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Sometimes YouTube suggests the damndest things. The other day mine finally brought me to Garage 54, a group of Russian dudes who do ridiculously cool car science experiments so the rest of us can see the results from the safety of our computers. This time, they get brake rotors glowing hot with no protection just to see what would happen when they quench them with water. Shockingly, the results are informative and mechanically gruesome and nobody got hurt.

From the onset, I love that these guys have a casual turbo V8 A80 Toyota Supra drift car with which to do the experiments on. This is the sign of good science, I think. Certainly, we can check “powerful enough to roast brakes” off of the list. 

The Garage 54 crew conducts its tests with two different brake rotors on one side of the car. They used a nearly expired used rotor and a brand new one to see how the two would react to extreme heat and the extreme heat cycling of dousing the glowing cast iron with water. Quenching is just that: dunking hot metal in water. Think of a swordsmith dipping a glowing blade from a forge into a stone bucket.

Wisdom would say that the ferrous material wouldn’t have the time to slowly cool and maintain its structure, causing cracks to form from uneven cooling. Brake rotors need time to heat and cool evenly, or else they will easily warp. Luckily, these guys are armed with a laser thermometer to measure the heat of the brake rotors in celsius. They make early attempts to bring the rotors up to certain temperatures, and seeing how they cool down naturally and with quenching.

Pushing the brake rotor hard. Garage 54 Youtube

It’s all quite scientific for the first few heat cycles, getting the rotors decently hot and glowing a light red until we take a hard left and start pushing the limits of the entire brake system on the rear wheel. I almost got lightheaded at how quickly these dudes started just running these brakes at full tilt, with a white-hot rotor spinning at 50 miles per hour a few feet away, with not much personal protection equipment in sight. I’m not sure if I should applaud the bravery or admonish these dudes for doing this. 

It doesn’t change the fact that this is fascinating. We only ever see these sorts of brake system tests on random videos of racing-spec brake test dynos. Here we have some dudes getting after it on their own. Again, not sure if I should celebrate it but it is cool to watch.

The results of this merciless mechanical brawl are brutal. Both sets of rotors are utterly destroyed. The part where I truly lost it was when large cracks were appearing on the rotors after some heat cycles and they continued to absolutely send it with the cracks. These weren’t the normal light surface cracks from track driving, these were thick, rotor-splitting cracks. I’m amazed a rotor didn’t fly apart in this video, sending molten metal all over the shop.

Needless to say, don’t do this at home. But I will say: watch this video. It’s a curiosity. I’m not sure we’ll see another one like it.

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