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09/26/07
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4-mile NJ road course groundbreaking UPDATE #7 A formal ground breaking took place last week for this track. An opening race is planned for June of next year. This track is not near any major urban centers so it's doubtful anything other than Nextel Cup would draw a big crowd there, but it certainly should be a venue Champ Car looks at given it wants a race on the east coast and Millville is less than one hour from Philadelphia and 2.5 hours from NY. Construction Photos

06/13/07 Plans for Thunderbolt Raceway on a 702-acre parcel abutting the Millville Airport in NJ are going forward, and construction has begun. Working in concert with New Jersey’s SCCA regions, plans call for 2.2-mile and 1.9-mile linkable road courses on the property. Completion is anticipated in time for a 2008 opening race.

11/28/06 State senators pushed forward legislation Monday to help bring an auto racing track to Cumberland County.

The legislation twice passed the Assembly, but hadn't received recent Senate consideration until it was released today by a Senate economic growth committee. The measure would help bring a 700-acre race track complex to Millville.

Under the bill, a sports and entertainment district would be created and the town could charge an additional 2 percent sales tax within the district, including on sales of food and drink, hotel rooms and event tickets. Money from the tax would be put into a fund to either back bonds issued to build the $100 million track or cover financial assistance for a developer.

Officials hope to start building the track early next year.

"This motor park would be an economic benefit to South Jersey in particular and to the state as a whole and would be paid for entirely by levies on the users of the facilities inside the motor park," said sponsor Sen. Nicholas Asselta, R-Cumberland. AP Article

05/23/06 TRENTON -- Reviving a project that has languished for five years, the Assembly on Monday passed a bill creating a $100 million motorsports and entertainment district in Cumberland County.

The measure would allow a public-private effort to fund sports related projects in Bridgeton, Millville and Vineland.

Under the bill, both the municipal government and state treasurer would need to sign off on any plans to create a district in the communities.

After they are operating, towns would be authorized to collect a two percent local sales tax on all sales within the area, according to the legislation.

"Auto racing is the nation's fastest-growing spectator sport and offers Cumberland County a unique opportunity to become an East Coast sports mecca," said Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew, DEP May, who sponsored the bill alongside fellow Democrat Assemblyman Nelson Albano.

"Our region is uniquely situated to take advantage of this growth industry and good jobs and economic development that can follow."

A race track in Cumberland County was first floated in 2001 as part of a plan by then acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco to make a proposed Newark arena for the NBA's Nets politically palatable. Many legislators decried the involvement of public funds in a private arena.

In the motor sport bill, Van Drew said at least $20 million in state seed money would be paired with private dollars.

In a statement issued after the Assembly vote, Van Drew and Albano said the bill would allow construction of a race track hosting national NASCAR events. However, on the Assembly floor Van Drew said the track would not be NASCAR regulation.

Republicans pounced on the financial details of the legislation.  "In today's world and today's economy in the state of New Jersey, this is almost mind boggling,: said Assemblyman Guy Gregg, R-Sussex. NJ.com 

11/30/05 City planners gave N.J. Motorsports Park LLC a green light on its $100 million resort project after a hearing Monday night that was painstaking but largely painless for developers. The Planning Board vote, after a little more than an hour's testimony and questioning, was a praise-filled and unanimous 8-0. "I have a two-line answer for that," member William McLaughlin said when polled. "Ladies and gentleman, start your engines! Yes!"

"With my vote, I also want to say thank you to the developers," said member George Mitchell. Not every developer would have been as persistent or as considerate, he observed.

The audience, heavily weighted toward supporters, included motorsports park developers Lee Brahin, Harvey Siegel and Joseph Savaro. "It's just a very good night," a smiling Brahin said afterward. "We're extremely pleased with the unanimous vote. We're getting closer and closer to dropping the green flag."

"I think they're going to be happy when it appears," Siegel said. "It's going to be more than they ever thought. It's going to bring a lifestyle they never thought about."

The board's approval of a site plan for phase one of the N.J. Motorsports Park means work can start on the construction plan, with an eye to breaking ground in March. A March 2007 opening is forecast. Developers anticipate the project would unfold with two more phases over five years.

Noise concerns came from residents of Porreca Drive, the residential area closest to the airport, and more distant Laurel Lake.

A city ordinance directs the park to keep noise that reaches residences to a maximum of 80 decibels, which is equivalent to the sound of a garbage disposal from 15 feet away.

Developers estimate the noise will actually be lower in key areas even without planned sound controls.

For instance, the estimate is 50 decibels in the area of Silver Run School, 59 decibels at the Bevan Wildlife Management Area and 55 at the closest approach of Porreca Drive.

Sound levels are to be monitored for a year after operations start. However, the facility isn't legally obligated to do more than meet the ordinance.

Porreca Drive resident Harry Fisher said neighbors met Friday with representatives of the developer. The promise from the meeting was to expect less than 55 decibels of noise.

