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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)

Season Opener NJMP Thunder Bolt
Light rain / 45-60’s deg
Team Pro-Motion
March 28/29 2009

I had been waiting two months for this track day and I finally signed up for it at the beginning of March. I was excited to get the bike back to the track after the winter break and try the 05 GSXR-600 front I had put on it. Unfortunately I wouldn’t get the chance to really test it fully.
Prep started normally with the gathering of all my boxes of parts, tools and fluids which I keep on a couple shelves in the garage. I also gave the bike the full pre-track maintenance which included fluid changes, cable and chain lube and adjustments and a recheck of critical bolts, sag and safety wire. These last steps are a mandatory event and I will not ride until I have gone thru my check list. The one time I didn’t check my bike fully ended with me losing my rear axle bolt half way through a race in AZ. LOL, I thought I was sliding when in fact it was the rear wheel turning left and right under me in the turns. I’m so LUCKILY I decided to pit early to check it out. Anyway…..
The Trip. After loading the toy hauler Friday afternoon my wife and I got on the road in DC for what was supposed to be a 3-4 hour drive to Millville NJ. Our first hint of trouble came when we went thru the first toll and my wife asked “How much was that toll?“ which was quickly followed by “What!, You have got to be kidding”. This disbelief continued for another two tolls.

Note: If you’re pulling a trailer, plan on paying double the single auto charge.

Around 7:30, close to 3 hours after we left the traffic started getting bad and we started worrying about being able to making it to the park before the gate closed at 10. At 8 o’clock we were 70 miles away. At 9 o’clock we were 60 miles away. Nope, it’s not a typo. The traffic was backed up for miles due to construction on the 295/95 merge on to the NJ Turnpike. After a couple detours and some sweet talking by my wife to get truckers to let us in front of them in bumper to bumper traffic, we finally arrived at the Sports Park and a closed gate around 11PM. OUCH, what a horrible drive. At least we where not the only ones who missed the 10 o’clock deadline and were waiting for the gate to open. It was late and we where tired so we just jumped in the Hauler and where lulled to sleep by the steady beating of rain drops on the roof.
The Paddock. Gates opened at 630ish and after paying a 70 dollar fee to camp there for the weekend we headed to the paddock. The facility is new and the ground in the paddock area was saturated and super soft. There was no way I was going to attempt to pull off the paved area into that mud so I parked the camper as close to the paved edge as I could and dropped the hitch. We took half the lane with the awning down but I didn’t care, the paddock was huge. Power was available for a fee and the riser has two 50amp plugs and two 20 amp plugs.
Note: If you’re planning on running anything large better bring an adapter and the right cords for a 50 amp receptacle (RV) because you will blow the 20 CB.

We started unloading and setting up which took about a half an hour in the drizzle and from the looks of the sky it was not going to let up any time soon and it did not disappoint.
I missed the first session because I needed to put on my rain tires. I didn’t mind as it gave my wife and I a chance to get things straightened up and organized around the hauler. By the time the tires where ready we where done puttsing around and after their quick install and a bolt and safety wire check I was off for my first time on a track in the rain.
Track Overview. NJMP Thunderbolt is a very nice track with a nice mix of sweepers, straights and technical turns that will keep any rider challenged and smiling. The front half of the track is a series of sweeping turns off of short straights with several elevation changes. The second half of the track tightens up into a couple of fun and technical turns that spit you out via a chicane onto the long front straight.
My Sessions. As part of my track preps I watch videos of the track the others have posted on YouTube. This is especially true if I have never been to the track before. I watch different over and over until I can ride the track with my eyes closed. No, this is not the same as being there, not even close but gives me a good idea what to expect and helps me to acclimate faster than if I had never seen the layout.

My first session was slow; I had the killer combination of it being my first time at this track, a new GSXR front, my first time in the rain and the first track day of the year and I did not want to ruin the weekend by crashing on the first couple laps. I spent the whole session at 50-60% following the coaches around as they demonstrated the race lines to those who where willing to ask. Buy the third session I was starting to experiment with traction and lean angle to see what I could do in the rain without crashing. Now this is a very slow process as I took my time going progressively faster and faster until I started to feel the bike move in away I didn’t like. I would back it down a little in that spot and continue with the other areas of the track. Buy the afternoon I was having a great time in the rain with one of my favorite spots being turn two which is a blind rising right hander. Most of the day I found myself coming out of it way shallow, meaning I could carry a lot more speed through it even in the rain. I also enjoyed the technical section and had a lot of fun practicing passing on the outside there. Tons of room. I finished the day without incident and could not wait to get my track on the next morning.
Day two, The morning ran much like the afternoon except this time it was also very foggy. Rain + Fog = A very interesting morning. As the day before I checked the bike and air pressures and went out on the track at an easy first pace session of 50 – 60%. I tried looking for on track markers and other reference points but the water made it impossible to see any marks on the track so I had to rely on the cones TPM put out to mark the turn in , mid corner and exit and my placement in referenced to the rumble strips. I spent the rest of the morning sessions chasing bigger bikes down the straights only to get held up by then in the turns. I didn’t mind. It gave me the chance to feel the bike out and practice passing or at least where I would attempt to pass if I were racing. Although there had been several crashes the day before with one requiring a transport and another with a broken color bone, Sunday was finishing mid day with no crashes that I knew of. It was great. No crashing means more track time. The afternoon session started with the sun out and clearing skies which caused me to spend the first session having my tires changed. I really should have had then done during lunch but I wanted to make sure I needed to. It can get expensive having tires remounted a couple times a weekend.

