Trading Fairways for Straightaways at Automotive Country Clubs

Trading Fairways for Straightaways at Automotive Country Clubs


Like M1 Concourse and Monticello, the Atlanta park offers luxury garages in various sizes and configurations. They can be purchased finished, or members can design their unit. A variety of membership packages are offered. Initiation fees range from $10,000 to $47,500. Access fees and monthly dues apply at some levels.

Mark Basso, the founder and chief executive of the Autobahn Country Club in Illinois, said: “My parents belonged to a golf club. As a young car guy, I wondered why there was nothing like that for people like me.”

In the 1990s Mr. Basso decided to do something about it and developed a business plan for what would become the nation’s first purpose-built motorsports country club. After years of searching for a site and a community that would welcome the venture, he opened Autobahn in 2005. About 45 miles southwest of downtown Chicago and with commercial neighbors, it has prospered.

Autobahn’s main attraction is a 3.56-mile track that can be subdivided into 2.1-mile and 1.5-mile circuits. A variety of racing series provide wheel-to-wheel fun. Also available are off-road trails and a roughly half-mile kart track. Instructors provide driving lessons, and a service center offers racecar maintenance, repair, tuning and more.

Vehicle storage is available in garage condominiums that store six cars on a 1,250-square-foot first floor. A second floor features bedrooms and a party room.

Private lots of one-third of an acre surround the site. There, members have built what Mr. Basso calls garage mahals — elaborate structures that combine living quarters and garages. One is owned by Bobby Rahal, the former race car driver.

Like other automotive country clubs, Autobahn offers a range of social activities. Membership comes at a price, although it is more modest than at some other clubs. The initiation fee is $40,000, and annual dues are $5,250. Social memberships that don’t include full access to track activities are offered for $4,200 a year with no initiation fee.



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