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Wilwood Brakes Upgrade: 1971 Dodge Demon

Brake Job - What it takes to get stopped at the end of the track.

By , Photography by

Wilwood Brakes has been making brakes since 1977 and currently has 250 different brake kits that cover more than 1,000 models. When you search "drag race" on its website, 52 brake kits appear, all looking more badassed than the next. The options will spin your head. Out of kindness, we are going to break the selection process down so you can have some useful information when you call Wilwood Brakes for your kit. Knowing the wheel size, rearend type, how much the car weighs, and what it is going to be used for will take a lot of the hassle out of this decision. Use this article to stop the merry-go-round.

Wheel Size

The size of your wheel dictates the size of the rotor and caliper you will be using. If you are using a 15-inch or smaller wheel, you need a 12-inch or smaller brake rotor that comes in the Dynalite brake kit. If the wheel is larger than 17 inches, you can use a 13-inch-or-larger-diameter rotor that comes in the Superlite kit. The Dynapro caliper line is for late-model Camaros, Challengers, Mustangs, imports, and other specialty applications. The killer-looking dual-caliper Wilwood brake kits are for dragsters with no front brakes and big, sticky tires in the rear that handle all the braking.

Drag Racing vs. Street Driving

Wilwood's Drag Race Kit applies to a dedicated race car that lives on a trailer and weighs less than 2,800 pounds. The Wilwood brake kits come with a 3⁄8-inch steel rotor instead of a vented cast-iron one. The difference is the cast-iron rotor's ability to absorb and dissipate energy without overheating. Cooking a rotor will lead to warps and cracks and will require replacement. The steel drag-race rotor is designed to stop the car at the end of the racetrack with a long cooldown period in between. The street kit with a cast-iron rotor is only 5 pounds heavier than the steel-rotor race kit, but the life and longevity of the system increase dramatically. Don't be a hero; if you have a heavy drag car or plan to be on the street, go for the street kit—it will handle more heat. Take it from Wilwood Brakes expert Dustin Burr, "You would be surprised how many starts and stops you will have on the way to the burger joint. Get the street kit for a car driven on the street."

Wilwood Brake Rotors: Vented vs. Drilled

A vented rotor has an air gap between the two pad contact surfaces, usually with fins or paddles that move fresh air to cool the braking system. Drilling is primarily used to lighten the rotor, and, in theory, makes a difference in heating and cooling characteristics, but not enough to replace a vented rotor on the street. The dedicated Drag Race brake kits are only drilled, not vented.

Wilwood Brake Calipers

The Dynalite kit has a four-piston caliper, and the Superlite has a six-piston caliper. Dynalite kits have smaller rotors and are intended to fit smaller wheels, therefore require a smaller caliper that uses four pistons. This also keeps the weight down. "There is no Superlite drag kit; everyone uses a 15-inch wheel, and that means 11-inch rotor, "Burr says.

The Dodge Demon

Using this knowledge, we narrowed our choice down to the Wilwood Brakes Forged Dynalite Drag Kit. It came with a forged aluminum hat, 3⁄8-inch-thick steel rotor, four-piston Dynalite calipers, brackets, pads, and hardware. We have a dedicated front subframe on the Dodge Demon, but if you have an A-body ('65–'72), Wilwood Brakes make a kit for stock front spindle. If you have an 83⁄4 rearend, the same is true —you just need to have the wheel size, housing flange and offset, and intended use determined when you call Wilwood. That will put you way ahead.


Description PN Source Price
7⁄8-inch master cylinder kit 260-10374 Wilwood 79.58 each (2)
Staging lock SUM-760000 Summit Racing 66.95
Brake line kit (front/rear) 6326 Chassisworks 265.00
Forged Dynalite rear drag brake kit 140-8853-D Wilwood 506.89
Forged Dynalite front brake kit 140-2713-BD Wilwood 668.74
Pedal assembly 340-1285 Wilwood 112.95

Bed Bugs

We asked Dustin Burr at Wilwood if there was any difference in bedding drag brakes and street brakes. Here is what he said:

"Bedding drag brakes are a little different, as you don't want to get enough heat into the rotor to warp it or crack it, so tread lightly. Start with a couple of low-speed decelerations, say 20 mph to 5 mph, then a couple of higher speed decelerations, 50 mph to 5 mph, then cool the brakes down by driving without touching the brakes. This can be tough to do in a drag car, especially if it's not at all streetable. The good news is that the pads included in our drag kits require little bedding, nothing like our oval-track or road-racing pads that need to see 800 degrees for final curing."

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