A country club of a different sort is growing in popularity across the United States. Instead of championship golf courses, these resorts feature road-racing tracks that allow their members and visitors to enjoy the thrill of speed without risking a ticket. Some standouts:
Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois
Located about an hour outside of Chicago, Autobahn Country Club is a car enthusiast’s paradise. This venue wasn’t meant for racing events, but rather for those with a need for speed and a love of cars.
The 3.56-mile track snakes around 350 acres and makes 24 tricky turns, which members can attempt six days a week, seven months of the year. For nonmembers, Autobahn offers individual and group driving programs where you can speed around the track in a high-performance car — the fleet includes BMW, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche vehicles — with a professional instructor. Or, for something more extreme, try the Radical Racing School and slide behind the driver’s seat of a Radical SR3, an open-cockpit racer capable of accelerating from 0–60 mph in three seconds.
For those adrenaline junkies with their own souped-up cars, there are rental garages and "Garage Condos" situated around the track, some of which have multiple bedrooms, living areas, kitchens, and can accommodate up to six cars.
Monticello Motor Club in Monticello, New York
This motorsports country club caters to everyone from professional racers to speed-loving families. Located about 90 miles from Manhattan, the winding 4.1-mile circuit offers a variety of twisty configurations, each one offering unique challenges and thrills. Unlike other tracks, Monticello Motor Club does not allow car clubs to use its facilities, making it a true members-only experience.
Membership gives you trackside support with a full automotive center, premium car storage, and professional instruction. For up-and-coming racers, there’s a half-mile karting track, which includes multi-class races, endurance events, family camps, and youth programs. At Monticello’s South Pavilion, a trackside clubhouse, you’ll find a full-service kitchen, classrooms for instruction, a member’s lounge, a pro shop, a private locker room, and temperature-controlled garages.
Although it is a members-only track, Monticello prides itself on tailoring programs for private events, including charity functions and corporate parties.
Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Pahrump, Nevada
A self-proclaimed "driver’s paradise," Spring Mountain is an oasis for car aficionados in the desert outside Las Vegas. Becoming a member of Club Spring Mountain will give you and your family the opportunity to enjoy the 8,000-square-foot clubhouse, complete with bar and lounge, patio, pool, gym, massage services, business center, racquetball court, climbing wall, and 4.5-acre freshwater lake. Members can also rent on-site condos on a nightly basis, as a timeshare, or full time.
Of course, there’s also the racing. With more than 6 miles of track and 50 available configurations — with plenty of thrilling straightaways and challenging turns — Spring Mountain truly is a driver’s paradise. You can take part in various multi-day driving schools, including one established by Corvette Racing champion Ron Fellows that focuses on cornering and control techniques. For a truly exclusive experience, try V-Performance Academy, where you can learn to harness the power of the 640-horsepower CTS-V. Another popular option is the Radical Racing School that enables you to pilot a powerful, lightweight race car along a purpose-built 1.5-mile course
Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia
Situated on 1,300 acres, Virginia International Raceway, better known as VIR, is one of the country’s most revered road courses, drawing comparisons to Nürburgring’s fabled Nordschleife in Germany.
A variety of races are held at VIR each season, featuring everything from stock cars to motorcycles. As a spectator, you can sit on the bleachers or, better yet, pick your favorite turn or straightaway, set up lawn chairs, and enjoy the race.
VIR is a true "motorsports resort," with an onsite hotel and a lodge with 27 guest rooms; luxury, two-story villas are available for rent as well. For an up-close-and-personal experience, book one of the Pit Lane Rooms near the start/finish line.
One of the biggest perks at VIR is getting in on the action yourself. Sign up for one of the driving experience groups that visit VIR each season, or join the VIR Club. As a member, you’ll receive discounts, including garage rentals, lodging rates, and spa rates; access to the VIR Clubhouse and Skeet Range; and, of course, exclusive Member Driving Days where you can get on the track.
Other motorsport clubs
Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut
At Lime Rock Park in Connecticut’s Litchfield County, you can watch Aston Martins and Ferraris zip around the 1.5-mile track, or race around the track yourself through various club car and driving organizations, as well as special corporate and group experiences.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California
Not far from the hotels and restaurants in Monterey and Carmel, the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a great destination for car enthusiasts. Check out an American Le Mans race, join the Skip Barber Racing School for some instruction, or rent the track for a private event.