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Ford v Ferrari: 60 Second Brake Rotor Swap

For racing teams in the 1950s and ’60s, it took 20 to 30 minutes to change the brake rotor. As speeds increased at Le Mans, rotors would often crack or deform due to the heat.

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In the movie Ford v Ferrari, characters mention how the brakes on the GT40 could be changed quickly during the race. The movie shows them replacing the entire corner of the suspension along with the brakes, but the reality is that they just changed the brake rotors and pads.

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A mechanic works on Ford MKII brakes.

Quick-change brakes may sound groundbreaking even today. In 1965, the solution was common sense.

In the 1950s and 1960s, most brake rotors and drums were mounted with bolts to the inboard side of the wheel flange. In order to remove the brake rotor, the axle nut was removed and the bolts securing the rotor to the flange were loosened. For racing teams, it took 20 to 30 minutes to change the brake rotor. The wheel bearing also needed to be serviced in some cases and adjusted to the correct pre-load to finish the job. As speeds increased at Le Mans, rotors would often crack or deform due to the heat.

Shelby’s Phill Remington had a simple and elegant solution for replacing rotors on the GT40. The solution was to mount the rotor on the outboard side of the wheel flange. All the mechanic had to do to remove the wheel and two bolts for the brake caliper. The rotor would slide right off the hub and locating pins. This is how most light-duty cars and trucks do it today.

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This story first ran on safebraking.com.

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