TrackSTer: Can Stop, Will Stop
The TrackSTer build up for last month’s Chicago Auto Show (CAS) was insane. In roughly three weeks we completed about six months worth of work. Rather than hit you with one huge all-inclusive build article, we’re going to go back in time and highlight some of the more significant upgrades (brakes, suspension, exterior and interior upgrades, etc.) to our Focus TrackSTer. More than likely we’ll highlight the Mountune engine build/swap last, so you’ll just need to suffer through the other cool stuff we’re going to cover first. Just saying…
Speaking of the Mountune-built 2.0 Ecoboost, by now you already know it’s putting out some pretty decent numbers (around 350-whp, but we still need to hit the dyno), and while the stock ST brakes are plenty good for street/light track use, we wanted to be sure that heavy track use wouldn’t be an issue, even in our hot SoCal desert climate. A quick call to Ford Racing lead to a very nice solution. Ford Racing and Stoptech had already been working on a prototype 4-piston caliper and 328mm floating rotor front axle kit, and it didn’t take much convincing to let them know that the TrackSTer project would make for an excellent R&D vehicle (pun intended). Since the front brakes on a lightweight FWD car handle close to 90% of all the braking duties, we’ve chosen to leave the stock rear brakes alone. For now (we will play around with different pads and stainless steel lines).
As you can see within the gallery pics, installation was about as straightforward as possible, with little more required than would be needed to simply remove and replace the stock items (followed up by a proper bleeding, of course). This prototype Focus ST front kit consists of two 328 x 28mm 2-piece slotted rotors, two forged aluminum 2-piece 4-piston calipers, a set of Stoptech pads, and stainless steel brake lines. Why not drilled rotors, or even drilled and slotted? In our experience even cast-hole rotors tend to be susceptible to stress/heat cracks, and we find a slotted set-up is very effective at dealing with gas and dust build up.
In the pics you’ll also notice a pair of Adaptec Speedware spacers. Ideally, we keep blank ET0 Tarmac wheels in stock and had planned to use a set, but in getting ready for CAS we realized we didn’t have a set in stock. So we used a set of off-the-shelf 18×9.5 ET40 ‘macs and hit up Adaptec for a set of 35mm studded spacers. This gave us the wide track and aggressive look we wanted. Now, we don’t recommend using spacers this thick for hard track use, and as soon as we receive more ET0 blank wheels we’ll swap them on the car. We’re also looking at modified lower control arm options that would reduce our less than ideal scrub radius situation resulting from using such low offset wheels, and if a solution is found before the new wheels arrive, we’ll just stick with ET40.
A few weeks ago we lent the TrackSTer to Ken Block while he was in town shooting season two of The Octane Academy. We knew that meant both the car and KB would be at Willow Springs International Raceway for a few days and to us that meant an excellent chance to get the TrackSter out on the track for a quick shakedown, as well as an opportunity to get some much-needed feedback from Ken. Though the rush to CAS meant we’d yet to get the car on a set of scales or even dial-in the alignment settings, track time is track time and you never say no to track time. Luckily, we’d already begun the engine break-in process, and KB’s trip out to Willow provided the rest of the miles we needed. The trip out to Willow also allowed for KB to properly bed-in the new pads and rotors.
His first day with the car Ken hit the track and declared the car to be impressive, even in its un-sorted state of suspension tune. We’ll provide detailed racetrack feedback (ours and KB’s) regarding the entire car, but for this article we’re happy to report the Ford Racing/Stoptech big front brakes were awesome. For the sake of comparison, we had many laps with stock-brake Focus STs (Focus STanced was one of them, and we’ll cover that experience in an upcoming STanced update) and the extra modulation and braking force offered by the TrackSTer’s new binders made a for a truly huge difference. Fade was not an issue and threshold braking with no ABS interference was notably easier compared to the stock set-up.
Big power is important, but in a track environment it can be argued that good brakes matter even more, and though we still plan to play with different pad compounds, we’re extremely pleased so far with the TrackSter’s newfound braking abilities.
To see all the images, please visit the related gallery.