New Jersey Motorsports Park Track Guide
In the New Jersey Motorsports Park, the East coast’s elite have an automotive country club to call their own. Wall Street bankers, high society and celebrities head to blow off steam with some fast laps at the track. Now you can join them on a series of days throughout the year set aside for car clubs, bikers, driver schools and general testing.
This is not the traditional race track. It’s a stark and luxurious contrast to the household name tracks we all know and love. Within striking distance of New York City, Atlantic City and Philadelphia, the New Jersey Motorsports Park has turned into a spa break for petrolheads on two wheels and four.
It is a highlight on the calendar for local and national championships and has been since the track opened in 2008. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Grand-Am, Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup, New Jersey Formula Championship, AMA Pro Road Racing, ARCA Racing series and the State historics and Majors all head to the NJMP for race weekends.
The circuit has evolved into a haven for spectators and hosted professional motorsport meetings since 2008, but the private Drivers Club is the core of the NJMP philosophy and that has influenced the entire track.
Best Moments at New Jersey Motorsports Park
This is a club racing circuit. So there have been absolute wars fought here between people you have never heard of, in cars that might not even register. These races were fought wheel-to-wheel not for the public glory, but for private satisfaction of the modern chariot racers.
There have been some headline acts at the NJMP, though, and the greatest moments include:
1. 24 Hours of LeMons
This bizarre race series has turned out at NJMP since 2011 and it remains one of the surprise hits of the racing calendar. Teams spend $500 on a car, make it just about safe and then take it into battle in a 24-hour race.
It’s always a spectacle and some of the cars simply have to be seen to be believed. Any year is a classic, in its own special way. So enjoy the championship’s spectacularly low-budget Youtube coverage that seems somehow fitting.
This is a world away from the high-class world of Le Mans and it's a fun endurance race that has developed a cult following across the United States. New Jersey Motorsports Park is proud to play its part.
2. Slowest Hot Lap Ever
The NJMP has set the scene for a vast number of record attempts and this is one of the more unusual. Journalist Danny Korecki took to the Lightning Circuit behind the wheel of a Ferrari 458 Italia to complete the slowest 'hot laps' ever.
This was a record of semantics, more than true achievement, as the journalist drove the Italian supercar at an average speed of 25mph, setting a new record in the process.
What is Unique About New Jersey Motorsport Park?
This is not just a race track, it is a racing resort.
As well as the track, there’s a world class go-kart facility, clubhouse, The Finish Line pub, tennis courts, a swimming pool and fine dining for when the brakes are cooling and the sun sets over the circuit. A boutique hotel room awaits at the day’s end and this really is a circuit that is set-up for the well-heeled amateur driver.
Drivers Club and Riders Club members pay handsomely for the VIP treatment at this secluded track that overlooks the Maurice River and is surrounded by conservation areas.
Many of the East Coast elite keep their sportscar, motorbike or purpose-built racing cars stationed at the track year-round. A team of world class engineers keep the vehicles fettled, maintained and even polished.
So the owner is free to simply arrive and drive, free from speed limits, tailbacks and local Sheriffs with a new ticket book and a fresh pen. You even get different track lengths and layouts to keep you on their toes, as well as an army of instructors and engineers to help you get the most of your time behind the wheel.
In a world where Big Brother and modern technology are slowly forcing fast driving off the public roads, the New Jersey Motorsports Park is an oasis of high-octane thrills. It’s one of the last true licenses to drive on the East Coast and it isn’t just for the elites.
Track rentals are increasingly common, and the circuit hosts a number of America’s leading car clubs, as well as running days the public.
The Skip Barber Racing School and Bertil Roos Racing School also have a home at the New Jersey Motorsports Park and that means anybody and everybody with a basic driving license can climb behind the wheel of a single seater and take on the 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Raceway. Bikers can join the Yamaha Champions Riding School for their own adrenaline rush.
The circuit doesn't have the romance of a Laguna Seca or Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Legends didn't go to war here and we don't have great sporting moments to look back on, but the NJMP has its own unique charm.
Driving in the Shadow of Legends
This facility wasn’t always a race track. Back in the 1940s, more than 1500 young Americans reported for duty to train as fighter pilots at America's First Defense Airport. They trained in the skies above New Jersey before following their destiny in WWII, and the circuit has honored their memory in a subtle way.
The young pilots took control of the P-38 Lightning that gave its name to the shorter race track. Now a P-47 Thunderbolt, one of the few remaining flying aircraft in the world, is stationed at the neighboring Milville Army Air Field Museum and the military tradition has continued with naming rights for the full track.
At Millville Airport, heroes were made. The New Jersey Motorsports Park has taken its place and now a different breed of daredevils come to to test their nerve at one of the East coast's fastest, most challenging race circuits.
Safety Standards at New Jersey Motorsports Park
New Jersey Motorsports Park is a modern motorsports theme park and you can find the likes of international regulation karting track, skidpads and two separate circuits that can be run simultaneously.
