Tag Archives: Thunderbolt

MotoAmerica Superbike Challenge of New Jersey at NJMP Thunderbolt

It’s been a few years since I’ve marshaled Superbikes at NJMP, but this weekend was amazing thanks to a new friend I made during Trans Am weekend that invited for this season finale.

There’s been a few changes since the last time. AMA Superbikes has been rebranded as MotoAmerica. And as such has improved tremendously in my opinion. One of the biggest contributing factors to this success I think is it’s affiliation with the global organization FIM… the MotoAmerica rep that we work directly with as flaggers proudly wore an FIM North America badge on his sleeve, along with AMA (which is still a thing, apparently) as a sanctioning body.

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 24

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 19

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 20

Unlike the last time though, there were far fewer marshals… both flaggers and recovery it seemed. That said NJMP as an organization seemed very much more appreciative of the people that showed up.

I was lucky enough to work at Turn 5, station 7 which was ideal. I especially liked the turn because it didn’t require me to go offroading in the Miata to get to it. The location was right next to the bridge that connects the Thunderbolt paddock to the world. The station had a reputation of being a very active turn but in reality this weekend we hardly had anything happen. There was one bike that went down on the last day during the warm up session, and a few bikes that moto’ed (gone 2 off in the grass).

The racing itself was spectacular. Lots of close battles throughout the field, and lots of great control of the bikes even in circumstances where I was certain the rider would lose it. I was super impressed.

I was very much impressed with MotoAmerica and NJMP facilitating training to the newbie marshals. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity so I went to see for myself what the training entailed. And I’m really happy to see the FIM organized training, the same videos used for MotoGP, being used here for MotoAmerica SBK. That’s brilliant. I really want to see all of motorsport be on the same page, no matter where in the world bikes race. If the world can follow FIM rules so can the US.

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 26

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 15

My other favorite activities as usual were exploring the paddock. Lots of interesting bikes on display. Lots of variety. There were bikes from Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Aprilla, Ducati and BMW. KTM had a spec racer series which was awesome, very tight racing in there. One series that wasn’t present was the Harley-Davidson 1200’s… but from memory those bikes were much louder than they were fast, and they tended to leak oil a lot which is never good for racing.

So a fantastic weekend in the books. I hope this post promotes the event to other people to consider next year. This is well worth the three hour drive from NYC Metropolitan area and NJMP pays for your services! Win win…

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 16

Post Card from MotoAmerica Season Finale at New Jersey Motorsports Park NJMP Thunderbolt

Greetings from New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt home to this weekend’s MotoAmerica race… the season finale of the Superbikes, Supersport and Superstock series along with KTM spec racers. In this post I’ll share some walkabout photos while the other posts will give a better description of an amazing event. So glad I had an opportunity to be a part of it!

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 2

Bright and early morning meetings at the NJMP Officer’s Club.

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 3

Awesome station assignment at Turn 5, station 7 that didn’t require me to offroad my Miata on the back of the track to get to flag point.

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 1

Great place to set up camp near the pub… I think I was the only one tenting there among many VIP’s in RV’s.

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 4

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 5

Weather was perfect and lots of Motorcycle vendors were displaying their wares including offering prospective buyers the chance to test ride their machinery. That was neat!

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 6

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 7

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 8

The cozy feel of NJMP Thunderbolt paddock and the open garages to spectators made everyone feel very much part of the event:

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 9

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 13

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 10

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 12

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 11

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 14

Demographically this was probably the most diverse Motorsport event I’ve been to in a while, and of course, lots of chicks!

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 16

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 15

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 17

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 18

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 19

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 20

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 21

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 22

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 23

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 24

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 25

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 26

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 27

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 28

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 29

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 31

motoamerica superbikes njmp thunderbolt 30

Super happy I was able to make this event. Highly recommend it!

