What do I know? I’m at a brew-pub, immediately following a morning gathering of Porsche people, who’ve had a group tour of a mini gem of a museum housing much of the priceless automotive offspring of that chili cook-off legend from Texas.
And this guy across from me starts sprouting about brake fluid, how most of the products haven’t been updated in years, how some don’t meet DOT standards, how most of the hype is bogus and how he happens to market the best product out there.
And, best of all, just like the Texan’s iconic blue-with-white-stripe cars that conquered the world in the ‘60s, his product is made right here, in the good old US of A.
I mean, I’ve been reading car magazines for 40-something years. I read the Brit magazines. I scour on-line forums. Have I ever seen an article on brake fluid? No. Do I know what this guy is talking about? No.
On the subject of brakes and brake fluid, you can’t stop this guy. “Of course, for ultimate stopping power, it’s all a matter of brake components, your rotor, caliper, the type of pads you use. But, and here’s the point… for better feel, sustained over hard use, like on a track, or even in the twisties, you need quality brake fluid.”
He goes on: “With a quality brake fluid, you won’t stop faster. Brake fluid doesn’t work that way. But, let me give you an example. Say you’re at Laguna Seca, coming out of the Corkscrew, into Turn 11... after a few hot laps…. Will the pedal be there? Do you trust it? If you have any doubts… any… whatsoever, you’re going to brake sooner, and you’re going to be slower.”
So where’s the cred? Who uses it? He tells me he has an exclusive arrangement with an IndyCar team owned by the son of a former Formula 1 world champion.
Do you advertise? “I wish. At this stage, we concentrate on demonstrating the product, and building word of mouth. But I have a website.”
Don’t we all.
Why’s your product so good? “I’m not a chemist. But I’ve done my homework. About 10 years ago, I started looking for a product to market specifically to the car enthusiast. And I realized that nobody approached brake fluid in a performance context, as a stand-alone product. I approached a global chemical company that has an OE automotive division, and we came up with another product, and I started the business.”
What happened? “Oh, the product was great - a very high boiling point - over 610 degrees F - with low compressibility. We were the supplier to a precursor IndyCar team. But we had legal problems with a distributor/investor, and everything fell apart.
“But I’m back. Thanks to my work with the chemical company, my new product is even better.”
What do other race teams use? “Castrol SRF, AP600. IndyCar, Formula 1, NASCAR too.” Have you approached them? “F1 wants you to make a significant investment, or they won’t talk to you. NASCAR‘s on the to-do list, but I really like road racing.”
And the high performance street driver? The canyon carver? The weekend track junkie? “If they’ve ever put in their own brake fluid, rather than left it to the dealer, it’s usually ATE Super Blue. And that’s a lot of the challenge. They think that’s fine for them. So, why change? Why spend the money for a premium product? What I’m saying is that there’s a whole other level of reliability in performance braking that you can only get with a product like mine. And, to make matters worse, there’s a lot of mis-information out there, too, about what other products can do.”
So where do you go from here? “Failure is not an option. The product is gaining momentum. And I’ve got a number of distributors signed up, with more to come.
“The potential is huge, because the performance market is huge. Just take Porsches. How many aftermarket exhausts, specifically for Porsche, are out there? Tires? Wheels? Short shift kits? Turbo kits? Suspension pieces? My goal is to get the enthusiast to think of brake fluid the same way.”
How? “Word of mouth. But I’d also like to be the approved fill for a hyper-handler, something like an Ariel Atom….”
Oh yeah, lunch…. I stare down at my hamburger, as all-American as they come… like brake fluid. Who knew?