Bleachers and spectator areas are dotted round the circuit, but not to the same level as some tracks and that means that the driver safety has been built into the equation in corners with large run-off areas.
New Jersey isn't known for its light touch when it comes to the legislation and the NJMP faces some of the toughest safety regulations in the world to operate as a regular trackday circuit. To satisfy the State, the circuit has had to adopt many of the class-leading safety measures for its circuit, corners and cars even without the demands of motorsport's governing bodies to contend with.
NJMP is pitched at the High Net Worth Individual car enthusiast, too, and their safety is simply a non-negotiable. That same duty of care extends to everybody that walks through the door, whether they are coming for a race weekend or a paintball event.
The circuit has different priorities to active, top-flight motorsport venues, but that affords it opportunities when it comes to safety and the track layout.
How to Drive New Jersey Motorsports Park
The shorter circuit is a faster layout that requires a wholly different set-up and approach, but the lap records are based on the longer, more technical Thunderbolt Circuit. This is 2.25 miles and 14 turns, with a half-mile straightaway.
There's a tough collection of faster bends and a three real leaps of faith as you dive on the brakes and throw the car into a series of fast, sweeping bends over crests and sharp elevation changes that mean you can't always see the exit on the way in. The camber is also maddeningly inconsistent, which turns the circuit into a three dimensional chess match and adds a real challenge.
The first turn features a heavy downhill braking zone. Brake rotors should be glowing as you slow the car from 130mph plus down to 50mph to make the apex. After turn one you’ll climb the hill to turn 2 which is completely blind! Take it slow till you get a feel for the line. Turns 3 and 4 are very fast kinks that require little braking and a lot of courage. Then you get to drift through Turn 5, which rewards a trail-braking entry and a flamboyant, sideways exit. That leads into one of the most daunting corners on the circuit, the long right hander that can break the rear loose at serious speeds. This bend takes real commitment to get right and it's part of a section that requires momentum and a hard-charging attitude. Tread softly here and your lap is already over.
The infield section that follows is either a challenging test of your car's low-speed handling, or a chance to slide your car through each and every low-speed bend in an arcing series of drifts. It depends if you're going for outright speed, or style points.
Turns 11, 11a, and 12 is the most dangerous section of the track. Your speed is climbing rapidly as you approach the front straight and the run off is limited. Definitely leave some room for error especially if it’s your first time to the track or if it has rained recently. Accidently dropping a wheel off the track onto wet grass is an easy way to meet the guardrails.
It isn't long before you're diving back into the high speed action, though, and it's the fast turns that dominate this circuit and bring a hardcore crew of drivers back time after time. It's hard on tires, especially with a heavy car, and your brakes can take a hammering as well before cooling on the long, fast sections.
Get the Inside Track on the NJMP From the Experts
Spencer Taylor might not have big budget video production skills, but he can show you the way round the New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Here he takes on the circuit behind the wheel of his supercharged Ford Mustang and shows just how to attack this challenging track with a step-by-step guide that shows you the best line and provides insider tips from a New Jersey Motorsports Park veteran.
Car Set-Up Tips for New Jersey Motorsports Park
The braking zone at the end of the long first straight and the constant crests, elevation changes and sudden dips in camber can punish a rigid set-up. That's exactly what you want for the fast and sweeping turns that can have a bigger an impact on your laptime.
If you can take those rough few moments, then the car will pay you back when the track smooths out. As always, the set-up is a compromise and it will come down to whether you're chasing the ultimate time and a race win, or you're out to have fun. Winners will suck up the pain and go for the firmer set-up, but they will have to fight the car at times.
The fast sweepers demand an understeer-oriented set-up, too, which again is faster and less entertaining. Dial in too much understeer and it comes at a hidden cost, too, as the front tires scrub constantly and wear out faster. Over a race distance, that could be the difference between victory and defeat.
Best Track Day Club to Drive With
Check out Motorsports Enthusiasts HPDE.
Where to Stay
The whole point of a racing resort is that it has the hotel accommodation, dining facilities and conference center to host everybody from a casual driving fan right through to a Fortune 100 company outing. Luxury is part of the package when you check in to the purpose-built Villas at Breighton that overlook the circuit.
These luxuriously appointed villas give you the chance to wake up to the smell of race fuel in the morning as you get ready for another day on track. VIP suites are also available to those that don't want the full villa experience.
For more information on the on-track accommodation, and where to book, visit the website here.
Alternatively, if you want to combine your visit to the NJMP with a visit to the nearby Vineland, Expedia has a selection of hotels that fit the bill. Check the circuit page before you book, as the owners have negotiated a series of discounts with the local hotels and you might get a better deal if you cut out the middleman.
Where to Eat
The circuit offers a fine dining experience and the Finish Line pub does a spectacular line in Sunday morning Mimosas, as well as basic food. There are plenty of options in the local area, and TripAdvisor has a top 10 restaurant list here.