Category: Wilwood brake calipers

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Probably all of us, or maybe just some of us can look back on some awkward moments.  For me at least they generally are of the beautiful plan gone horribly wrong category. as a case in point I offer the following example.

My first experience with a GT1 car was a sobering one. Having raced a ITA Mercury Capri for several years with indifferent results I had to take the plunge.  One of those times when you know you shouldn’t do it but everything works out so you can. An acquaintance had a Thunderbird bodied stock car chassis that he was about to give up on trying to make work. At the same time a guy walked up to me at Summit Point and offered to buy my car. So he became the proud owner of an ITA Capri, and I became the owner of a GT1 car. Well almost. To get it to where I could afford it, a lot of parts were not included. But with the help of my best friend, and a patient wife it once again became a car.

The first time it was out on the track was a drivers school, held in a monsoon, at Summit Point. The second was my second drivers school.  These revealed a couple of things in graphic detail. One we had a really good engine. Two the brakes, from a late-model stock car, were marginal. Marginal with a capital M. Lastly it was a pig. The handled was so bad I didn’t have a clue on how to make it better.

So, rather than address the handling I bought myself some brakes. Straight from the bigger is better school of thought (low buck edition) I bought the entire front brake setup from the #31 Mike Skinner Sprint Cup car.  They had run it at Sears Point that same year. A great deal, 2 giant Wilwood calipers, about 10 rotors, several sets of hats, and bunches of sets of brake pads. All for a reasonable, it seemed, price.

So we redid the caliper brackets, bolted everything in place, bleed the brakes and awaited our next race at Summit Point.

When the time came we loaded the car, drove the 126 miles to Summit Point, unloaded the car and awaited our turn to get out on track. When that time came we went out on the course feeling that this time it was all going to be good and we would be a contender.

That good feeling lasted for maybe two laps of practice. It became apparent to me that some thing wasn’t right. The car wouldn’t accelerate like it should, and the brakes were weird. So I pulled into the pit lane, my friends came out to see what was wrong, and after a short conversation we agreed I would go out and try it again.  It immediately became apparent that we had a major problem. The engine for all its power would barely move the car along pit road.

Finally after some head scratching and oohing and wtf’s? Somebody put their hand on the center of the front wheel. Wow! It sure wasn’t supposed to be that hot. So even to the rookies that we were it was obvious that we had a brake problem. After taking the front wheels off we were able to push/pull the car back to the pits. Obviously too hot to work on we went to find help. Fortunately a fellow competitor was not only able to diagnose the problem as a stuck front caliper but point us toward someone who had spares. (Of course we didn’t, after all we’d just gotten the brakes).

So now came the process of fixing the problem. Once they had cooled sufficiently the calipers were removed from the car. Before the pads were removed, a block of wood was inserted between the pads. Then an airline was put onto the fitting where the brake line attached. A slight puff of air and the pistons pressed the pads against the wooded block. Than the wood and pads were removed so that the pistons could be removed from the bores.

So now we had to correct the problem. The old seals were removed, and the pistons lightly sanded, LIGHTLY sanded, with a fine emery paper. New seals were placed on the pistons, which were then reseated in their bores. Calipers were bolted onto the front uprights and brake pads installed.

No more problems, and a very valuable lesson learned. Always check, no matter what the pedigree, new or used. And spares are necessary whether you need them or not.

So if you want to avoid a similar situation give us a call at (804) 921-0902 or visit our store at


I know its been a while since I posted anything, and there’s a reason for that. But fear not a new article is on the way. But knowing you’re going to be busy, read really busy, until Xmas is over I think I’ll hold off a little bit. Maybe after Christmas you will actually have time to read it.

As you know I’ve been saying that you need to take a look at the brakes on the old race car over the winter, and doing a little maintenance on the calipers is a pretty smart thing. So I’m going to tell a story from my experience, with the new, at least to me, brake calipers I put on the car. I don’t want to spoil the story but a hint is that 500 horsepower sometimes can’t move your car down pit road.

So be prepared, it will be up for a New Years present.