Note to self. Get another set of rims and mount the rains. It will save a lot of time and money in the long run.

The track started drying and the crashes started pilling up mostly in turns one and two. As long as the rider was not hurt and moved to the rail off the track they kept the session going with just a yellow before the turn. LOL, you’d come around a corner and there would be a guy covered head to toe up on the fence waiting for the session to end so some one could come get him. In most cases it was a quick hit with the water hose and a reteched and they where out again in the next session. I actually saw a guy on a GSXR go down in front of me in turn one. He hit the mud and flipped and flipped and flipped. It was slow motion. I was like” Holy Crap, that did not just happen.” Felt like I was looking at the crash page in Road Racing Mag.

The day finished up for me around 430. We packed up the hauler and had a nice relaxing short 3 hour drive home. I didn’t get a chance to really push the front and start playing around with the setup because of the water and unfamiliarity with the track. Still it turned in great, held its line and rode well I spent to much time feeling out the track and not paying much attention to the new feel of the bike. All and all we still had a great time with TPM, as always and plan to make 5 or six of their dates in and around my CCS races this year. For anyone riding on the East coast and want to get involved with an experienced organization which provides rider training, coaches and lots of track options I would highly recommend them.

Thanks to those of you who made it to the end of the tome and I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed remembering it as I put finger to keyboard.
 

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did you run either of the chicanes?
we ran the 2nd one only when i was there last Oct. i know what your saying about being shallow coming out of 2, i was sketchy about being that leaned over coming over that hill. i also found that a slight tug on the bars would lift the front on the back straight over the little hump. its a fun track, wait til you ride it in the dry. i was dragging knee in 6th coming onto the front straight.

dont know if youve seen this....but enjoy:D
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuA4Kq_Z_mw
 

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We ran the second chicane only.

Even when the sun came out and the track dried, there was still a massive amount of water flowing across the track in the braking zone for T1, as well as small rivers in other spots, usually just at turn-in or immediately thereafter.
 

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Ran Thunderbolt late last season (right after the track opened!!) Gotta love new track smell!!
Waiting for an opening on the 11th with NESBA... Love the track, never going back to Pocono!!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Gotta love new track smell!!
LOL Very Funny, I can wait to get the opertunity to run every corner to my limits. I can see where you could get up to speed before you even got onto the stright there. Might experement with gearing in may. What are you running?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
We ran the second chicane only.

Even when the sun came out and the track dried, there was still a massive amount of water flowing across the track in the braking zone for T1, as well as small rivers in other spots, usually just at turn-in or immediately thereafter.
Really the first time I have had to deal with water on the track with race DOTs. Never had to worry about rain in Cali.... :L)
 

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Nice write up John!

You doing any VIR or summit point dates?

I think we're doing this Sunday at Shenandoah and next Sunday at Patriot.
 

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Great write up! I'm getting excited for my first time back to the track (just to try an R6 at Summit next Monday, but more to test my new knee out) and this made me feel like I was there :thumbsup:

I made the trip out to ride Lightning at NJMP last year (from just outside DC) and we made it around a couple of the tolls to keep our wallets from getting too light. If you want I can see how we did that and let you know...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Nice write up John!

You doing any VIR or summit point dates?
Thanks Eric, I love writing the reports because they helpme remember the weekends. You know Im getting old and some day I will read these and say "THis is very intersting. Who is this John guy" LOL

Id love to go to summitpoint on Sunday . Looking at it. My plan is;

25-Apr Sat NJMP Thunderbolt TPM
26-Apr Sun NJMP Thunderbolt TPM

11-May Mon NJMP Thunderbolt Keith Code
12-May Tue NJMP Thunderbolt Keith Code

23-May Summit Point - Main Circu CCS
24-May Summit Point - Main Circu CCS
25-May Summit Point - Main Circu CCS

21-Jun VIR CCS
22-Jun VIR CCS
 
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