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You can’t afford to join the Thermal Club

I explore behind the walls of the ultra-exclusive Thermal Club, where the rarest of cars are used with their true intention in mind.

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There’s so much emotion when stepping onto a race track. Think of all the moments that happened at Indianapolis. Monaco. Monza. So historic. Places that are full of ghosts. But what if there was a track you could simply drive onto and make your own memories? Any car, any time. Actually, there is – The Thermal Club.

Too bad you’ll never be able to afford it.

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People drive cars like this 911 GT3 RS on track as intended.

No place like home

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This extremely rare off-road Cayenne was actually flat-bedded in.

Let’s say that for the moment, money truly is no object, and you were tasked with creating an automotive experience like nothing else.

Surely you’d start by putting it in California. Maybe between Los Angeles and San Diego – the desert, because fast cars need nice dry weather to grip properly. And no rain dates would be ideal.

Next, we need room. Lots of room – we have lots of cars. So we’ll create an entire town based around the track. Restaurants. Tennis courts. Pools. Houses – no hotels, you can simply live here all the time. Actually, let’s make building a house mandatory, so we can ensure everyone is like-minded in their expectations.

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And this is just the parking lot to the track.

Each house we design and build will have an amazing view of the track, multiple garages (duh), and what the hell, let’s put it next to a private airport because we want to make it easy for everyone to get to us.

And the track itself? No – tracks, as in multiple. We’ll make each its own entity, but for a more challenging race, we can combine them into a 4.5-mile asphalt Voltron.

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It’s a make-believe place. Like Disney Land, the outside world is of no concern to you.

You’ve just made the Thermal Club.

Giving everything a soul at the Thermal Club

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Racing teams use the track as well as amateurs.

Since we’re having a fantasy, we’ll keep it up. This site, Machines With Souls, has just become really successful. I decide to treat myself – hello 911 GT3 RS. Actually, it becomes one of the most popular automotive sites in the world – hello Ferrari F40, McLaren F1, and Porsche 918 Spyder.

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But the fantasy stops there. It’s one thing to afford these cars, maybe drive them a few times a year and kiss them goodnight. It’s quite another to use them as intended on track. One boo-boo and it can’t be replaced. At least, not easily. Even super-successful MWS Mike has his financial limits.

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The paddock garages on North Palm track.
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The patrons of the Thermal Club face no such fear. It’s perfectly common to visit the track on a Tuesday morning and hear the wail of an Enzo bouncing off the walls. GT3s, the latest 992 generation, are littered all over the property, used at will for their intended purpose. It’s difficult to look at one at a car show in the same way after seeing some of these. Rubber marks, scratches, dust and dirt; these cars are used.

It’s a glorious sight.

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Truly one-of-one.

Righteous racing, Isle 5

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How did Lewis Hamilton, Charles LeClerc and Danny Ricciardo get their racing career started? Karting. It’s here, complete with red and white curbing.

Want something more serious? Grab a car like an M4 GT4, or perhaps an M2 CS Racing – something homologated so you can just hop right in. Racing teams book time for practice as well, including INDY car, which will be here in March of 2024.

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Otherwise, as a member you can simply book track time whenever you wish. A Thermal team can warm the car up, wash and fuel it, change tires – whatever you need to enjoy yourself. It’ll be there waiting for you.

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Massages and relaxing happens right on track.

The Thermal Club was originally built on land owned by the Kohl family (you know, the department stores), and they’ve continued to invest in its development. But everything here has no bank funding, meaning there’s no one to come in and change things, or sell off pieces of property. It really is its own little town, complete with a private airport a mile away. Walls ensure that you cannot see inside, and the area itself is pretty deserted. I doubt you’d find many prying eyes.

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This was unexpected…

I’ve been coming to the Thermal Club to work with BMW since 2016, and the building progress has been evident.

Garage galore

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Yes, you can buy one too.

Tucked away near the South Palm circuit is a special garage called “Cars by Thermal”, and you can pick up a used car here. Don’t expect to find any Camrys.

Instead, you get a Ford GT. Various 911s. An original M6 – the sky is the limit.

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But there are other items in garages not for sale. I wish I could show you the spot where every single halo Ferrari exists, but all I have is a single shot of an F40…before they drove it like a lunatic on track. I could hear the twin turbo V-8 echoing off the track walls.

There’s no other place like this on Earth.

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Want your car reviewed?

If you live in the tri-state area and want me to check it out, send me an email! 

Support the cause

Commissions may be received for product links on this site. Help out if you can.

I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.

Follow along on Instagram @machineswithsouls

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