Turn by turn guide to the New Jersey Motorsports Park Lightning Circuit

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Lightning Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park reminds me a little of a combination of Lime Rock and Mid Ohio. It is a short and fun 1.9 mile track like Lime Rock and Turn 1 even reminds me of Lime Rock’s famous uphill turn. It also has many blind turns similar to Mid Ohio, including Turn 6 which is blind turn going over a hill similar to Madness, except turning right instead of left. There is also a section of turns, Turn 2 to Turn 6, where if you mess up one, you basically have blown the whole section. Same thing can be said for Turns 7 to 11 at Mid Ohio.

Track Map: http://www.njmotorsportspark.com/images/siteplan.png

Turn 1 is at the end of the main straight. On the track map it looks like a kink that could be taken with little or no brakes. In reality, when you are on the track it looks like it is almost a 90* uphill turn similar to the uphill at Lime Rock. While it is a deceivingly fast corner, you must do some heavy braking for it. Once off the brakes and turned in, get back on the gas early as you go up the hill. The key to this corner is to make sure you get close or even on the apex curbing and be looking at the track out curbing. Because the corner is blind, you must look at the white track out curbing as your cue to where the track goes. This will allow you to take it at speed and exit properly. Many people where staying inside or in the middle and not using the full track here. This cost them a ton of speed. Just as with the top of the uphill at Lime Rock, you must straighten the wheel a little bit as you crest the hill and the car gets a little light.

Turn 2 to Turn 5 are all linked and lead to the fast increasing radius sweeper that leads to the short straight near the bridge. If you mess up any of these turns it will cost you significant speed on that sweeper/straight. The key turn is the left hand T4. You must realize that Turns 2 and 3 set you up for Turn 4 and take them accordingly. Note: many people where having trouble with Turn 3 and there were many spins and off tracks here.

I just brush the brakes for T2 to get the car to turn in. You must early apex T2 and track all the way out to the edge of the track early. In the background there are several tall trees. Most of them are light in color, however there is a very dark one that stands out. Use this dark tree as your reference point for your track out point and aim for it. You should be making 1 continuous arc through Turns 2 and 3, almost like a double apex. You will probably need to brake for T3 and trail braking helps rotate the car here. You must late apex Turn 3 and hug the right hand side to set you up for the left hand Turn 4 which is the most important turn of this section. As you unwind the steering wheel after Turn 3, you should continue turning the wheel to the left for Turn 4. This should be one continuous smooth motion. You do not want to unwind the wheel, go straight for a little bit, then turn left. Again, the transition from 3 to 4 should be one continuous smooth motion. You do not need the brakes for turn 4; just modulate/feather the throttle to help rotate/position the car. As you make the left hander, you will see some white curbing on the far left side of the track at the start of Turn 5 (uphill right hander). As you track out to the right after turn 4, do not force the car back to the left hand side to set up for the right hand Turn 5. Instead gently aim for just in front of white curbing on the left side so that you will start to be turning right and your car will become parallel with the white curbing just as you pass it. You should brake a little early but lightly while turning right just a little. This will rotate the car towards the apex at the top of the hill. Feather/modulate the gas to settle the car after turn in and gently accelerate up the hill. Make sure you get in close to the white apex curbing at the top of the hill. The car will get light as you crest the hill. Going over this turn is like a right hand version of Madness at Mid Ohio. As you crest the hill and the car regains traction, feed the gas in and this will naturally push you out to white curbing on the left hand side which is the track out point. You can get some passing done here if you stay inside as the other person goes wide after cresting the hill. As you track out to the white curbing, continue on that arc making only small gentle corrections with the steering wheel. You are trying to make one continuous smooth turn through here. This will bring you back inside to the white curbing on the right side of the track. Continue to follow the right hand side of the track all the way to the braking point for the 90* left hand Turn 6.

Turn 6 actually has a lot more grip and can be taken a lot faster than it first looks. A lot of people where over slowing here. Take a classic line through here making sure you hit the apex and track out points (white curbing on right side of track). You want to gently unwind the wheel as you accelerate out of Turn 6 so that you are in the middle of the track as you crest the hill. Because the hill is blind, the tendency is to move to the far left since it is a left hand turn. Avoid this tendency and stay in the middle of the track as you crest the hill. This will set you up to be able to brake later going into the bowl/lightbulb turn.

There is a little more camber at the bottom of the bowl then at the top. This allows you to carry more speed if you are lower, but you can get a much better run out of the bowl if you are higher before you start to come down towards the apex. I still have not figured out the fastest way around it yet. I was braking as late as possible, carrying as much speed as possible and then stay about ¾ of the way up the bowl maintaining my speed before coming down. The beginning of the bowl seems to go uphill. About halfway around it starts to go downhill. As the track starts to go downhill, use this as your cue to start to get in towards the apex. As you start to come down towards the apex you should be feeding in the throttle and accelerating to get a good run out of the bowl. You should be close to full throttle exiting the bowl, modulating it to make sure you track out at the right point.

After you track out you want to slowly unwind the wheel so that you are in the middle of the track when you crest the top of small hill on the main straight. It looks like the track goes straight at the top of the hill, but it still continues to the right. This was causing many people to track out early, get to the top of the small hill, realize the track is still going right and have to yank the wheel to the right to stay on track. The correct line puts you in the middle of the track at the crest of that hill, and finish tracking out to the left significantly after the crest of the hill. By slowly unwinding the wheel after tracking out of the light bulb turn, you will make ONE continuous gentle arc all the way past the top of the hill on the main straight, and finally tracking out to the left side after the top of the hill.

The main straight leads back to Turn 1.

General notes:

Because there are so many blind turns on Lightning, start off slowing more for the turns than you think you should until you get to know your way around the track. Many people either took the turns too fast or got back on the gas too hard too soon and ran out of room really quick on track out. Fortunately, there is a lot of run off room in these places. Also because there are so many increasing radius turns that lead to straights, “Slow In, Fast Out” really is the fastest way around the track anyways. If you keep this in mind, you should have no trouble learning the course and picking up speed as you get to know it.

Lap times where around 1:15-1:35.

Video with Data Overlay of a few 1:17-1:19 laps: http://videos.streetfire.net/video/A-few-laps-at-New-Jersey_171751.htm