MILLVILLE - Dealt a strong hand, New Jersey Motorsports Park is trying to do what any good blackjack player in Atlantic City would do: Double down.
Officials from the five-year-old facility are involved in discussions to bring the popular AMA motorcycle racing series to town twice a year in the future, NJMP general manager Brad Scott said Sunday.
"They definitely wanted to talk to us about it," Scott said. "The riders love New Jersey Motorsports Park, and the racing that takes place, the track is just set up for the event."
Sunday's race drew NJMP's biggest crowd of the season, Scott said, though the park does not release attendance figures. AMA has been the biggest draw in all four years it has come to Millville.
The AMA has not come to one track twice in a season since 2009, when the series raced twice at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. But NJMP has drawn some of the biggest crowds of any track on the schedule the past few years.
AMA director of communications Gene Crouch said he could not confirm a second date said he had heard it discussed.
"If the promoter (NJMP) thinks they can get a good crowd, it's obviously a good market for us, so I wouldn't say that anything is off the table," Crouch said.
Scott said he had dinner with AMA officials Saturday night and plans to fly to New Orleans next month to meet with them again. He said it's more likely that a second NJMP race would be added for 2014. The 2013 AMA schedule is expected to come out sometime next month.
"They just love coming to the park, not only because of the track but because of the fans," Scott said. "The fan base that we bring in for their event, there's a lot of passion."
Scott said he would like to have one spring date - probably April - and one in September. The races were held on Labor Day weekend from 2009-11 before being pushed back this year so they would not coincide with IndyCar's Baltimore Grand Prix.
Having two race weekends would be a gamble. There is a reason why no track has hosted two in any of the past three seasons.
Josh Hayes, who won both of this past weekend's Superbike races in Millville, cited unsuccessful attempts to hold two races in Lexington, Ohio, in 2006, and in Monterey, Calif., from 2007-08.
"It usually kind of loses some of its hype when you do two races, it seems like," said Hayes, who will clinch his third straight series championship later this month, barring catastrophe. "You get one race that's always going to be bigger than the other. Once they come to the first one and see the show, they typically don't want to spend the money to come back and make a family vacation out of the second one. So I think it would be tough to do two races at the same venue."
Several fans, though, promised otherwise.
"Tell me when it is. I'd buy the tickets now," said North Cape May resident Geoffrey Christmas, who camped out at NJMP from Friday to Sunday. "I'd do it every weekend."
One factor that separates NJMP from other tracks is that it's the only one in the Northeast where the AMA races. Indianapolis and Ohio are the next closest. The 2012 AMA schedule includes 12 race weekends, all but two of them doubleheaders. All are at different tracks, from Florida to California.
"We used to go to Loudon (in New Hampshire) before they stopped having a race there," said Shannon Isakson, who came down from Athol, Mass., for the weekend and stayed overnight in Vineland. "This is a nice track, very fan-friendly."
Another factor could be that NJMP soon might lose its second-biggest race, Grand-Am sports cars. After that series merged with the American Le Mans Series last week, Scott said it was no guarantee Grand-Am would be back next season, and 2014 appears to be even more of a long shot.
But considering the crowds the past four years, having a second AMA weekend replace Grand-Am could boost NJMP attendance.
"There's some thought in, 'Would it dilute the event?' But I truly don't believe that," Scott said. "I think there's so much interest in the two-wheel side and this type of racing at New Jersey Motorsports Park that we can definitely pull off two weekends."
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