For world-class high-performance driving experiences, try these nearby racetracks.
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What’s an amateur driver with a high-performance vehicle to do with all that extra space on the right side of the speedometer? Two words: Drivers club. In safe and often luxurious environments, you can open the throttle all the way with no worries about landing behind bars.
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 director Simon Kirby. Opened in 1956, the Connecticut track is 1.5 miles long, features 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 mean the facility can now be run in four different configurations.
A day on the track in your own car will run you $995 and includes private coaching, four hours of track time, and catered meals in the chalet. If you find that the experience scratches that itch for speed, a 45-year single membership will run you $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. Initiation rates for associate memberships, currently filled, are about half as much and carry a 10-year term with fewer benefits. (There’s also a family membership.)
Kirby, who also serves as an instructor, appreciates the members’ passion. “Their love of cars, 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,” he says. “It’s not unusual for experienced members to take a visitor for a hot lap or two, or even offer a drive in their car with an instructor alongside. They want to share the sheer joy of it all.” Lime Rock Park Drivers Club: 497 Lime Rock Road, Lakeville, CT, 860.435.5000 ext. 308
Monticello Motor Club
Opened in 2008, Monticello is one of the most exclusive drivers clubs in the country. As president Ari Strauss notes, “Comparing an experience at Monticello Motor Club to driving at most racetracks is like comparing a golf experience at Augusta to lessons at the local range.”
Set on 175 wooded acres in the Catskills two hours outside of 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; non-members 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 race car is particularly noteworthy. As Strauss says, “It’s impossible to describe the experience of feeling 2.5 g’s 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, full bar, private lounge, locker rooms, showers, a pro shop, and attached temperature-controlled garages. Monticello Motor Club: 67 Cantrell Road, Monticello, NY, 201.264.2721
New Jersey Motorsports Park
With a central location one to two hours away from New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Atlantic City, New Jersey Motorsports Park opened in 2008 after more than five years of planning and construction. Among its offerings are two world-class road-racing circuits (2.25 miles and 1.9 mile ), a ProKarting circuit, team-building event courses, on-site overnight accommodations, and a clubhouse. “All this at a price that is surprisingly affordable,” says corporate and community affairs officer Donald Fauerbach. “No other venue can match the value.”
NJMP caters to those wealthy enough to bring a pit team and several vehicles, and also to those simply looking to get their kicks in their high-performance family car. Membership costs are a $15,000 initiation fee with $2,400 annual dues and $165 blacktop fees.
Part of what differentiates NJMP from other clubs is the race-car driving schools—lessons in turbocharged direct injection (TDI) vehicles ($600, half-day) as well open-wheeled Formula 1–like cars—run in conjunction with the Bertil Roos Racing School ($1,195 per day). New Jersey Motorsports Park:8000 Dividing Creek Road, Millville, NJ, 856.327.7201
Pocono Raceway Stock Car Racing Experience
Okay, you’re not going to vanquish your speed demons in your own car the way you will at the other tracks, but here you can exorcise them courtesy of a 600-horsepower stock car that can hit speeds of 160 miles per hour. “Pocono Raceway is one of only three NASCAR tracks in the country that are equal to or over 2.5 miles in length,” notes Stock Car Racing Experience president Jesse Roverana. “This allows us to bring our participants up to speed with great success and safety.”
Only 90 minutes from NYC, this 2.5-mile speedway held its first 500-mile NASCAR event in 1974 and today is considered one of the premier venues for stock-car racing. Getting behind the wheel starts at about $500 for a 20-mile program and ranges up to about $2,000 for 80 miles. There are also more advanced classes, if you’ve taken the prerequisites.
“We provide detailed instruction for our participants to enjoy their experience with no surprises, says Roverana. “The most common comment is, ‘I can’t believe how well the race cars stick to the track in the corners—it’s amazing how fast you can go and never lose grip.’” Pocono Raceway Stock Car Racing Experience: 500 Long Pond Road, Long Pond, PA, 570.646.2300