" target="_blank">" border="0" alt="" />

Click the image above to view the flash animation

MILLVILLE - The New Jersey Motorsports Park takes another step toward becoming fully operational this weekend by hosting its first live racing event.

The NJMP had a soft opening last weekend for members only and its first club event, a motorcycle club, this past Monday. The track hopes to be fully operational by Aug. 1.

The Eastern Motor Racing Association will provide the public with its first glimpse of the newest road course in the country starting today.

The group will hold practice for a one-hour enduro race on Saturday and four 25-lap races Sunday on the park's 1.9-mile Lightning Raceway.

"I really believe that we have set the standard for a road course and for road course racing in this country," said Cherry Hill resident Lee Brahin, one of the principal owners of the park. "From the location (next to the Millville Airport and close to major cities like Philadelphia) to design to organization, we have set a new


Brahin, who is in shopping center development, said that recent weeks have been hectic with most days spent in long meetings working on personnel and staffing issues as well as construction completion and finalization of everything from VIP suites and tennis courts to the 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Raceway.

Brahin is just disappointed he won't be able to try out the tracks just yet. Brahin races vintage cars but hurt his shoulder and had surgery after a recent accident in Monaco.

"I spent all this time to develop a race track and I won't be the first one driving on it," Brahin said with a laugh.

Don Fauerbach is a track official and a lifelong resident of Millville.

"This is a dream come true for the entire community," Fauerbach said. "I can't remember seeing our community being as together as this."

Fauerbach, like everyone else involved in the project, has put in some extended work days in recent weeks and couldn't be happier about it.

"Seven days a week, many hours day and night we have worked to try and make this the best possible opening that we can for all the people in southern New Jersey that have long been anticipating this," he said.

And while the four Sunday races will give the public a great chance to see some good racing, Fauerbach is excited about the one-hour enduro race Saturday that will start at 5 p.m.

"Somebody is going to be able to say, 'I won the first race at New Jersey Motorsports Park,' and that person is going to go down in history," Fauerbach said.

Deptford resident Gary Covely has been a member of the EMRA for four years and said the park was a big reason he finally got into racing in recent years.

He is also a member of the park and put in about 300 miles last weekend making him one of the more veteran racers at the new facility.

He has raced most of the top tracks on the East Coast and puts NJMP right up there with historic Watkins Glen in upstate New York.

Covely will race in the enduro race and another race on Sunday.

"I will be mentally and physically exhausted when I come out of that car after an hour (on Saturday)," he said. "But the very next day, I'm going to do it all over again."

Today consists mostly of practice and some fine tuning by the EMRA-record 350-plus car field. There will be qualifying and time trials Saturday followed by the one-hour enduro race at 5 p.m. After morning qualifying Sunday, there will be an open-wheel race, small and big bore races and an S2000 race, all of which will be 25 laps long.

For more information, visit" target= "_blank"> or" target= "_blank"> For a full schedule of this weekend's events, check our Web site at" target= "_blank">

E-mail John O'Kane: