"Nothing beats repetition and seat time. This is not a sport that requires “book learning” skills. This sport requires hours behind the wheel until your awareness becomes acute. Nobody stops learning in this sport.”
New Jersey Motorsports Park
by Ziva & Michael Allen
The New Jersey Motorsports Park has quickly risen to become one of the Northeast’s most popular destinations for track day drivers. NJMP offers a complete experience for enthusiasts, whether you're just beginning, you’ve been at this sport for many years and looking to hone your skills or simply heading out with the family and looking for a fun day for all.
Brad Scott, COO and General Manager of NJMP, recently told us that, “New Jersey Motorsports Park offers many options to drivers as we offer two road courses. We have the Thunderbolt Raceway and the Lightning Raceway. Our Thunderbolt track includes 2.25 miles of asphalt, 12 challenging turns, a one half mile straightaway and approximately 40 acres of full service paddock space. Our northern track, Lightning Raceway, is a 10 corner circuit which includes 1.9 miles of asphalt. It is fast and challenging and features some of the most interesting and dramatic corner and elevation changes in the park.”
Pete Tremper, Chief Instructor for the NJMP Drivers Club, appreciates the two-course unique advantage that NJMP has over other race track facilities. “Because there are two distinct tracks on the same property that are completely different, we feel drivers can bolster their experience here at NJMP.” If you are heading to NJMP and want to prepare prior to your run, we are fortunate to get Tremper’s input about the differences in the two road courses. “Thunderbolt is about 0.3 mile longer than the lightning track. In my highly prepared 1990 911 Porsche, the Lightning track is 20 seconds faster than Thunderbolt. That is an immense time differential. Lightning is fast and sweeping whereas Thunderbolt has a fast first five turns and a very technical last half of the course.”
Tremper goes on to explain that “Thunderbolt drives 'narrow.' In other words, all of the turns require late apexes and the curbing must be used to give wider path through the turns. Turn two is a signature turn for this course. It has a blind uphill right-hand turn that requires a subtle unwinding at apex. With enough nerve, you are flat from the exit of turn one until the breaking for turn four, with a quick lift entering turn two. There are only three hard breaking areas: Turn one, Turn five and Turn nine. The remaining turns are either flat or slight riding of the brakes before entering the turn. Lightning is the antithesis of Thunderbolt. Lightening is fast and sweeping with a great left-hand turn at Turn seven. The key to this track is the attack of Turns two through four. This is accomplished with a fast sweeping maneuver eliminating Turn three.”
Like many tracks throughout the country, NJMP offers many club HPDE events such as SCCA, Ferrari Club, NASA, PCA, BMW, Povoledo Track Days, NE Audi and Hooked on Driving, to name a few. “However, for private track time,” says Scott, “we offer the opportunity to join our private track membership called the Drivers Club. This includes up to 35+ days of member only exclusive driving on our racetrack.”
“The NJMP Member Days are run as most club HPDE days,” says Tremper. “The day is split into run groups based on driver ability and experience. An instructor is provided for the less experienced drivers. The novice drivers follow a pace car, which uses the progressive pace lap technique. Each session the pace car speed is increased to match the driver's ability. No one is left behind. The main straight is a 'catch up' area. We teach the student to master the art of cornering - not simply straight away speed. My role as chief instructor is to provide a great experience for our members every day they come to the facility. I make sure that enough instructors are available for our members who have been assigned to the novice and/or beginner groups. We also designed a Member Instructor Training program which allows members to give 'instructional rides' to friends and/or clients.”
Tremper explains that the main difference between Member Days and third party organization events is track density. “Member days are usually five cars per mile or less. In fact, the novice group rarely has over four cars on the track whereas a Porsche Club day could have a novice group density of ten to twelve cars per mile.”
Says Scott, “New Jersey Motorsports Park offers daily event and VIP garages at the Thunderbolt Raceway. Shade Tree Garages are available for monthly or yearly rentals. For private ownership garages, our recently completed Exotic Car Garages offer 500 square feet to 1,500 square feet of private luxury homes for your prized possession. These private condos offer opportunities for work place, decks overlooking the racetrack, lofts, private restrooms/showers and kitchenettes.”
To join the Drivers Club at New Jersey Motorsports Park, you can call their membership director at (856) 327-7201 or submit your request online at http://www.njmp.com/drivers-club/. Click here to check out their schedule: http://www.njmp.com/drivers-club/2015-drivers-club-njmp-schedule/.
