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Millville Racing Park Offers Behind-the-Wheel Thrills

By Jack Fichter

MILLVILLE — Classic MGs, Spitfires and Sunbeam Alpines and later model Porsches raced on two separate tracks while go kart drivers competed or just enjoy a half hour of fun on another course on a Friday afternoon.
Folks in Cape May County were probably aware that someone was building some sort of car racing facility in Cumberland County last year but they may not be aware that just an hour’s drive north on Route 47 will place them at the three tracks of the F-1 New Jersey Motorsports Track next to the Millville Airport.
It is not a NASCAR track, explained Joe Savaro, development project manager and a principle in the motor sports park.
“We are road courses and not a NASCAR affiliated program,” he said. “We have a country club type setting, instead of having a golf outing, you have a driving outing….”
Since summer, the facility has been open for six spectator events.
On a daily basis, the tracks are rented to driving clubs such as Porsche, Mustang and Corvette owners, said Savaro. The tracks see use by everything from classic 1960s muscle cars to motorcycles to Mazda prototypes.
The park’s “Lightning Course” is a 1.9-mile track designed for club use.
“It has a lot of speed elements to it,” said Michelle Boger, director of events.
She said “turn one” on the track is a blind turn so as drivers go over a hill they cannot see the road ahead of them.
“Drivers seem to like the thrill of that one,” said Boger.
On Oct. 24, Don Windey of New Hyde Park, N.Y. was on the “Lighting Course” for the first time with his 1986 Turbo Porsche.
“It’s challenging, it’s got a lot of high speed,” he said.
Windey reached 165 mph on the course, which he said was “red line” for his car.
The “Thunderbolt” track is a 2.5 mile pro course that hosted spectator events from a Grand Am to the Ferrari challenge. While the Herald was visiting the park, the Vintage Sportscar Club of America was holding the New Jersey Grand Prix Vintage Festival.
Roy Maloumian, of Philadelphia, was driving a 1957 Porsche on the “Thunderbolt” track for the first time. He said he also owned a 1959 MGA, a 1956 Austin Healey, a 1957 Porsche, a 1957 Corvette and a 1958 Sprint car.
The motor sports park features a kart facility for both rentals and racing that Savaro describes as one of the best in North America.
The karting track is 1.03-mile course, which can be broken down into eight configurations depending on whether it is needed for teaching or racing, said Tim Hannen, karting manager.
Rimo Carts powered by nine horsepower Honda engines that will reach speeds of about 55 mph are available for rental by the public, he said. The minimum age for a kart rental is 12 years old with classes and racing for children as young as five, said Hannen.
Why build such a facility in Millville? Savaro said it places the motor sports park 45 minutes from both Philadelphia and Atlantic City in the heart of the Mid Atlantic corridor between New York and Washington D.C. He said Millville welcomed the project.
The F-1 New Jersey Motorsports Park has a unique connection to Cape May, it assists “race widows,” spouses and family members of drivers participating in events on the tracks who would rather shop and look at old houses than watch cars running laps.
Savaro has an arrangement with Great American Trolley Company to create tour packages to visits restaurants and shops in Cape May and Millville.
The motor sports park property occupies 500 acres. Savaro said the facility would expand to include the motor sports industry with research, development and testing programs.
The facility was built to fit in with the neighboring Millville Airport including a shop built to resemble an airplane hangar. Security patrol vehicles at the motor sports park look like vintage military Jeeps.
Can you bring your own car to the park to run on the tracks? Not unless you are a member of a car club holding an event, according to Savaro.

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