Aug 29, 2011
Southern California racetracks have had an unfortunate habit of dying. Legendary tracks that hosted world-class races in Riverside and Ontario closed their gates, doomed by the encroachment of suburban sprawl that has swept across the greater Los Angeles region. But now a new track nestled into the sweeping desert landscape of Palm Springs is becoming more of a reality. And the plans for the new facility dramatically show how the thinking about racetracks has evolved over the past 30 years.
While Ontario and Riverside were gritty, working-class facilities that counted running water as a frill, the planned Thermal Motorsports Track and Club will offer a country-club-like atmosphere. Its promoters hope it will become North America’s premier destination for automotive connoisseurs and racing enthusiasts alike.
It will also be exclusive, in the country club tradition. Thermal plans to be an invitation-only members’ club with opulent facilities to match. Rather than working on their putting or their overheads, Thermal members will get the opportunity to exercise their racing muscles on three independent road circuits with 16 configurations under the watchful eye of spotters in a 70-foot-high control tower.
Instead of the scruffy, ad hoc facilities you see at many racetracks, Thermal will provide private member areas with concierge services, on-site storage garages for members’ cars, as well as building sites for individuals, businesses and automotive manufacturers looking to create their own trackside, entertainment garage and driving experience centers.
The plan is similar to those of several other race track-cum-club facilities that have opened, or plan to open, in the near future. The faltering economy has brought some of them into question, but Thermal recently secured a new majority owner: Tim and Twanna Rogers and their son, John. The Palos Verdes-based family intends to make the new facility an important part of the national racing scene.
“We are thrilled to be able to partner on such an exciting project,” says Tim Rogers. “The need for a facility like this in Southern California is long overdue since the closing of Riverside in the late ’80s. Thermal Motorsports Track and Club is destined to become the world’s finest motoring facilities.”
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