Tremper’s driving career started very young! “At age nine I built my first lawn mower engine powered go-kart, which was in the mid- nineteen fifties,” says Tremper. “My last go-kart built before street licensing was powered by a 50 HP Indian motorcycle engine and would approach speeds of over 100 MPH. After receiving a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Virginia, I was hired by the DuPont Company as a Research Chemist in the Automotive Paint Division. My first laboratory partner was a Porsche 'nut' and he got me hooked on Porsches. Over the years my wife and I have collected six historic Porsches - although they were not historic when we bought them - just used Porsches. My first HPDE event was at Lime Rock Park in 1980 with my 1969 912. Since that fateful day I have logged hundreds of thousands of track miles in my 914-6 and presently with my 1990 911. Also, for the last 14 years I was the Chairman of the HPDE program for the Porsche Club of America.
“I approach HPDE instruction as one would approach a client in the business world. I want to make this experience one of the best of their lives to date. If they leave the day with a smile, I have done my job. I look for the same in my instructors. They do not have to be the fastest drivers on the track, but they must have good interpersonal skills and the ability to correct in a positive manner.”
When we asked Tremper to give us his take on how he assesses a driver’s improvement, he said that, “I think assessing how a driver improves can be difficult, other than to say many of the drivers I 'play' and race with were at one time my students. Nothing beats repetition and seat time. This is not a sport that requires 'book learning' skills. This sport requires hours behind the wheel until your awareness becomes acute. Nobody stops learning in this sport.”
Tremper is quick to recognize that this sport can be quite addicting. “Therefore,” he says, “my advice to a novice is to be prepared to eventually have a dedicated track car which requires a trailer and a tow vehicle. As you start in this sport with a high performance street car, you will probably end up with three more vehicles - BUT the 'fun factor' is hard to measure, except with smiles.”
We love learning from coaches their advice to those just starting out and we asked Tremper how he would prepare someone coming to the track for the first time. “The best advice I can give novice drivers at their first event is to relax and enjoy the day. Leave your egos behind and listen to your instructor. The advantage of HPDE driving is that it is geared to street driven automobiles. As one progresses through the skill levels in this sport, the car tends to become less 'streetable' and more 'trackable.' As a novice driver, I would focus on safety first. Improve the braking ability of the car by installing higher temperature brake fluid and use specifically designed racing brake pads for your vehicle. As the student progresses in skill level, the car follows suit. Harness system, race seats and roll hoops or cages are all a natural progression.”
When we asked Tremper to recommend the ideal track car, his excellent advice would be to "purchase one you can afford. I am a Porsche guy so I would recommend a Boxster or a 944.”
And finally, we’re also looking for modification advice. “Modifications…modifications. Great question!" says Tremper. "I would first make sure the driver is safe so when and if he/she runs out of talent and exits the track, the driver must be protected. Proper 5/6 point harness, proper seat for the harness and an SA helmet equipped with a HANS device are all a must. Fire suppression system installed in the vehicle and a 'kill switch' for the engine are also very important. My advice is to first make sure the driver is safe. Once the driver is safe, then you can proceed with the normal car modifications.”
"NJMP also runs monthly open track days for the general public,” says Scott, “ranging from paced beginner laps to advanced driving. Our track operations team along with our track instructors provide support, guidance and coaching for all participants. And once a month we host our Cruise Nights at the Finish Line Pub. This special night allows you to display your vehicle at the car show and then take a two lap drive following our pace car on our road course.”
Keep in mind that if you are just starting out and want to dip your toes in before taking the plunge, NJMP partners with Track Cars 4 Rent at http://www.trackcar4rent.com/.
NJMP isn’t just a track. It is an all-around premier motorsports entertainment facility that includes a karting track with three different configurations, private Exotic Car Garages, the Breighton Clubhouse/Pool/Restaurant, and Villa Condominiums on over 500+ acres. “NJMP offers great off track activities and team building events as well,” says Scott, “including karting at Tempest Raceway, paintball at Battlegrounds Paintball, dining at the Finish Line Pub, VIP Suites/Hotel Rooms and a General Store for all of your personal, racing or merchandise needs.”
Finally, if you and/or your family are going to make a weekend trip out of your track experience, NJMP offers overnight accommodations at the VIP Suites/Hotel Rooms, Villa which are three bedroom, two level townhouses and RV/Tent Camping at their VIP Clubhouse or Front Straightaway Camp Zones. NJMP's exclusive hotel partner, Tower Hospitality offers several hotel options within a short commute of the track.
New Jersey Motorsports Park is located in Millville, New Jersey. The City of Millville offers a vibrant "Main Street” dining location along with many other destinations throughout Cumberland County. Visit the website below to see all of the attractions the City of Millville and Cumberland County have to offer to make the best of your HPDE experience! http://www.millville-nj.com/
Here is an in-car video around Thunderbolt: