Through The Esses - Sportscar Racing Is Coming To New Jersey In 2008
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© Andrew S. Hartwell

For sportscar fans living in the northeast corridor of the United States - the area running between Washington, DC in the south, to New York City in the north- there are no convenient (read: nearby) racing circuits to go to for professional road racing events. At the southern end of the corridor, Virginia International Raceway is several hundred miles south and west of Washington. At the north end, beautiful Lime Rock Park (in southwestern Connecticut) is really not too far, about 100 miles from the city, but the upstate Watkins Glen circuit is over 250 miles west. Anyone residing within the corridor simply has to resign themselves to having a long ride ahead to get to the racing action.

But that should not be the case come the summer of 2008. For it is then that the New Jersey Motorsports Park facility is slated to open in Millville, New Jersey. This location is about 130 miles south of New York, 150 miles north of Washington, and 46 miles south and east of Philadelphia.

And the plan is to have sportscar racing become as big an attraction as the casinos of Atlantic City, which lie waiting to collect your hard earned dollars just under 40 miles east of Millville.

But this new multifaceted motorsports facility will not have games of chance for the fans to indulge in. All the chances will be taken by the professional and vintage racers who will be tearing up the straight-aways and drifting through the corners of what is promised to be a modern and well planned racing facility with something to offer motorsports fans of every interest, from road racing to motocross to off-road racing.

The facility is being developed on land adjacent to the Millville Airport. A tract of over 700 acres has been earmarked for the facility and the first phase of the construction will include over 500 of those acres.

One would have to believe a project of this magnitude would require some experienced minds be driving the process through the multiple phases, and numerous obstacles, to be met for this idea to become reality. We spoke with two of the primary initiators of this ambitious project, Lee Brahin and Joe Savaro, and learned quite a bit about what the future holds in store for them, for the town of Millville, and for race fans living along the northeast corridor.

We began by asking Brahin about the background story behind this effort to bring a new racing venue into existence. He began with the current status of the project.

There is no facility on the property today. This is a ground up project and certain construction activities are underway as we speak. We are taking ownership of the land next Monday and we are in the middle of closing a debt-equity deal with a participating lender.

The main principals in this project are myself, Lee Brahin - I am a real estate developer out of the Philadelphia area - and Harvey Siegel, who is a personal friend and partner in real estate projects, and one of the owners of Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Joe Savaro, who is presently an employee of one of my companies, Brahin Management Corporation, is also a full partner in this project and he has been instrumental in pulling together a lot of the activities required to make this happen. We three are the main players with the vision and the resources needed to bring this to fruition.

And we recently brought in another partner, a name that sportscar fans will know well, R.J. Valentine. He is a longtime racer and the owner of F1 Boston, the indoor karting facility.

The opportunity came across to us about four years ago at a real estate convention in New York. Joe had made friends with the Economic Development Director from the city of Millville.

Savaro: We went out for a drink and started talking about opportunities in the Millville area. He told me that the city had recently acquired land next to the airport and they were interested in putting a motorsports park on the proper