMG racing’s first full season with Stephen Ruiz, StopTech’s Director of Engineering, as the team’s Head Engineer,” stated Crescentini. Ruiz assumed the role late last season, followed by some of the GMG’s best races. “Steve Ruiz is a magic ingredient that can transform the car from something you fight into something that works with you as a driver, which is key when driving an agile Porsche against the more horsepower driven competition found on the SPEED GT tracks,” he added.

Crescentini will debut Trophy Big Brake Kits from StopTech on his Porsche GT3 this season. These are the first kits from the company designed for use on the track only, featuring ultra-lightweight calipers and a full-floating version of the company’s patented AeroHat coupled with patented AeroRotors.

“Porsche’s stock brakes are exceptionally good for original equipment, but StopTech’s Trophy Big Brake Kits go the extra distance for serious performance on the track,” commented Crescentini. “Porsche is my personal vehicle of choice on the track or off, so it was important to me that StopTech offered significant performance enhancement on those cars.”

As a Porsche driver, Crescentini prefers the SPEED GT street courses such as the Grand Prix of Long Beach in California and the Thunderbolt Raceway in New Jersey. “The Porsche GT3 is a great cut-and-thrust vehicle, so put me on a track with good brakes and lots of tight turns and I can leverage every advantage over cars that dominate on long straight-aways,” says Crescentini. “Plus I am not spooked by the concrete barriers typical of street courses, which can be unnerving to some drivers.” It is this attitude that has earned Crescentini the nickname “Street Fighter” amongst some colleagues.

Dino Crescentini was born in Los Angeles and began racing various motocross and desert events in 1972. He has expanded his racing resume for over 30 years, having participated in Alfa Club Races/Time Trials, Trans-Am series, Can-Am vintage car races, and many more classes of events before joining this current SPEED series. Along the way he has won several Rising Star of the Race awards and was named 2004 SPEED Touring Car Rookie of the Year. On the business side, he co-founded StopTech in 1999 in Southern California and departed a year later to start Centric Parts, which later added Power Slot and StopTech and performance and ultra-performance divisions.

Crescentini’s SPEED GT racing schedule with GMG Racing this season:
  • Sebring International Raceway in Florida (March 18 – 20)
  • The Grand Prix of Long Beach in California (April 17 – 19)
  • Thunderbolt Raceway in New Jersey (May 1 – 3)
  • Mosport International Raceway in Canada (May 15 – 17)
  • Watkins Glen International in New York (July 3 – 5)
  • Autobahn Country Club in Illinois(July 24 – 26)
  • Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Ohio (August 7 -9)
  • Road America in Wisconsin (August 14-16)
  • Road Atlanta in Georgia (September 23 – 25)
  • Laguna Seca Raceway in California (October 9-11).

The races will be broadcast on SPEED Channel.

Crescentini will start contributing his racing insights to The Brake Room blog here next week, and we will feature race reports and in-car footage throughout the season.

Related links:

Global Motorsports Group (GMG)

StopTech Brakes

Centric Parts

SCCA World Challenge

February 13, 2009

Centric Muscles Past 40,000 Parts

Posted by The Brake Room staff

As first reported in Aftermarket News, Centric Parts has cruised to the 40,000 parts milestone with the release of big brake kits for the SRT-8 and R/T versions of the 2009 Dodge Challenger. This is a fitting product to cross the line with, considering the company's recent focus on muscle cars including kits for the Charger and projects with Roush and SMS.

Many notable product releases from Centric Parts throughout 2008 fueled the company’s march to the 40,000 parts achievement. These included StopTech’s track-only Trophy BBKs for serious racing performance (click here for video preview of Trophy BBK) as well as Power Slot’s award-winning Power Alloy rotors which feature superior performance and durability in an entry-level, single-piece design.

Centric Parts’ expansive catalog now boasts over 40,000 braking system parts supporting nearly every make and model from passenger cars to medium duty trucks manufactured since 1937.

View the original story.

February 10, 2009

Turner Motorsport Scores Victory at Daytona

Turner Motorsport gave Team StopTech its first victory of the 2009 racing season by winning the Grand-Am Koni Sports Car Challenge race at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida with the No. #96 StopTech Brakes BMW M3. The feat was the first Koni Challenge win ever for a BMW M3 at Daytona Speedway, a track long dominated by more powerful cars, and handed Turner Motorsport its record-setting 14th victory for a GS team in Koni Challenge history.

Team StopTech, which is itself not an actual race team, consists of the select production based race cars from the Tri-Point Engineering, GMG Racing and Turner Motorsport teams competing on StopTech performance brakes in the Grand-Am Koni Sports Car Challenge Series and the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Series. Both series are broadcast on SPEED channel throughout the year.

The famous Daytona International Speedway challenges racers with a 3.56-mile, 12-turn course that requires precise braking and control to capitalize on its selection of hairpin turns. The winning No. #96 StopTech Brakes BMW M3 from Turner Motorsport pulled 2:01.046 on its fastest lap during the 74 lap race that kicked off the 2009 Koni Challenge Series on January 23, 2009.

The win was Auberlen's 12th in Koni Challenge racing and second in the last three races going back to last year. It was co-driver Matt Bell's first win among the ranks of professional racers. Bell drove the first part of the race then handed the reins to Auberlen during one of the race's cautions.

Heads up: The Brake Room is planning some special coverage of the Long Beach Grand Prix this April. Stay tuned for more info.

February 9, 2009

The Brake Room is Open

Posted by Dan Lelchuk, president of Centric Parts

Welcome to The Brake Room. We are pleased to present this online destination as an opportunity to not only look inside our company and its divisions, but also provide a brake-focused perspective on the automotive aftermarket in general.

As this site grows you will find mechanical tips on brakes, racing tips on braking, a deeper look into the science of stopping, profiles of vehicles that stop traffic and can stop on a dime, industry commentary, updates on highlighted races and racing teams, and much more.

On the company side, you’ll get the heads up on the latest news, programs, and product innovations from Centric Parts as well as Power Slot and StopTech, our performance and ultra-performance divisions.

This wide cross-section aims to have something to offer anyone with an interest in production performance cars. That broad demographic includes performance car owners, collectors, mechanics, and garage owners as well as parts manufacturers, distributors and retailers. These are the people who make up the "Brake Nation"and this is their Brake Room.