The Stezzano, Italy manufacturer has supplied champions in Formula 1, GP2, at Le Mans and in most forms of sports car racing throughout the world. In the United States, Brembo is used in American Le Mans Series competition and, surprisingly enough to most viewers, it has been active in NASCAR since the early 1990s, supplying champions for at least the last 15 years.
Now Brembo returns to Indy car competition, having begun its American open-wheel history in 1989 with CART driver Bobby Rahal, eventually helping the Ohioan to his 1992 championship.
Brembo will initially deliver its brake system directly to safety cell manufacturer Dallara, also located in Italy. Brembo's Mooresville, NC American racing operations headquarters will provide parts and support to Indy car teams throughout the 2012-2015 seasons.
The engineers at Brembo's Red Kilometer headquarters developed a 6-piston, monobloc aluminum billet caliper for this application, with an insert of titanium-radiation on the piston top that will give better heat resistance to the brake system. The caliper - used at all four corners - increases stiffness and performance of the system without compromising INDYCAR's weight requirements. The entire system weighs a bit over four pounds.
The new innovative Brembo system incorporates lightweight carbon-carbon discs, similar to those used in Formula 1 and at the 24 Heures du Mans. The Indy cars will also run carbon brake pads; the use of these long-lasting components may alloy teams to run the entire season optimizing the quantity of components needed.
According to Mauro Piccoli, Brembo's racing market director - who has worked with the company for 10 years, mostly in Formula 1 - Brembo won the contract to work with INDYCAR in competition with other brake manufacturers.
Since Dan Wheldon began testing the new Dallara chassis with Honda power at Mid-Ohio in August, the same set of Brembo brakes has been on the car, a period of more than 1500 miles. "We are aiming for a reliable system for the Indy cars," he told me. "We know the system can work with the high performance of the Indy cars and the different types of racetracks the series visits."
At this point the brakes have over 1500 testing miles on them and are being used in this week's final series test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "I think the IndyCar Series chose Brembo because we have a very fine system that is cost effective. We believe most teams will be able to make it through a season with no more than four sets of brakes."
© 2011 Anne Proffit