I assume our American readers are all pretty familiar with the Monticello Motor Club, outside of New York City. There was talk at one point of its getting the United States Grand Prix.
Monticello is for the high, high-end folks. It costs $125,000 just to join. You do get 4.1 miles of track around which you can speed your Ferrari, Lambo or MINI to your heart’s content, though.
Well, there’s maybe a new kid on the racing block. The New York Times has the story on plans for a similar club outside of Palm Springs, near where the Coachella music festival happens.
It would be called the Thermal Club. If it happens. (Yes, a big if.) Here’s a little:
Where a visitor sees 350 acres of emptiness punctuated by mounds of scrub brush to be hauled, Tim and Twanna Rogers envision 4.5 miles of racetrack etched into the chalky terrain, a place wealthy car collectors can speed along at 200 miles per hour and, when done, house their fleets in individually built 20-car garages.
The Rogerses have joined with Discovery Land Company, a real estate developer of country clubs and resort communities based in Arizona, and have signed up 40 potential members. Still, Rogers said, his face growing pink from the morning sun: “I’ve been anxious every week. I want to see the asphalt down. Then members will commit.”
There are a number of public courses in the United States where drivers can rent time to drive solo, but there are few private clubs that cater to well-to-do drivers. Asphalt tracks and expensive clubhouses are cumbersome to build and maintain. A local permit process can take months, if not years.
“About once a week I get a call from an entrepreneur trying to replicate our business,” said Ari Straus, the president of the Monticello Motor Club, a private club 90 miles north of Manhattan that has 4.1 miles of racetrack. “I’ve yet to see a single one actually launch.”
Being a member is not for the timid, with club prices high enough to make a Wall Street banker blink. Individual initiation fees are $85,000 (with annual dues starting at $7,200), and buying a lot for a garage and entertainment area costs $200,000 or more. Members foot the bill for their own garages, which are likely to cost an additional $500,000, according to Discovery.
When the $90 million project is completed in three years, Thermal will also have a spa, driving school, go-cart track and control tower modeled after the Spanish-style courthouse in Santa Barbara, Calif., with an additional $360 million spent by members on lots and garages to come.
I’ve put in a call to Todd to get a few more zeros added to the old F1B paycheck.