This week I’m off to Los Angeles for a series of business meetings, one of which will take place at a very unique location, and best described as Valhalla for petrol heads.
I’ll be visiting The Thermal Club, just outside Palm Springs (194km and 2.5 hours east of Los Angeles), in the town of Thermal, California.
Essentially, the Thermal Club is a privately-owned estate, which features more than 15 km of race tracks, which can be configured for long distance races, or short sprints.
Each of the planned 265 homes are built and decorated on a grand scale, and each has a garage capable of housing between ten to 30 cars, depending on how deep your pocket is, and how many cars you own. One member owns 60 track cars!
Club membership requires the purchase of real estate. In addition, the initial costs of a standard membership and corporate membership are USD$85K and USD$200K respectively, with approximately USD$20K per year in membership fees. Yes, this ‘Club’ costs serious money.
On the track the Club offers driving without the hassle of hiring your own race team to prep or maintain track cars. With the help of accomplished professional race car drivers and cutting-edge technology, driver coaching is always available.
There’s also a fully-equipped Tuning Centre to handle any maintenance or modification of members’ vehicles.
The Club broke ground in 2012, and covers 424 acres. It was no small thing to get the necessary permits to create ‘The Dream’, but it’s a serious motor racing operation. Right now the teams participating in the NTT Indy Car Series are using the track facilities for pre-season testing.
I am very much looking forward to my visit. Although there are many such ‘Clubs’ in Europe which operate on the same basis, I believe this is the first one in the USA.
My host will be Los Angeles’ top high performance prestige car dealer, Tom O’Gara, who runs a multi franchise business called O’Gara Coach, in Beverly Hills (right).
I've always said California is the cathedral of prestige luxury cars, and Los Angeles is the altar where they are bought, sold, exchanged and generally lusted after.