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21 Ultimate Gifts: On the Right Track

  • Paul Meyers

THE GIFT
A custom private racetrack from renowned German circuit designer Hermann Tilke.

On-site storage and showcase facilities for the recipient’s auto collection.

A modern residence overlooking the racecourse.

Guesthouses, tennis courts, and a swimming pool.

A private airstrip.

Starting at $35 million

Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and the late Ayrton Senna are among Formula 1 racing’s household names. Hermann Tilke is not, but the racecourse designer has played as significant a role in the sport as any of the aforementioned drivers. "Within the current Formula 1 calendar there are a total of 20 races around the world, and 12 of those

racetracks have been designed and built by us," says Christian Epp, Tilke Engineers & Architects’ director of operations for North America and South America.

Those credentials have earned Tilke’s firm, which he established in 1983 in Aachen, Germany, recognition in the racing community as the leading designer of racetrack and test-drive facilities. Tilke not only designs racetracks, but also has competed on them: The retired semiprofessional driver has raced in the 24 Hours Nürburgring several times and in a number of other high-profile events. Tilke’s résumé also includes design work for hotels, office buildings, housing projects, shopping malls, and sports and leisure facilities.

"We’ve built many racing clubs," says Epp, "but we envision this gift in a much more intimate setting: a privately owned racetrack created by an aficionado of racing. We want to build something truly special that is designed for one owner who can invite his family and friends out to enjoy it."

Tilke and his team will work with the gift recipient to find an appropriate plot of land on which to build a 2- to 3-mile-long private speedway and surrounding facilities. The recipient will be invited to collaborate with Tilke as he designs the track.

According to Epp, the minimum plot of land needed for this project is between 100 and 150 acres; the site will also accommodate the other parts of this gift, which include a small airstrip, a modern residence overlooking the track’s most challenging turn, guesthouses, tennis courts, and a swimming pool. Additionally, Tilke will design a well-appointed garage in which the gift recipient can store his car collection, and a showroom where he can display some of his vehicles.

The larger the plot of land, the more amenities the project can include (at an additional cost). "We could really add anything that someone would think of," says Epp. "But at the end of the day, it always comes down to location, location, location. I would like to see this private track in a place where the owner could use it year-round."

Epp says the track could be fully operational in about two-and-a-half years from the time of purchase (barring issues with permits or inclement weather). He notes that Tilke Engineers & Architects typically requires as long as a year to design a track and obtain the required permits and an additional 12 to 16 months to construct it.

"This is like designing a golf course with Jack Nicklaus or Greg Norman," says Epp. "It’s an opportunity to have what the best drivers in the world have, but in your own backyard."

Tilke Engineers & Architects, Christian Epp, 512.550.0555, christian.epp@tilke.de, www.tilke.de

The plot of land is not included in the cost of the gift. Tilke and the gift recipient will determine the location of the plot based on accessibility, zoning regulations, and natural topography. No vehicles are included in the cost of this gift.

This article was originally published in the December 2012 issue of Robb Report. Click here to read more articles from this issue.