View Full Version : Recommendations for E39 540i Track Pads?

05-11-2006, 12:50 AM
I have been considering upgrading to track pads for the HPDEs. The OEM pads (with OEM Rotors) have been working in the past but seem to be glazing a bit during heavy braking sessions especially on higher speed tracks. I have heard about CarboTech but didn't know if one compound or another would be better for my application. Also, someone mentioned Cool Willies and Hawk HP Plus pads. Any recommendations or advice? I typically run in the Intermediate/Advanced run groups at the HPDEs.

05-11-2006, 08:59 AM
Are you on street tires or R-comps?

05-11-2006, 09:40 AM
I am still on street tires.

05-11-2006, 11:08 AM
I ran Carbotech XP8s up front on my 330i last year and I'm moving up to the XP9s this year. I was happy with the XP8s, but I'm hoping the XP9s can provide me with a little more fade resistance. If the OEM pads have been pretty good to you, I would say go with the XP8s. I would have suggested the XP9s because you have a heavier car, however Carbotech stopped making that compound and I think the XP10s would be too much for street tires.
Also, I'm using the Panther+ compound for the rear brakes.

05-11-2006, 11:54 AM
About how many track days have you been getting on a set of XP8s? I know that this won't be an indication of my usage but just curious.

I called up Carbotech and they say it will take about a week to work up a set of XP8s for my car (probably not in time for the Shenandoah event). They also recommended the XP8s but said the Panther + might work as well (which they have in stock). Are there any local retailers that sell Carbotech brakes? Maybe I can check with them.

05-11-2006, 12:51 PM
I managed to get 12 days out of my set, but I doubt I will get that many next time around. Eric Wong sells the Carbotechs (www.brakeswap.com) but I'm not sure he has your application. Also, if you order directly from Carbotech, don't forget to ask for a CCA discount.

05-11-2006, 01:58 PM
Tom, I am not sure if you checkout bimmerforums or not but there is a really good (and long) thread on brake pads in the track forum section. I am actually in the same boat as you, going to get a dedicated set of pads for the track because I managed to cook my stock rotors last time at VIR. From the read it seems that people are really high on Hawk HT-10s, so I am thinking of getting a set for the front.

05-12-2006, 05:52 PM
I run Turner Cool Willy track pads. I can run them to/from teh track and have never faded them on the track.

05-13-2006, 05:21 AM
At your level, track pads are a very good idea. They are designed to operate at much higher temps, and will give you much more secure track braking. I'm sure you are overheating your stock pads, which are really quite good all-around. At Summit Main, they are probably okay for the first 4-5 laps, then they are overheated.

Keep in mind that track pads, by their nature, don't work well on the street (i.e. at non-track temps). Expect longer stopping distances, especially when very cold, like the first stop in the morning. I install them strictly for the drive to/on/from the racetrack. With proper care they are perfectly safe.

Also, make sure to keep your brake fluid fresh. Understand the difference between bleeding and flushing, and if you don't DIY, make very sure your mechanic flushes your system. About a litre of fluid is required. I use ATE blue/gold alternating, as do lots of NCC track junkies.

You want to be careful about track pads for some odd reasons, nothing to do with stopping the car.

There are a few track pad compositions out there that are very street car unfriendly, in that the brake dust is very nasty stuff. The worst aspect is that should the dust on your wheels get wet, the dust hardens into this cement-like mixture that is almost un-removable. I trashed my stock M3 wheels with this stuff, removing the finish to get the glop off. So far, the most guilty formulas are Hawk Blues and Performance Friction 97. Hawk Blues are also known for throwing hot sparks out that end up imbedded in the cars' paint! Yikes, thats hot! There may be others, so beware. These formulas also tend to agressively wear rotors when cold, like to/from the track.

Hawk HT-10's have not been reported to have the dust problem, don't know about rotor wear. Haven't tried them myself, I'd like to hear from someone using them on Summit Main. I've heard they are a very high-temp pad, for hardcore racing, and may not stop at all at street temps. Anyone?

The old PF 90 compound was very rotor friendly, an awsome DS pad. They quit making it and recommended switching to the 97. This is how I found out about the problem.:frown:

No problems reported with the Carbotechs, either. This is what I will try next. Website provides some good application info, as well. They come highly recommended by people on this board, as well.

The Cool Willy's are very rotor friendly, reasonably priced, and have no dust problems. The can be overheated if you really, really try, but not bad for an intermediate pad. I used them for about 3 years, then stepped up to the PF90s, now NLA.

Hawk HP+ pads are reported to be unsuitable for heavy track use.

If I was recommending to a A/B student in a E39, I'd suggest the Cool Willy's. Get 'em from Turner Motorsport. Read the note about use f&r.

I'd be interested in hearing all actual experiences concerning track pads, maybe I need to spin up a thread on the Driver's School forum.

Look me up if you are at the Shenandoah event next weekend.
and always,
enjoy your BMW.
- Joel B.

Phat Ham
05-13-2006, 07:25 PM
I did two DEs in my 540. The first was at the Jefferson Circuit last May with OEM pads. The brakes faded toward the end of each session and by the end of the weekend the front pads were almost gone. They were not new at the start of the weekend, but brake wear was significant.

The second DE I did was in August at the Shenandoah Circuit with Axxis Ultimates on all four corners. They felt better than the OEM pads but they glazed over the course of the weekend. I would not recommend these pads for a DE.

I'm getting a set of Carbotech XP10s for the DE coming up next weekend. I'll report back on how they work out.