Steve Scheuring has been in the racing business since 1978 when he began racing snowmobiles and go-karts. In 1997, he created the first truly independent snocross team, soon becoming a trendsetter in the sport after winning the ESPN Winter X Games and taking second and third in the World Championship the same year. Five years ago, he decided to tackle the world of UTV racing. One goal became immediately clear.
“We were the ones that realized in UTV racing that the existing brake system wasn't capable of doing what we wanted it to do. So with our history in the snocross side, we partnered with Hayes to develop and work on a new brake system,” Scheuring said.
With Hayes spearheading the engineering of this new brake system, and the Scheuring Speed Sports team performing extreme, diligent tests, Hayes developed their Sovren brake calipers.
“We learn by data acquisition on the vehicle. Seeing what is going on, what we can’t see, different compounds, different parts – a lot of trial and error. And the cool thing about racing is it accelerates the testing so much compared to what a consumer would go through.
“We get a lot of fast, accurate data that will tell us what worked good and what we need to improve,” Scheuring said. “So it’s a constant effort trying to find that center on the bullseye.”
Scheuring’s team tested Sovren caliper brakes on the very same tracks they race on. This is especially important for UTV brake systems because the terrain they face can vary greatly depending on where the UTV is.
“Dirt is so different depending on where you are in the country. We have clay tracks, we have gravel tracks, we have sand tracks – all of those play a factor in the whole vehicle’s performance,” Scheuring said. “We have our own facility here, but when you go to the track where you actually have the same conditions it tells you: are there rocks getting up in the brake caliper? Is there sand getting in there? What happens when we get full of mud? So all that is real life and then we’ve got the data to confirm it.”
This level of testing has greatly contributed to Hayes Sovren calipers’ ability to withstand intrusions from different types of dirt. While renting a track and traveling with a fleet of UTVs is no small task, Scheuring says it is a “true test” of what the Sovren calipers can do. One example of this intense testing is under the conditions of rain and mud when racers use larger wheel and tire diameters.
“It adds an additional load to the brakes, not to mention the rain and the mud. So we need more braking power because of the leverage of the bigger tire as we're going faster,” Scheuring said. “We've seen longer performance with the Sovren than we have with anything else we've run. So that's been a huge help for us.”
Due to the nature of the track and summer rain, Scheuring’s team can sometimes add at least 80 extra pounds of mud to their UTVs during a race. Cooling ducts and vents can also get plugged up with mud, causing overheating in other brake calipers that struggle to handle the extra weight.
“The caliper itself can’t vent out, so now you have another challenge. So that’s another great test, and that’s where Hayes Sovren brake calipers really shined,” Scheuring said.
With all this dirt and so many parts to account for, UTV racing teams like Scheuring Speed Sports spend a lot of time organizing and cleaning their shops. Hayes took the frequent assembly and disassembly of UTVs into account and made bi-directional calipers that work on both sides of the vehicle. This feature also reduces the number of spare parts UTV drivers need. Rather than stocking parts for four wheels, drivers only need to stock up for two: a front and a rear – or even just one for certain vehicle configurations where the front and rear are the same.
Last year at the Crandon International Off-Road Raceway, Scheuring’s team faced pouring rain and massive amounts of wet clay. Wet clay that, unsurprisingly, ended up plugged and packed into the nooks and crannies of the UTVs.
“Temperatures are at a maximum. That’s part of the element you have to prepare for. The Sovren calipers were an A-plus. I mean, it was great. It was a testimony that everything we’re doing is working,” Scheuring said. “We didn’t have issues with rocks hitting the fittings and breaking them. There are a lot of things you don't think about that happen. And the reason you don’t think about them is probably because we experienced them when we were testing.”
The ability of a brake system to handle heat is vital to its longevity and consistency. Hayes Sovren brake calipers give the driver a solid pedal feel even when temperatures get extreme.
“We've seen testing with other calipers where it’s gotten so hot it's actually melted the seals out of the caliper as we were doing testing. And once one component fails, then the whole system fails. So controlling that heat is huge for making the whole system live,” Scheuring said. “And that's some of the stuff we've tested with Hayes – to make sure you have the right material for the seals, have the right brake fluid in there, so that as you get to those extreme environments, everything works as it should.”
Standing up to heat also helps the brake system live longer, and there are many complicated decisions that go into extending the lifespan of a brake.
“One of the biggest things that helps is efficiency. In the Sovren system, everything works like it’s supposed to,” Scheuring said. “The friction on the pads matches what we need for the rotors. It’s a complete package that’s really become efficient. And that’s what helped it thrive in our industry.”
The distribution of the pads’ friction on the rotors was also a key factor in the engineering of Sovren calipers.
“The pad is making even contact with the rotor all the way across. It’s not pushing one side of the pad into the rotor while the other side is not making contact. It’s the same on the release,” Scheuring said. “So it’s a uniform surface applying maximum brake force with the surface area. And those pressures are crazy. I mean, that’s a lot of pressure.”
Up to 1800 psi to be exact, combined with double-acting pad springs that delivers higher braking capability, and is evenly distributed across the rotors. Hayes used Scheuring’s data to help them decide the proper brake balance between the front and rear depending on the selected piston size.
“We’ve worked extremely hard to help Hayes make this a superior product. To see the passion that Hayes has was just another cool factor,” Scheuring said. “These guys want to succeed, they want to have the best product out there and that alone adds confidence.
“The Hayes system is the best. The Sovren has been proven. It’s been tested. You’ve got the top racers in the world running it now, not only on our team. It’s a no-brainer.”
Scheuring Speed Sports races next at the Crandon International Speedway in the Champ Off-Road Series on June 25 and 26. You can follow the Scheuring Speed Sports team on Instagram: @scheuring_speed_sports. Don’t forget to follow @hayespowersports while you’re there!