Weekend of Thunder Trans Am at Thunderbolt New Jersey Motorsports Park minus Formula 4

It’s been at least three years since the last time I marshalled at NJMP. Or at least two years since I went there with HRD to audition for a job that I didn’t get. But after hearing about Trans Am holding a round there at Detroit GP I quickly signed up to volunteer. Besides Trans Am which is amazing in it’s own right, Formula 4 was supposed to make it’s rescheduled debut after cancelling the race at Lime Rock. Well, Formula 4 ended up cancelling again at NJMP and instead we got a NASCAR style weekend like what happens at the Glen where Trans Am had the event all to themselves with lots of downtime for the marshals.

mazda mx-5 miata at new jersey motorsports park thunderbolt lightning tempest

I mention downtime for the marshals because unlike other tracks that solely rely on volunteers, NJMP pays it’s workers. The good thing, after three year absence I noticed that most of the faces working as flaggers were very familiar. Which means NJMP retains it’s workforce. But the workers working this weekend were bitching a little about only having 4 hours of paid work on race day, since we had a late start and early finish with only two races on the schedule Sunday.

Unlike Detroit and Watkins Glen in the past, Trans Am at NJMP was pretty tame. There weren’t any major incidents, no blown engines, no heavy impacts… just little spins and continues, that’s it. I requested to work Start again saying that I really want to get practice with this position having worked it already at the Glen. But my request was denied. Instead I got to work Turn 2 on Friday, Turn 1 on Saturday and Turn 11 in the Octopus/Tail of the Devil on Sunday. All those turns were amazing, and I’m really happy with the experience I got at each post. I do wish I had a chance to work as a backup starter at least one day thought.

weekend of thunder trans am at njmp thunderbolt 1

Day 1 at Turn 2, wondering why NJMP and Lime Rock use an Orange strip Blue flag while the rest of the country uses Yellow stripe.

weekend of thunder trans am at njmp thunderbolt 35

Day 2 in the amazing Turn 1.

weekend of thunder trans am at njmp thunderbolt 40

Day 3 at Turn 11, which was even more amazing!

weekend of thunder trans am at njmp thunderbolt 41

The Starter Stand…

Unlike previous times where I basically CouchSurfed in Millville, this time around I camped at the track. It was convenient. I bought a new Coleman tent at Walmart because all my other tents that I own are living elsewhere so that I don’t have to carry them with me when I travel… (the latest one I left in Florida this year, there’s one in Texas which I left a few years ago, and one in Belgium I left ages ago). The brand new tent was amazingly spacious which was awesome, but less then 24 hours since setting it up I arrived to discover one of the poles broke on it, so I’ll have to take it back to the store for an exchange. Kind of bummed me out.

mazda mx-5 miata camping at njmp

I was the only camper at NJMP using a tent this weekend.

Luckily it didn’t rain and there wasn’t any foul weather. In fact it was a perfect sunny South Jersey weekend. I enjoyed it very much!

I took the opportunity to take lots of pictures in the paddock which was wide open to the spectators. Including some shots of my car with the extremely wide body Trans Am TA class cars.

weekend of thunder trans am at njmp thunderbolt 38

weekend of thunder trans am at njmp thunderbolt 39

That was pretty incredible.

I’m hoping I could make it back to NJMP again if not this year than maybe next. The track is about 150 miles from where I live and between 2 and 3 hours drive. Which is about the same as Palmer Motorsports Park in Massachusetts or Thompson Speedway in Connecticut. It’s not exactly close but most people assume that since I live in New Jersey it is my home track. Next weekend I’m off to my true home track, Lime Rock which is only 100 miles and 2 hours away… see ya!

Getting a different perspective for PCA at NJMP

A little change of scenery this weekend. I was browsing through the job section of Craigslist a few weeks ago and came across a mechanic wanted ad for a local race shop. While I don’t qualify as a mechanic nor would I even be considered for such a job, the race shop was kind enough to invite me to one of their events to see how the team is run from the garages in the paddock, a different view I normally get while volunteering as a flagger. So for four days I played a “crew” member riding down to the track in their hauler, taking action shots with a borrowed SLR, helping out in the garage, running errands like getting race fuel in the Tonka truck or ordering lunches, etc. It was an interesting experience.

