New Jersey Motorsports Park Test Update

July 21, 2009
Steve Atlas
Steve Atlas
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Professional-grade speed and an attitude to match, Steve Atlas is the new blood at MotoUSA. Atlas has AMA racing creds that are even more extensive than his driving record.

New Jersey Motorsports Park
New Jersey Motorsports Park hosts AMA Superbike for the first time today and tomorrow for a two-day test. Rider impressions so far have been mixed.

MotoUSA is out at New Jersey Motorsports Park for the two-day AMA team test, which was set in place for the riders to get a feel for the new-to-them track, which most all have never seen before. An added bonus, and our real reason for coming, I am testing Geoff May’s National Guard/Jordan Suzuki American Superbike for a magazine feature (be sure to keep an eye out for that in the next issue!).

While I’ve only got half-a-day of testing in the books due to rain in the AM, and you’re going to have to wait for the magazine to read about the bike, this has given us a firsthand look at the new-to-AMA track, which has received mixed reviews amongst the riders here on Day 1, especially those on Superbikes.

First off, I can tell you the place is nicely paved and the staff is very receptive to rider input and change, which is always a good thing. Where it lacks is in size. Both the width and length of the track is relatively quite small, almost all second and third gear stuff on a Superbike with the exception of the front straight. Run-off and a lack of gravel traps have caused some concern as well, especially in the fast Turn 1 area and coming onto the start/finish straight in which you travel through a very fast chicane and under a bridge, with walls quite close to the either side of the track.

Geoff May just wanted to remind you to 1-800-Go-Guard. He had two third-pace finishes in American Superbike - Road Atlanta.
MotoUSA is here riding the National Guard Suzuki Superbike for an upcoming issue of MotoUSA Magazine!

“It’s a bit small for my taste,” commented Tommy Hayden after the first day on his Yosh Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike. “There’s a couple spots where the walls are a bit close as well. Had they just consulted a few motorcycle people while building the track they could have made it much more bike friendly for the same amount of money instead of having to now hear what we say and make changes – if they do.”

Added Jordan Suzuki’s Aaron Yates: “It’s a fun track I’m sure for track days and riding around, but racing is another story. I’m still not fully up to speed but there are some strange corners and a few spots that need gravel or walls moved back.”

On the other side of the spectrum was Corona Honda’s Neil Hodgson, who put in probably the most laps of any rider during the rain-scattered day and quiet likes the track. “It has a good flow to it and it’s good fun. It’s kind of like a mini-Miller (Motorsports Park),” said the British native after the first day. “I really quite like it, actually. It’s far more of a proper racetrack than some of the places we go to, that’s for sure.”

Hodgson did comment on the lack of run-off in a couple spots, saying that could be “quite sketchy, especially in the wet. It is quite tight and will be a hard track to pass on, for sure, but overall I’m quite happy.”

From my point of view, which was a few seconds off the pace of the big boys, I would agree with Hodgson and say that the track was quite fun as well, though much smaller and tighter than I expected. There are a couple odd corners that feel very car-oriented, especially the long decreasing-radius carousel towards the end, which doesn’t flow well on a motorcycle. As Yates put it, “you’re just hangin’ off the bike for way too long there.”

Neil Hodgson rides the Corona Honda in American Superbike.
Neil Hodgson was one of the few riders to really like NJMP after the first day.

As for safety, gravel is 100% needed in the run-off areas to slow the bikes down before anyone races here. There’s also no doubt the walls are quite close in a lot of spots. In an ideal world they would move a few walls back, but for that to happen before the race the first weekend of September seems like a long shot. As a whole though, there’s no doubt AMA races on far more dangerous tracks and far less flowing ones as well. One can only hope that the track owners will step up with the right modifications to keep the riders safe, as they seem very receptive to change. This only time will tell.

We’ll be back out there tomorrow on the National Guard Suzuki getting more seat-time for the story and if any big news develops we’ll be sure to let you in on it.

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