Two World-Class Driving Experiences on the East Coast
One of the challenges of owning a high-performance vehicle is finding places that allow you to test the car’s limits on the road. Racetracks offer safe environments where you can open the throttle all the way. Here are two of our favorites.
Monticello Motor Club
Opened in 2008, Monticello is one of the most exclusive drivers clubs in the country. Set on 175 wooded acres in the Catskills, two hours outside Manhattan, the 4.1-mile track offers “grand corners” like those of Europe’s great tracks and more than 1.5 miles of straights, among the most in the country. Unlike at other clubs, access is mostly limited to club members; nonmembers are allowed in twice a year as guests of a member, or they can come for one of the club’s two signature driving experiences.
The two-day, all-inclusive, $4,900 Radical Driving Experience in a Radical SR3 racecar is particularly noteworthy. As president Ari Strauss says, “It’s impossible to describe the experience of feeling 2.5 gs in a corner or the sense of defying the physics of mechanical grip. One can only experience those things in a purpose-built open-cockpit race car.”
The price of single membership begins at $35,000 (10-year term, 12 days of driving per season) and goes up to $125,000 (lifetime term, unlimited driving per season), with variations on guest passes and driving limitations along the way. Monticello also boasts an exquisite glass-and-aluminum clubhouse complete with classrooms, a dining area, a full-time chef, concierge staff, a full bar, a private lounge, locker rooms, showers, a pro shop, and attached temperature-controlled garages. (201.264.2721, www.monticellomotorclub.com)
Lime Rock Park Drivers Club
“It might be the thought of driving the same track that has challenged so many legendary drivers over the years, or the sheer beauty of the place, but for me it’s the speed turns,” says Lime Rock’s director, Simon Kirby. Opened in 1956, the Connecticut track is 1.5 miles long, runs uphill and down dale along with plenty of turns, and has been home to a number of top professional races over the years. In 2008, the track was repaved and got two new corner complexes, which means the facility can now be run in four different configurations.
A day on the track in your own car costs $995 and includes private coaching, four hours of track time, and catered meals in the chalet. If you find yourself wanting more, a 45-year single membership costs $50,000, plus a $5,000 initial state tax along with approximately $3,600 in annual dues and taxes. The membership includes instruction, discounts on guest driving, and VIP entry to all events.
Kirby, who also serves as an instructor, appreciates the members’ passion. “Their love of cars,” he says, “and learning to drive them really fast, has created a camaraderie that I have rarely seen elsewhere, maybe only on a close-knit race team.” (860.435.5000, www.limerockclub.com/lime-rock-park)