Out of the three cars HRD brought to NJMP for PCA, only one ended up being very competitive all weekend. One had a gremlin in the intake seeping air and did not race as intended, and another had an electrical issue during a race that resulted in a DNF. For the races I managed to borrow one of the actual crew member’s cameras and a pick-up truck to get around the perimeter of NJMP to take some action pictures from various turns (many that I have worked before and already knew how the cars looked thru there). As I was positioning myself between turns 1 and 2, I got confronted by one of the yellow-shirts, an overzealous security guard whom didn’t like me being there though I was doing nothing wrong… Very typical behaviour that resulted in me rushing to registration to get a Media vest with credentials… not a big deal, but I missed a good 20 minutes of the race which I should have used to take pictures. So in the words of Scott Dixon: “What a dick move!”

I did have a few surprising “recognition” moments that gave me a big boost to my ego… I recognized a few flaggers I’ve worked with before whom I made sure to say hello to over the weekend and make small chat. But what really excited me was (after having gotten an orange NJMP media vest and knowing full well that there was no point in driving around the track when I could go “trackside” to take pictures) I approached one of the corner workers at turn 9 to quickly check if he was OK with me being there – it was his station after all, and a polite thing to do… and he said: “Hey, you’re that flagger guy! I follow your blog…”  my reaction started with a smile from ear to ear. What a cool thing to hear! So thanks to him for being awesome and I’m really looking forward to meeting him or possibly working with him at Baltimore GP when I go back to my regularly scheduled volunteering next week. Similarly, while in the garages and the paddock, I really kept my distance from drivers. One: to avoid annoying them and two: to basically stay out of their way as they went through their rituals of prepping for the drive/race. Well, one of the pro-drivers hired to coach one of the team’s racers, came up to me to introduce himself with a mention: “Hey I know I’ve seen you at the track before, your face looks very familiar.” Way cool again!

But enough talk, check out some lucky shots I took over the weekend… out of 2,000+ pix only a few hundred actually look half decent, in focus and have the car centered nicely.

#05 Porsche Cayman S normally races in the Pirelli World Challenge Series, GTS class

hrd njmp 2

hrd njmp 6

#39 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup is a former Rolex Series GT car now participating in PCA

hrd njmp 7

hrd njmp 5

hrd njmp 3

Team HRD works hard and plays hard at the end of the race day… with an equally competitive session of Go Karts at NJMP’s F1 track… got some great shots of them beating the competition (from the BMW Club having their own racing that weekend at NJMP’s Lightning track). Everyone had fun, but things were very competitive!

hrd njmp 4

#59 Porsche Boxter, piloted by an amateur driver that actually introduced himself to me

hrd njmp 8

Special thanks to Tivadar Heinlein for inviting me to join his Heinlein Racing Development team in the paddock, greatly appreciate the enthusiasm and the good times!

4th Devil in the Dark at NJMP

Sometimes I wish I lived closer to a racetrack, or at least paid better attention of when things are happening. Friday night noticed a post about an endurance race happening at NJMP, early Saturday morning headed out there to volunteer for the race! Sweet!

Of course having arrived unregistered I had to pay at the gate, $15+NJ tax admission, which was reimbursed at the registration meeting. Weird how they make you pay for volunteering especially for such a lowly attended event, but boy was it great. I have become quite fond of any endurance races, and this 12 hour 44 car entry race was excellent even when half the field were Mazda Miata’s and the other half was older Bimmers.

Didn’t take many photos at this race, but below is one of my favorites:

devil in the dark

A little bit of weirdness for this race. Was initially stationed at turn 11, which I have worked before and is quite an interesting turn but you’re very much isolated from the world being on the inside of the track. But for some reason moved to turn 2 which was also action packed working with a very pleasant gentleman I’ve worked with before at Lime Rock, so I was quite happy. The other weird thing had to do with race cars… after blowing an engine first one car and then another entered the race from the paddock replacing the stricken car. I’ve never seen endurance races feature replacement cars before. All in all it was an excellent day and I’m looking forward to coming back next year: http://www.thedevilinthedark.com/