New Jersey Motorsports Park, 1st Day
– July 12, 2014
~By Arthur Kowitz
New Jersey Motorsports Park is on a rural peninsula that looks more like North Florida than the New York-like place I expected. The locals were friendly, the racetrack facility was awesome, and the course was technical and grippy…my kind of place. Even though this was my first visit to NJMP, one practice day was enough to get up to pretty good speed, as the track is easy to learn the basics…late apex, decreasing radius. To really get good at it another practice day or 2 would help…oh well, I’ll do my best with one day.
With a few of our series regulars experiencing mishaps at the last race in Michigan, we didn’t expect many eMotoRacing entrants. To my pleasure and surprise there were a few last minute entrants, making for an interesting field.
There was a mix of Brammo Empulse Rs and TTXs, plus the exotic Virginia Tech Bolt II prototype. This beautiful e-racebike was built over a 2 year period by engineering students at VT.
A couple of the competitors were regulars at this track and were going real fast from the start, others had to learn the course, and a couple machines needed tweaking and tuning. Practice all day Friday and Saturday morning provided the opportunity.
Our eMotoRacing event was Saturday mid-afternoon. Two rows of electric bikes lined up in the second wave behind the first wave of 750cc gas-powered racers.
The first green flag is waved and the 750s roar away, we wait 10 seconds (seems like 5 minutes) before we get our flag to start…….WOW, what a sobering sight…most of us leap off the line in a very spunky and competitive group, but that ‘Bolt jets away from the line like a missle !!…not even close, that thing is FAST!
The rest of our fairly even group of ebikes takes only a few corners before we start catching the back markers of the 1st wave…as we close in and pick spots for passing, things get tense. Some of the gas bikes are searching for a fast line, while our pack of ebikes joust each other, trying to avoid a mishap with the gassers. We all want to clear traffic and chase after the ‘Bolt…this is big fun.
My reflex was to be very aggressive and push my way through, take a few risks and go after the ‘Bolt…but I resist, concluding that an 8 lap race need not be won on the 1st lap or 2, just don’t lose sight of the leader. My prudence hurts in the short run as 3 of the other Brammos push by me… I was blocked in by a bellowing pair of gassers.
Two or three corners later the gassers are dispatched and I set after the ebikes ahead of me…one was run down on the front straight, I drafted the next one and passed him at the top end of the straight…the TTX ahead of me and the ‘Bolt were still moving out, but within reach…remain disciplined I reminded myself, race the track, not the people…good advice until you get into traffic.
I could see the ‘Bolt was having trouble managing the tight esses and switchbacks that comprise much of the course. The TTX rider stalked him and passed for the lead, I followed around the ‘Bolt as well.
By now, a couple of laps have passed and we come up onto more 750cc gassers from wave one. As I worked the traffic and watched the TTX ahead of me, it appeared that the experienced pro rider on the TTX was getting into a groove with clear track ahead. Still half a race left, and some work yet to do.
One of the safest places to pass a fast rider is on the inside at end of a straight. Pull along side and see who gets out of the throttle first…hold it WFO, wait until your foe cuts the throttle, hold it a flash longer and take his line into the corner at the straight’s end. This doesn’t always work…if he holds it open real deep, taking the upper hand going into the corner, his cutting across my front wheel could crash me out while not upsetting himself…can’t let that happen. I pull along inside him, commited to out-waiting him. He doesn’t expect me to be there…
I have now had my Brammo TTX for a full year and have massaged it to my liking. It works just the way I want… accurate, sharp, and predictable.
He checks up, I hold it open and take the lead…this is what I was working for, a clear track ahead. No distractions, remain focused and disciplined…This is fun, tucking in tight behind the fairing, scrubing speed by throwing the bike sideways going into turns, using body english to control sharp lines on corner exit…just feeling good and enjoying the moment.
Thanks for coming along with me on this exciting 20 mile ride!
We have another round tomorrow, who knows what that will bring…
UPDATE: Check out the final results HERE!
About Arthur Kowitz: Kowitz was a pioneer and competitive privateer in AMA Superbike racing from the class’ inception in 1976 until 1982. A quarter-century later, he rode his venerable Kawasaki Z1 to the 2008 AHRMA Vintage Superbike Heavyweight Championship. In 2013, he competed on an electric Brammo Empulse TTX in the FIM eWorldCup Series at Laguna Seca Raceway and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.