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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone driven this new track in NJ?

Can anyone provide a full detail turn-by-turn description?

Thanks.
 

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Sorry - I've had a number of days on the Lightning Circuit at New Jersey Motorsports Park already but there have been precious few opportunities for the unclean masses ;) to sample their Thunderbolt Circuit. I went over there last Tuesday to check it out (I was with SCDA on the Lightning again) and it looked pretty narrow from what I could see from the infield. I was going to go to the Grand-Am race there this weekend but frankly the place doesn't look like it is ready for a pro race: no grass anywhere - just dirt; few grandstands and they weren't even assembled yet. Maybe next year.

Would love to hear your thoughts on how the Elise handles the Thunderbolt though so please post back after you've done it.
 

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i had the chance to watch some bmws navigate thunderbolt. quite a few off's ive had a few days at lime rock. ive seen no more the 2 or 3 off a full day there. at thunderbolt i saw 5 off s in one session. and heard a bout a few more .... maybe because its a new track? i dont know.

when i did the parade lap on thunder bolt, it was nice, i enjoyed the up hill after the straight. and the right hander into the dip. the cork screw was tighter then it looked
 

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quite a few off's ive had a few days at lime rock. ive seen no more the 2 or 3 off a full day there. at thunderbolt i saw 5 off s in one session. and heard a bout a few more .... maybe because its a new track? i dont know.
That's quite typical of a new track as everyone is still learning it.
 

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Old M6 video

YouTube - NJMP Thunderbolt - BMWCCA should show the line pretty well. This was by a guy in an 80's M6, pretty nice ride and nice guy too. He was in my run group that weekend.

I was one of the offs on Friday, going into turn one too hot. Nothing hurt but the ego.

Track is good fun and almost all of the turns can carry more speed than you'd think at first. Slowly finding this limit would help you avoid my mishaps. Also the apex cones were all in dramatically incorrect locations since the instructors were new to the course as well. Some were as much as 8 feet off. Some short, some long.

Who are you running with when you are there?

Adam
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I have signed up with PDA/NASA for that day.

Great, these are just the videos I need to prepare. I got the course map from the NJMotorsports site already. Now with the video's I can learn the course before I get there.
 

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That track was awesome, Thunderbolt is a really good track for Lotus, no endless straight, 14 curves in 2mi.
I had great fun!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thunderbolt turn-by-turn analysis

I participated in a track day with Performance Drivers Association/NASA at a new track called Thunderbolt at the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, New Jersey on October 15, 2008. There is another track at this facility called Lightning which will have to wait until next time. I was driving my 2005 Lotus Elise (Storm Titanium/red leather, touring pack, hardtop, starshield, no LSD) in stock form on Yokohama Advan Neova AD07 tires (lowered to 26/28, but heating to 31/31, a little too high). I drive with the top off to enjoy the rare open-top racing experience. My instructor timed me at 1:53-4 for a few laps, but I was coasting here and there. PDA/NASA runs a great day, relaxed, but on time. I have run with them several times now at Pocono, Watkins Glen and now Thunderbolt. I like the whole organization – they make this so easy. Register on line, show up and have fun. Helpful assistance and cooperation from all involved and plenty of qualified instructors available, plus a little classroom time. Passing allowed with a point by on either side on each of the 5 straight areas. The following is a turn-by-turn discussion of the new Thunderbolt track. The track is brand new and is still undergoing fine tuning and modifications. The Daytona prototypes have run here recently. The track is a little narrow, mostly very smooth, with ample runoff areas in most places. Some elevation changes. Well, here goes:

Turn #1: This is a broad right turn, taken in 3rd gear at the end of the main straight. At the end of the straight I was regularly seeing 120 mph, and I’m a little slow. But I never had a problem finding the braking zone, it was smooth and easy. The Lotus is so light, the braking is so good, that I feel liek I always brake too early. I could see the apex cone and the track out cone well and could probably have used more speed here. I have a theory that on the right day, in the right car with the right driver, you could stay flat out from this apex all the way around to turn 4. If that is true, then this is an important turn since it establishes your speed for the entire back straight. There is runoff room on the outside but I never saw anyone blow it, although some gravel was on the surface from the pit out on the inside of the turn. This is followed by a short straight to turn #2. One stays well to the left from track out, all the way to the turn #2 turn in point.

Turn #2: This has to be the most interesting turn on the course. The apex of this right hander is at the top of a rise in the track. This results in a totally blind exit. This is a fast turn, that can be taken at almost full throttle, you are still accelerating from the exit of turn #1. So, the first time, you hug the apex till you see it, then slowly each lap, you realize that you can just really drive completely across the track with minimal turn in because the road will be there when you get there. I am teaching my 16 year old son to drive and I tell him, “if you can’t see, you can’t go” – a rise, a curve, fog, etc. But, in this case, you can go and go fast. I got to the point where I just kind of released the car and it would just smoothly track out. This turn is followed by a short straight and I shift into 4th gear on my way to turn #3. Stay to the left on the short straight.

