What’s the Best Method for Reducing Brake Fade in a Lotus Elan During Extended Track Sessions?

When it comes to pushing your Lotus Elan to its limits on a track day, one critical factor you need to consider is brake fade. It’s no secret that when brakes are used frequently and heavily, as they often are during track sessions, they can lose their effectiveness. This phenomenon, known as brake fade, can be a serious safety issue and can also hinder your lap times.

That’s why we’re going to be looking at some effective methods for reducing brake fade in a Lotus Elan during extended track sessions. We’ll be focusing on five key areas: understanding brake fade, improving your braking technique, upgrading your brake pads and fluids, cooling your brakes, and balancing your brake bias.

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Understanding Brake Fade

Before we delve into the methods of reducing brake fade, it’s essential to understand what it is and why it happens. Brake fade occurs when your brake pads and rotors can’t dissipate the heat generated from repeated hard stops, resulting in a decrease in braking performance.

When brake fade happens, you’ll notice that your brakes don’t respond as well as they should. They might feel spongy or require more pressure to work. In extreme cases, they might not work at all. It’s a frightening situation, especially when you’re going full throttle on a race track.

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There are two types of brake fade: friction fade and fluid fade. Friction fade, the most common type, happens when your brake pads get too hot and can’t generate enough friction to stop the car. Fluid fade, on the other hand, occurs when the brake fluid boils from the heat, creating air bubbles in the brake lines and reducing your brakes’ efficiency.

Improving Your Braking Technique

Good driving techniques can significantly reduce brake fade. It starts with learning how to brake properly. For track days, the technique you’ll want to master is threshold braking.

Threshold braking is applying the brake pedal as hard as possible without locking the wheels. This requires a lot of practice to get the feel for your car’s braking system and knowing how much pressure you can apply before the wheels lock up.

Another technique is trail braking, where you maintain some brake pressure while turning into a corner. This transfers weight to the front wheels, offering more grip and allowing you to take the turn faster. However, it requires a delicate balance to prevent the car from spinning out.

Keep in mind that unnecessary or excessive braking will only generate more heat and increase brake fade. Brake only when you need to, and always give your brakes time to cool down after a hard stop.

Upgrading Your Brake Pads and Fluids

Upgrading your brake pads and fluid can provide significant improvements in brake fade resistance. For a Lotus Elan, there are several high-performance brake pads available that offer better heat dissipation and friction characteristics when compared to standard pads.

When choosing brake pads, check their temperature ratings. Pads designed for track use typically have higher temperature ratings and can handle the heat generated during a race. They also tend to have better initial bite and more consistent performance under repeated hard stops.

As for brake fluids, you’ll want to go for those with higher boiling points. High-performance brake fluids have higher wet and dry boiling points, which means they can withstand more heat before starting to boil and cause fluid fade.

Cooling Your Brakes

Cooling your brakes is another effective way of reducing brake fade. The more you can dissipate the heat generated by your brakes, the better they will perform.

There are a few methods you can apply to cool your brakes. One is installing brake cooling ducts that direct cool air onto the brake system. These are often found in race cars and are an effective way of maintaining brake temperature.

Another method is using slotted or drilled rotors. These have additional spaces for the heat to escape, helping to cool the brake system. However, they can wear down brake pads faster, so keep that in mind.

Balancing Your Brake Bias

The final method is balancing your brake bias, which is the distribution of braking force between the front and rear wheels. Most cars have a front bias because the front brakes do more of the work. However, too much front bias can overload the front brakes and cause them to fade faster.

By adjusting the brake bias towards the rear, you can balance the braking load between the front and rear brakes, helping to reduce brake fade. However, be careful not to shift too much bias to the rear as it can cause the rear wheels to lock up and make the car unstable.

Balancing brake bias usually involves installing an adjustable proportioning valve or a brake bias adjuster. These allow you to fine-tune the brake bias to suit your driving style and track conditions. With the right setup, you can optimize your braking efficiency and minimize brake fade.

With all these methods, you should be well-equipped to tackle brake fade in your Lotus Elan during your next track day. Just remember that all these upgrades and techniques require practice and fine-tuning to get the most out of them. Always prioritize safety, and happy racing!

Adding Brake Cooling Systems

A critical method to prevent brake fade in your Lotus Elan during extended track sessions involves the installation of brake cooling systems. These systems assist in dissipating the heat generated by continuous heavy braking, thereby improving the overall performance of your brakes.

Brake cooling systems, such as brake cooling ducts, direct cool air onto the brake pads and rotors, significantly reducing their operating temperature. This feature is essential during track days, as it allows the brakes to cool down between hard stops, thus preventing friction fade.

Another method for cooling your brakes involves using slotted or drilled rotors. These rotors have additional holes or slots that increase their surface area, allowing for improved heat dissipation. However, an important point to note is that these rotors can accelerate the wear rate of brake pads. Hence, if you opt for slotted or drilled rotors, be prepared for more frequent brake pad changes.

Remember, maintaining a lower operating temperature for your brakes is vital in preventing brake fade. Therefore, investing in a good brake cooling system can significantly enhance your Lotus Elan’s braking performance on track days.

Regular Maintenance and Inspection

In addition to adopting improved braking techniques, upgrading brake components, and ensuring optimal cooling, regular maintenance and inspection of your Lotus Elan’s brake system are paramount to preventing brake fade during extended track sessions.

Regular maintenance entails checking and replacing your brake pads and fluids as needed. High-performance brake pads designed for track use are recommended as they offer better heat tolerance and friction characteristics. Similarly, high-quality brake fluid with high boiling points should be used to prevent fluid fade.

The inspection includes assessing the condition of the brake rotors, calipers, lines, and other components. Any signs of damage, such as cracks or leaks, should be addressed immediately. It’s also essential to ensure that these components are properly cleaned as accumulated dirt or debris can affect their performance.


In conclusion, brake fade can be a significant concern during track days, particularly in high-performance sports cars like the Lotus Elan. However, by understanding brake fade, improving braking techniques, upgrading brake pads and fluids, cooling brakes, balancing brake bias, and regular maintenance and inspection, you can significantly reduce the risk of brake fade.

Remember, any modifications or upgrades should be performed by qualified professionals to ensure safety and performance. Lastly, the key to successful track days is not just about speed but also about control, and the best way to achieve that is by having a reliable braking system. So, equip your Lotus Elan with the best brake setup and enjoy your high-speed adventures on the track.