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Which to pick for my first time at NJMP - Lightning or Thunderbolt? :shift:

(Doing both on different days will double my insurance, so sticking with one for both days)
 

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I have raced both. Lightning is not only more fun, but is faster, and maybe even more technical. For me it is Lightning hands down.
 

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I have raced both. Lightning is not only more fun, but is faster, and maybe even more technical. For me it is Lightning hands down.
Thanks Kyle. I'm at Lightning on Sunday, couldn't get both days for my run group.
 

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I haven't run thunderbolt yet, just lightning. You really think lightning is more challenging and technical? I'm a newbie, but it just looks straighter. Well, I guess that makes faster turns.
 

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OK, here is my turn by turn impression of both as well as the overall impression. Keepin mind I raced both courses in my Lotus Type 61mX Formula Ford, and the event are from 8/08 and 9/08, and therefore subject to fading memory and glorification.

I first drove Thunderbolt when SVRA drove there. It is not that I did not like the track but the fun factor was lower than Lightning and there ae some annoying aspects.

Thunderbolt: After a verylong straight, which at leat will let you get to a really high terminal spped, you enter Turn 1 which is a bit featureless and is reall not much more than a standard mid apex turn. A short bit of acceleration out of the exit and then braking into Turn 2 which is really quite good as it is uphill and to the right with a blind apex. There is plenty of track out so you can go faster than you think, but you'll have to slowly get there. Turn 3 seemed flat, but I found out it wasn't when I finally got Turn 2 fast enough and ran off the road on Turn 3. Turn 3 is fast and sweeping, my kind of turn so I like it. Then a short srtaight with a hump in the middle that will lighten the car, so make sure you are straight when you go over it. Turn 4 is a really good turn for me. It is flat, but most drivers don't do it flat because the next turn is a slow Left and they 1 - run out of room and have to brake heavy, 2 - mistakenly think they need to be wat over to the right to turn into Turn 5. It is my passing spot of choice for a race situation because I could consistantly make up distance and carry more speed into the braking zone and pass braking into Turn 5, but probably a little iffy for a track day becuase the other drivers probably won't expect it and you are not racing. Turn 5 is a left hand no feature standard tuen. Turn 6 is a bit difficult becuase it is hard to judge where to break and by how much and when to turn in. Small adjustments result in huge differences on exit. I found it annoying, probablu because I found it difficult. When I became consistant I consistantly found I didn't go fast enough, but when I tried to go faster it was all arms and elbows at the exit. Then a short straight into what the NJMP people refer to as Octopus but I refer to as Carousel Grande and Carousel Petite. It looks great on the track map but I found very few people who liked it and many like myself dislike it. The radii are variable and you have to brake at the end of Grande to set up Petite, but you can't brake it a straight line. Then with Petite, if you take what appears to be the visiual line you will wash out to the outside. If you go too muchinside it is slow. If you do it right you can set up a nice four wheel drift comin out(which is the only saving grace of the whole complex). Once out of Petite you are in the esses, which are similar to the esses at VIR in that you continually accelerate through them and have to time shifts so they occur at exactly the right spot in the cars transition from one side to the next. The final turn is very fast - I was in top gear and flat in the FF. YOu have to apex way to the right ans it is rough in that spot. If a faster car is passing you there and you don't apex way to the right you'll really screww up the turn and lose a lot of speed down the straight, and possibly go off at exit. The straight is very fast, but boring, becuase the last turn is so fast that, in the FF at leat, you are almost at terminal velocity at exit.

My biggest complaint about Thunderbolt is lack of natural rhythm. Perhaps it is the more technical track and more difficult to learn than Lightning so I have a lesser impression, but the consensus of those who have driven both is that Lightning is better.

On to Lighting:

Coming down the front straight you are very fast and get to a braking zonw for Turn 1. Turn 1 on Lightning is similar to Turn 2 on Thunderbolt, but it is much faster and you are going much faster when you brake. Finish braking before turn in (trail braking up the hill is much slower), then turn in and accelerate up the hill. Much less track out thean Turn 2 at Thunderbolt. At track out the track immediately starts a decent towards Turns 3 and 4. For both of those Turns there is braking, down a gear (in a FF), turn, then a short acceleration. It cna be difficult to time it right but it does have a flow to it once figured out. Same fot Turn 5 - the slowest turn on the track, but there is more acceleration and track after Turn 5. Turn 5 is also decepetively faster than it seems. Turn 6 is a really nice turn as there is eleveation change and the apex is out of view. After the apex the track goes off camber so the car really slides to the left, but there is tons of room so you can do it really fast, but it takes some time to learn it so creep up on the speed. After Turn 5 there is a straight with a kink and under the bridge for a pretty textbook 90 degree left, Turn 6. There were several off by other drivers at this turn in the event I participated in. I don't know why becuase it seemed pretty easy. Perhaps it was racing incident that occured when driver attempted passing and ended up off line. Anyway, a warning. After Turn 6 a flat sweep to what the track refers to as lightbulb This is a really fast banked turn that has both high and low lines and is a good place to pass slower cars, providing they are not stacked up in multiple grooves a la NASCAR. I took it with a middle entry, then a slow decent to the apex then track out to the exit curbing. Once exited you must drift back to the right. There is a bit of uphill elevation change and the road kinks to the right after the crest. If you stay to the left after the exit you will quickly run out of track when you crest. Since the lightbulb is so fast the straight is very fast as well but there is less time at full speed since the straight is shorter.

Others are welcome to offer their own impressions.
 
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