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Oct 2017

10:36 am

First Look Inside The Outrageous Race Car Villas At California’s Thermal Club

Jim Dobson, Contributor
Original Article: Forbes

It was an easy drive down hot barren desert roads, while random tumbleweeds rolled by. I came upon what appeared to be a mirage in the middle of this sandy retreat only 30 minutes from Palm Springs. The sound of high octane engines roaring in the distance announced that I had arrived at the stunning Thermal Club .

This ultra-exclusive hideaway is adjacent to a private airport and perfect for the super wealthy car collectors who are building their dream villas along the spectacular 5.1 miles of racetrack carved into the land. With the opportunity to house 20 cars in their massive garages this has quickly become the ultimate dream vacation for car enthusiasts. You can arrive at the private helipad and then drive directly from your villa to the track without ever touching a public road.

The steep membership price has not deterred the eager homeowners who are shelling out $85,000 initiation fees and annual dues of $14,400. Add that to the cost of lots and building their dream villas, quite a few buyers are looking at $3-6 million dollars as their investment.

Tim Rogers, who made it big operating convenience stores and gas stations under his Tower Market brand along with his wife and partner, Twanna, created this members-only sports destination. Among the vehicles they own are; a Ferrari 458 Italia, a 458 Spider, a Nissan 240z, a Porsche and a gold 2005 SLR McLaren. I spoke at length with him about his plans for the club and his own future dream villa.

“Our villa will be three levels and span 14,000 square feet,” he says, “Its garage will easily hold a dozen cars without the need for stacking.  The home’s mezzanine will have three bedrooms and a 1,200 square foot entertainment room that opens to a terrace overlooking the track.  The third floor will feature two more bedrooms, laundry room, wine room, dining and large living room. Beautiful glass doors will open to an expansive track-side deck that will be perfect for outdoor entertaining.”

Asked about who the buyers are lining up to purchase these unusual properties he tells me “Our members are luxury-minded car enthusiasts, professional racers, race teams, automotive manufacturers and collectors from all over the world. Professional racers enjoy and benefit from the mild and dry desert climate for practicing during winter months, which is typically their offseason.”

And it’s not just the luxury villas that are being built at record speed while maintaining a dedication to using only the finest materials, Rogers is also enthusiastic about more perks being added including The Members’ Club to be completed within the next 18 months. Amenities will include a kids room, kitchen, laundry room, gym, spa and family room complete with a home theater. Outdoor space will accommodate two pools, a tennis court, a pickle ball court, a sports court, and a remote-controlled car track. They will also build 48 bungalows for members and their guests.

I had lunch with villa owner Joe Clark, CEO of Aviation Partners, and he took me on a hard hat tour of his enormous 16,000 square foot modern masterpiece he is building on one of the prime spots along the track. Joe also showed off his remarkable Aston Martin Vulcan which he added to his huge collection of Porsche’s. Joe is the typical buyer at Thermal Club, a true car enthusiast who is supremely proud of his collection. He also owns an estate alongside billionaires Dennis Washington and Bill Gates in the nearby Vintage Country Club in La Quinta. But it is the Thermal Club property that will really end up being his ultimate man cave with ridiculous entertainment spaces to accommodate hundreds of his friends.

Thermal Club Villas range in size from 8,000 to 15,000 square-feet, featuring three-to-five bedrooms all with a huge garage space and elevators. Some villas have carved out viewing windows in the racetrack wall offering premium views from guest bedrooms and bathrooms. With ceilings high enough for a trailer or the possibility to stack cars, they can store up to 15 collectibles. Many of the villas have mezzanine levels inside to overlook their car gallery.

Thermal offers members and guests a luxurious Club House with on-site gourmet chefs, a full bar, a Tuning Shop for repairs, a Fuel Island available 24/7 and personal concierges who handle everything from loading up your villa prior to your arrival to organizing charter on private jets. Members also have unlimited track access for private instruction and guests vehicle experiences. I have personally raced several times on the track in a Lamborghini Huracán and BMW’s. The club also offers guests track cars including Porsche Caymans when your car is in for repairs.