Photos by Kirk Gerbracht
Imagine your favorite five-star country club; magnificent golf course, great pro shop, luxurious clubhouse, comfortable relaxation areas for your family and guests, pool, fabulous weather, lots of palm trees, gym, spa, and gourmet food too. Now replace the greens and fairways with 4.5 miles of Alan Wilson-designed, purpose built, FIA level road-racing course – finally your driver has a lot more horsepower than a 9-iron! Such a place exists, is well under construction, and is open to you. Welcome to The Thermal Club, Discovery Land Company’s new private motorsports resort.
Never heard of Thermal, California? Don’t worry, nobody else has either, but serious car people will soon know, and can own, a piece of The Thermal Club. Discovery’s new resort baby sits on around 350 acres of former unused desert, about a half hour Southeast of Palm Springs, not far from world famous LaQuinta. We don’t have enough space on this page to describe every amenity and nuance, but in brief, it’s a world class country club resort for car people, without all the unnecessary stick and little white ball stuff. The 4.5 mile FIA-quality track, being built in three phases, can be configured in dozens of variations, and the track can safely accommodate anything from a Sprite to a Ferrari F1 car. Without getting into too many specifics; you buy a membership, then buy a lot. And on that lot you build your own “Garage Villa.”.
There are about 250 or so lots from which to chose, and all but a few ring the 4.5 miles of fast tantalizing road course. The garage villas, built to a set of pre-approved designs, range from 2500 – 5200 square feet and each encompass a large, high-ceilinged garage space, a kitchen, bath, and living areas. Each design also includes a huge veranda/deck that hangs overlooks the track, giving you the perfect place for outdoor entertaining and unrestricted view of the racing action. Depending on the size of your lot and villa, you can build your Garaj Mahal shop with storage for a couple, a pack or a dozen automobiles — the man cave of your dreams. The track is open and staffed 7/365, and there’s an onsite shop to help with tuning and repairs, plus a fuel facility fully tanked up with racing gas and diesel for your loader. The racing amenities are endless: the school is staffed with experienced instructors (and Porsche Cayman S school cars), and there’s also a gymkhana course plus a shifty kart track. Keep one car in your garage villa or your whole collection.
And the track is fabulous; fast and super safe with more than adequate runoff areas; and its wide long and large enough for nearly any car to make some big speed. If there’s any downside to the Thermal formula, it’s that the Garage Villas aren’t zoned or approved as residences; you can keep your cars there, and work on them until all hours, and you can throw some major parties at your place, but you can’t live there. No worries; lots of condos and many great resorts nearby. But your 250 GTO will be more than safe, as the interior roads and streets are private; the facility is fully walled off to the public, and has on-site security.
Imagine inviting a dozen or so of your family and friends down to California’s famous resort desert for a weekend of sun, food, drink, cars and entertainment on your massive deck overlooking the track, plus hot laps – that’s the experience that Thermal is offering.
And as you’d expect, it isn’t inexpensive, but it’s absolutely first rate. We’ll let Discovery’s staff break down the paperwork for you, but for a membership, a choice lot, and a nicely finished Garage Villa, you’ll need to have a million or so bucks handy.
Or, you and a few friends can form an LLP and buy and share the property to mitigate the costs. Learn more and schedule a tour at TheThermalClub.com. With absolute respect to Disneyland, for motorsports freaks, The Thermal Club may just be the happiest place on earth.