It would be fun to own a new mid-engine Corvette, but for the fact that the average daytime speed on Boston-area highways is now down around 25 mph. A 1957 Fiat 500 with 13 hp offers ample performance for commuting.
Aside from the chronic traffic jams of a country of 330 million trying to use roads built for 150 million, what is the point of a high-performance car when human drivers may soon be outlawed on public roads? Six young people died in “school shootings” in 2019 (NYT; but one seems to have been more of a personal dispute that ended up being fatally settled on school grounds) and that is enough carnage to prompt roughly half of Americans to demand that the government take away their Second Amendment rights. The carnage due to human drivers is roughly 8,000X worse: about 40,000 people killed per year here in the U.S. Especially given that it is not a Constitutionally-protected right, do we really want to take the risk of 17-year-olds in 6,000 lb. SUVs?
Taking a rare break from its all-impeachment-all-the-time format, the NYT gives us a story about residential clubs built around a race track: “Country Clubs Where Drives Can Hit 150 M.P.H.” Get up in the morning, zip around the track in the Corvette, then let the robot take you to work.
But the Concours Club and its ilk do not come cheap, with six-figure initiation fees and five-figure dues that make private golf clubs look reasonably priced.
The idea for Concours was born of escaping the winter up north. “Five years ago, I’m sitting down in Miami in our condo in South Beach and there’s every kind of car outside,” said Neil Gehani, a real estate investor and the club’s founder. “I thought, there has to be a club down here.”
After a call to his club outside Chicago, the Autobahn Country Club, where he raced Ferraris and got hooked on country club racing, he found there wasn’t one in South Florida. “I was told the land was too expensive,” he said. “That wasn’t acceptable to me. I wanted to be in Miami and I needed a private auto country club.”
The club, which is within Miami’s Opa Locka private airport, 14 miles west of Miami Beach, has cost $70 million to build so far. Mr. Gehani said 40 founding members were invited to join, paying a one-time $350,000 initiation fee with no annual dues. The club just released 100 additional spots, with an initiation fee of $150,000 and annual dues of $35,000. It plans to limit those memberships to 200.
Other tracks helped inspire the Miami club. The Thermal Club, outside Palm Springs, Calif., has four tracks over 450 acres, two restaurants and a BMW performance driving school. The club has 48 bungalows for overnight stays, as well as 268 home sites overlooking the racetracks. The initiation is $85,000, with monthly dues of $1,200.
Members at the Thermal Club are obligated to buy a lot and build a house within five years, said Tim Rogers, the club’s founder. The lots cost from $750,000 to $900,000, with the finished 8,000-square-foot homes running about $3 million.
Good fodder for politicians stirring up envy with talk of inequality?
(Fake News alert: the Opa Locka airport is, in fact, publicly owned (by Miami-Dade County) and “open to the public” (airnav), not “private” as the NYT says. Google Maps shows a track under construction next to KOPF, but not obviously “within” (usually tough given that the FAA can be strict about non-aviation uses of airport facilities; this might be county-owned land that was outside the airport fence? Google Maps shows a public street separating the track from the airport proper).)