Turn #3. This is little more than a right hand kink. If I was fast, or brave, I think I would be flat out here. However, the exit is downhill and it tricks your eyes a little, so I was touching the apex and then shifting my eyes well down the track to the left side of the uphill section just ahead, rather than focusing on the actual track out point. This worked well for me and I was able to increase my speed here throughout the day. My instructor, Joe, said he had an off in his Corvette here at the track out point for no known reason. My opinion would be that he needed to focus well down the track to the up-hill section as a better track out focal point. Then, it’s stay left, go down hill a little, then up hill a little on the straight to turn #4, which you can’t see until you come up the rise and over the top. My car was never upset over the tops of the small hills – not a factor

Turn #4: After watching lots of in-car videos and looking at the track map, I thought this was a 90 degree right hander and that I had to whoa it down a lot, but then I found that I could carry lots of speed through this turn and then leave most of my braking on the short straight after. Then, during a break, I looked at my aerial photos and saw that this was actually just a kink also. You could not carry all of your straightaway speed through here, but you can keep 70-80% of it. So, that’s 4 right handers, from slow, then faster then fastest, then a little less on the last one. On all of these turns, use the entire road and touch the outside, inside then outside. Smooth.

Turn #5: I would double-clutch heel and toe down into this nice left-hander, a little tighter than 90 degrees, but smooth. After braking after #4, you are on the left side so you need to slow down and get all the way over to driver’s right here to your turn-in point. I used all of the track, touch the apex and got on the gas earlier and earlier, drifting right out to the marker. Then straight down to #6. In my car, I stay in 3rd all the way around to the middle of the front straight

Turn #6: About a 90 degree right, smooth and you can carry a lot more speed than you think, but it’s easy to put a wheel off the outside at track out here. No problem, though – there is lots of room out there. Stay on the left to #7.

Turns #7 and #8: This is a very strange place. Unlike anything I have seen. They call it the “head of the octopus”! You start out normally, turning right from the turn in point on drivers left. But then, some cars hug the inside, some touch an invisible apex and drift out, some cars stay high on the outside. There is no banking, it is flat. All the way around the clock from 1 o’clock, to 8 o’clock, just waiting and then you see this cone on the outside, drivers left and aim for it, braking at the last moment before you run straight off, then pull it hard to the right towards the turn in point for the following very slow, very long, left. The whole idea is to get in the best position for this next cone, since it is the start of the long from straight. There was no passing allowed here and if there was, people and cars would be all over the place. It is very wide and it would be sheer chaos with all of the possibilities available. I don’t know which is the faster line – shorter distance & slower speed, or wider arc, longer distance and higher speed. What line did the Daytona Prototypes professional drivers take? It is not really important to a good time since it is the slowest part of the track. Very unusual with no clear consensus. What would

Turn #9: So, from turn in at driver’s right you slowly wind it around to the left, DO NOT APEX TOO EARLY, WAIT, WAIT, WAIT, WAIT, then bring it left to the apex cone and you will have a great entry on to the long front straight. Don’t unwind all the way to the right on exit since it will put you in poor position for the first right hand ess curve. Instead, stay in the middle, full throttle, on the cam hard from here, touch the apex in the first ess on the right, and then the second ess on the left, shift into 4th, stay on the cam and then a slight right hand kink on to the main straight. There is some cement curbing on the inside, you can put 2 wheels on it to straighten it out and then use all the track out to the left and take a deep breath, check your gauges, wave by if necessary and bring it up to about 120+ down the front straight towards turn #1. Then repeat again and again. Smoother, earlier throttle, later braking, smoother.


Dislikes:
Most of the paddock is grass, dirt and mud.
No garage space available.
Concession stand prices.
Hard to view entire track from anywhere.
Drivers who don’t give a quick point by
Some patches in the track already
No umbrella girls
$25 T-shirts/hats
no spectator areas
nasty flies

Likes:
The Lotus
Air hose available.
Concession stand.
Close to home (Philly).
The flat serrated “curbs” are easy to touch on the outside and inside of each turn and don’t upset the car.
Mostly smooth track
gas at the track
Clean
Clean new bathrooms – one soap dispenser has an industrial gritty soap for removing oil & grease
Race equipment shop
My new GoPro Hero video cam – it stays stuck on. I’m goon stick it in my motorcycle, and bike, and kayak, and sailboat and ski helmet, etc.
Lot’s of stores and places to eat in the town nearby.
 
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