Imagine having your own private racetrack. It’s every petrolhead’s dream. A collection of cars and bikes at your disposal to drive and ride any time you want. As fast as you dare. Just outside Palm Springs in California that dream is a reality for a small number of very wealthy people. It’s called the Thermal Club. And while ownership might come with a hefty price tag, you get a trackside villa, a garage for your machines and unlimited track time. We caught up with John Rogers, the club’s general manager.
If we could start with world events, John. How’s coronavirus affecting business?
We’re taking the COVID 19 crisis very seriously. The Thermal Club is a unique place and is well designed to accommodate social distancing guidelines. In addition, we are implementing several policy changes that will help ensure the safety and health of our members and staff. Our ability to operate under these circumstances rely heavily on cooperation from everyone. Anyone not feeling 100% is asked to avoid coming to the Club. We plan to operate as long as conditions permit, are desirable and can be done legally.
The Thermal Club is a nirvana for car and bike lovers. What’s the story behind it? How did it come about?
The Thermal Club broke ground in 2012. The property is 424 acres. It was quite challenging to get the zoning for the racetrack, it was a very long process. And the Thermal Club circuits were designed by Alan Wilson who has designed more than 20 race circuits. The most recent award we received was “Motorsport Facility of the Year”.
Can you explain how the Thermal Club works?
Club membership requires the purchase of real estate at the Thermal Club. In addition, the initial costs of a standard membership and corporate membership are $85k and $200k respectively with approximately $20k per year in membership dues.
The Club has various amenities including the circuit and more than five miles of racetrack that can run many layouts. Each of the tracks can be combined with one or two tracks to create longer circuits. On track, the Club offers driving without any of the hassle of hiring your own race team to prep or maintain track vehicles. 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 center to handle maintenance and modification of members vehicles.
Who’s a typical customer and how often do they visit - is it a bit like having a golf club membership?
Despite having varied backgrounds and stories, our members all share a tremendous passion for whatever they put their minds to. This is most evident in their passion for vehicles and motorsport. It would not be abnormal for a member to have 60 cars. Despite having other tremendous responsibilities, Thermal members find a way to disconnect and spend time on the track and with each other. We have members that own and operate notable businesses including vehicle dealerships.
Is the Thermal Club open to the public?
We have had a few events at Thermal including manufacturers events. Each event that the Club hosts must align with the interests of our members. If a new vehicle is being introduced to the world and it is one that our members are interested in, the Club will consider hosting the event. Outside of that, the club is only open to its members and their guests.
© Picture credits: Eric Figge