Fun at the NJMP Tracks!
I am an Drivers Club Member of NJMP located in Millville, NJ. I am extremely passionate about both racing and tracking. They are two very different things. When I track, It’s meditation for me. I relax and focus on smoothness and consistency. In a race, I’m out to be as fast as possible within my talent level.
I spend 25 days at NJMP a year since in 2012, mostly with Drivers Club Member days, and some SCCA races. It’s my home away from home. I feel like I know every blade of grass by name off of each turn by now, and they all tell me, “hey Spencer, you’re off apex again, what are you thinking?” or “hey Spencer, you call that a heel – toe? That was pathetic!” Especially Harry off to the left of turn 4 on Thunderbolt. One of these days, I’m getting out the car and ripping his ass out of the ground!
Despite the condescending blades of grass, I fell in love with the track the very first time I drove on it! At NJMP we are fortunate enough to have two tracks to play on. I competed in 9 races during the 2012 season at NJMP with the SCCA. I believe it was August 19 / 20 of 2012 that the temperature was a mere 96 degrees ambient, perhaps 130 degrees plus on the track, and 170 degrees in the race car… It was the first time I ever flat-spotted a tire. I remember it vividly. I was braking hard for turn 7 on Lightning, and I felt like I was skating on hot butter! Needless to say, during the Qualifying Race I absolutely destroyed that tire, the passenger rear, and did not realize it until I got off the track! I was heading to the scales for weigh-in, and the tech guys A.K.A. the “Men In Black” were screaming, “you have no rear tire left!” Oh well, at least I made weight 😉
Lightning is a really fast 1.9 mile track that has some tricky turns. There is a giant bowl at the end of the circuit that leads, like a slingshot, onto the straight. I lovingly refer to it as “The Tire Shredder.” Why? The degree of camber is so high, that it absolutely rips the snot out of your tires every time you go through it. Many a tire has given its life on this very bowl. The tires don’t like discussing it. It’s like suicide for them.
Thunderbolt is my favorite, because it offers more twists and a more technical layout. Speaking of tire-shredding adventure, there is “The Jersey Devil,” an area of turns that begins parallel to the Villas off to the the left of the track after turn 7, coalescing into a strange right turn that has no official “race line” to it feeding into a very short straight section, culminating with a tire-shredding carousel into more twists and out onto the straight. This is another area that the tires refuse to discuss. Honestly, I think it’s better for them that way.
Here is an oriented view of each track. This is the layout of the approximately 1.9 mile Lightning circuit. The large loopy area on the right is the aforementioned tire-shredding bowl. My fondest memory may be taking Inferno Mustang to 157 MPH on the straight before chickening out to make turn 1. I didn’t realize I hit that speed until I looked at the data from my GPS. Then I felt better about being a chicken…
Let’s take a gander at Thunderbolt on the map. As you can readily see, Thunderbolt is a far more technical, and longer track at 2.25 miles. Some racers don’t care for the circuit because it has a strange layout and relatively few passing opportunities – for sane people; however, I believe that only adds to its charm. Thunderbolt was also used in 4 consecutive Grand-Am events from 2009 – 2012. The track was unfortunately dropped from the 2013 schedule. Hopefully, after the new merger of ALMS and Grand-Am, Thunderbolt will be added to the schedule again.