"I want to go on record as saying if we find what they told us is not what we have, we'll be back talking to someone," Fisher said.

Brom Palamountain, a Laurel Lake resident, objected to the 80-decibel standard as allowing "a lot of noise." Palamountain said the track is "a great thing for the area" but that he also values the quality of life existing now.

"The reason I'm down here is the quiet I've enjoyed for the last 18 years," he said.

Siegel said Thunderbolt and NJMP are modeled after Virginia Int'l Raceway, whereby the facility is open to the public except for the motorsports country club section. Siegel, who bought and revived VIR, anticipates a full racing calendar.

"I won't be surprised to see ourselves getting oversubscribed and having to start a waiting list," said Siegel. "We're going to go after the major events; Grand-Am, ALMS, maybe an outside shot at Champ Car or the IRL. I'm also excited about the tri-oval, but we want to concentrate getting everything right the first time with phase one."

[Editor's Note: Because of the noise restrictions, you can rule out an IRL and Grand-Am race as their cars are simply too loud. Champ Car's muffled turbo engines are probably ideal, though we don't see Champ Car racing at this track unless Philadelphia never materializes. It's a very rural track, and like Road America, will take a good promoter to get the fans to drive to the event.  However, the track is within driving distance of NY City and Philadelphia.  With that said, Champ Car would be seriously remiss if they did not take a look at this facility as an option now.]

04/16/05 Various local and state environmental groups have filed a civil complaint in superior court against the city's planning board in an attempt to declare the resolution approving the general development plan for the proposed Thunderbolt Raceway null and void.

Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries Inc., the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions and the New Jersey Audubon Society said in a copy of the suit, filed on March 30, that the groups are challenging the passage of the developer's GDP because they feel the resolution to approve the GDP fails to answer several outstanding questions.

"The resolution fails to make factual findings to reconcile conflicting expert testimony and evidence concerning whether the GDP application contains an adequate survey of state-listed threatened and endangered species in the area, or whether the proposed development will have an unreasonable adverse impact on those species and their habitat," the suit claims.

Additionally, the suit also states "the resolution fails to make sufficient factual findings to reconcile conflicting expert testimony and evidence to whether the GDP application contains adequate information regarding noise impacts or whether the proposed development will have an unreasonable adverse impact on the area due to noise."

12/10/04 This week's National Speed Sport News reports that the Millville Planning Board anticipates arriving at a decision on the proposed $100 million, 708-acre New Jersey Motorsports Park at the end of its public hearing Monday night. The board bases its estimate after listening to four hours of testimony for and concerns regarding the project Nov. 30.

Although NJMP could hold three or four professional sports car races on Thunderbolt Raceway or on the tri-oval annually, applicant majority principals Harry Siegel and Lee Brahin have stressed club-level racing and a park-like atmosphere similar to Virginia Int'l Raceway. The education center is to be linked with Cumberland County College and Rowan University's engineering program. Public safety costs is to be shared by NJMP and Amy Green Associates is to conduct a wildlife habitat evaluation study on Millville's behalf.

City Commissioner Joe Derella, at the Nov. 30 hearing said that NJMP would cost Millville $148,058 in municipal service costs -- but that annual revenue will more than compensate for the expense.

The park complex is to generate more than $1 million in annual tax revenues, 1,000 construction jobs plus 1,000 full-time and 500 part-time jobs. What would be the largest commercial development in Millville's history would take up part of the active airport and city-owned property across Buckshutem Road to the airfield's south.

Testimony was heard from several chambers of commerce, public officials, the Green Flag Committee for NJMP and other track supporters. Several speakers, including retired state Superior Court Judge Paul Porreca, asked the board to consider increasing the noise berm setbacks and having an independent decibel reader. The current application standard is 80 db at a 3,300-foot distance.

11/15/04 [Editor's Note: Can this nice facility being built essentially in the middle of nowhere in southern, NJ attract a big-time racing event?] Scheduled to break ground in the spring, the New Jersey Motorsports Park, Raceplex and Conference Center will be a multifaceted complex with a 4.1 mile road circuit raceway as its focal point. The facility, essentially a Motorsports Resort, will have design features and characteristics similar to those of the legendary Virginia International Raceway (VIR) that opened in Southern Virginia in 1957 and was revived in 1999 by Harvey Siegel.

Unlike the original VIR Raceway, the Millville, New Jersey version will be driven by an assortment of automotive industries and complementary businesses that will include, but not be limited to: high end antique or classic automotive clubs; private garages; storage warehouses and distribution and sales facilities; All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) trails; a national school for more advanced driving techniques and defensive or military evasive driving skills; specialty car gallery for the display and sale of antique or classic automobiles; hotels designed for different price points; special Motorsports country club and clubhouse; multiple restaurants; villas or condo style guest houses and conference center designed especially to accommodate the automotive industry. It is estimated that, at completion, total project costs will exceed $100 million. More....

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