Mladin on New Jersey

Henny Ray Abrams | July 21, 2009

Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin expressed frustration on his first visit to New Jersey Motorsports Park, not so much with the lay-out, though there are issues to be addressed, but more with the process of how racetracks get built and approved  without input from the riders.”A lot of the issues that you have with safety at the newer racetracks would be non-existent, because if it was just matter of moving this here and moving that there, before it happened, it’d be a non-existent issue,” he said during a break in the testing at 4:30 this evening. “So I don’t really understand why they don’t do that. But in the end, that side of it from over here, nobody’s working together for a common goal for safety and I highly doubt that they will in the near future or certainly not while I’m checking results on the Internet when I’m long gone. I think it’ll be long after I’ve lost interest even checking results.”With their first AMA national 46 days away, on Labor Day weekend, officials of New Jersey Motorsports Park are soliciting rider opinion. What they’ll hear from Mladin, and most every other rider, is that the track needs gravel traps in a number of corners, including the first turn at the end of the half-mile straightaway.”There’s no gravel traps anywhere and obviously if you had to race here in the rain, you hit that grass and you know what’s going to happen. You pick up speed. You don’t really pick up speed. It’s not true, but that’s what it feels like,” he said. “And you’re not going to stop for a lot of places.” He added, “It’s a nice facility. Obviously someone’s got a lot of money.”Rain kept most everyone off the track until after lunch, by which time the track was mostly dry. Soon after the riders went out, there was a slight delay caused by water running across the first turn.Once he’d put in a solid half day’s riding, Mladin echoed the early comments of Corona Extra Honda’s Neil Hodgson, one of the few riders to go out in the wet this morning, who said the track felt small.”It’s very Barberish in the tightness and the amount of gears you use,” Mladin said. “There’s some similar sort of corners, some sort of long pullback type corners, similar to Barber. That’s what it’s like.”But again, you know, when it comes to the safety side of it, I mean, what do you say? I mean, nobody’s been here to inspect the track and so it doesn’t matter what we say and this is one of the things I’ve been saying quite a bit, that unless all the riders and teams say that something’s not right and decide that they need to do something about it, then nothing’s going to happen, so not much point talking about it. Come here and just back off a little bit in the dangerous spots and go hard in the bits that aren’t dangerous. I mean what else can a rider do?”He continued. “We said it about Barber and we seem to say it a lot. They start with a clean sheet of paper and they make these tiny racetracks that are realistically going to be 1:21, 1:22s around here. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”Other than the run-off areas, the second area of concern is a bridge just before the front straight. The bridge is taken straight up and down, but the worry is that if a rider hits it, he and his motorcycle will bounce back onto the track.”Yeah, there’s a few problems around here, But I mean as we said [earlier], there’s no point talking about it, because Suzuki expects us to come here and race and so do DMG and AMA and doesn’t matter what you say about it, we’re going to be here racing.”

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.