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In Thermal, a motorsports community offers life in the fast lane

In Southern California real estate, $5 million gets you onto the beach. In Thermal, it gets you onto a racetrack.

Thermal Club, a motorsports community tucked into the desert of Coachella Valley, is offering an alternative playground for the ultra-rich. What started as a far-fetched idea in 2011 has turned into a 426-acre development with four racetracks, 268 home sites and a staff of industry professionals to bring residents up to speed.

The club is members-only, meaning that you have to own property to get in — and it’s not cheap. Homes range from $2.5 million to $12 million, but for the right buyer, the community offers a lifestyle few others can.

Houses ranges from 6,000 to 9,000 square feet and come with a 20-car garage, most of which exit directly onto a racetrack. Twenty may seem like overkill, but General Manager John Rogers said one member keeps 87 cars on site.

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“They don’t look like garages. They look like galleries, and they’re big enough to fit a semi-truck,” Rogers said.

The community, which is owned by his parents Tim and Twanna Rogers, caters to a hyper-specific lifestyle. Members can wake up in the morning, drop off their cars and eat breakfast pit-side while mechanics check their tires and top off their tanks in preparation for a day on the track.

It’s not the first of its kind. Similar developments exist in Spain, New York, Chicago and elsewhere. But by keeping things exclusive and adding a host of amenities, Thermal Club is hoping to fill all of its spots. Of the 268 home sites, 139 have been made available, and 89 have sold.

The homes include Mediterranean, Midcentury and modern styles and can be custom-built or purchased completed.

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“Some want their racing suit and toothbrush waiting for them. Others want three empty lots that they can personalize,” Rogers said.

All the homes are three stories, with garages on the lowest level, bedrooms in the middle and living spaces up top. Balconies take in views of the tracks, as well as the scenic desert landscape that surrounds the complex.

For an added monthly fee, staffers will keep the house clean, supply it with groceries and check on the cars.

Current amenities include a clubhouse, restaurant, two putting greens, a tuning shop and a four-story eagle’s nest that overlooks the development, but there’s more planned down the road. In November, they’re adding spa facilities with a gym, tennis court, pickleball court and two pools with a lazy river.

In addition, the developers are building a batch of guest bungalows so members can have a place for visitors to stay. The developers recently picked up an extra 82 acres of land, which will house the facility’s fifth racetrack in the next two years.

So far, buyers have been mostly domestic, with many coming from the West Coast and using the club as a second or third home. Rogers categorized them into four groups: Amateurs who race for fun; professionals who use the tracks to train; collectors who like a place to show off their cars; and families that use the place to practice together.

A full-time trio of auto professionals makes sure everyone gets on the track smoothly. Chief instructor Dominic Cicero, who boasts a Formula 3 racing career of his own, studies lap speed and g-force data to help members trim their times.

Douglas Elliman agents Misty Frasier and Cindy Carvel, who are handling sales for the property, said commercial events keep the club lively, providing brands with a foot in the door to a hub of car enthusiasts with plenty of cash to throw around.

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When Porsche released a new line of vehicles, the car company leased space for a party. BMW, which purchased its own facility at Thermal Club, operates a racetrack there.

Similar to the residential side, the only way in is to buy property. Of the 20 commercial spots available, six have been sold. Space is limited, and Rogers said that’s intentional.

“They have to fit our profile. We don’t want people in there that ruin the experience for the rest,” he said.

Thermal Club hosts a few events of its own, such as the yearly Triple Crown Racing Series, an invitational tournament for members and racers around the country.

jack.flemming@latimes.com | Twitter: @jflem94


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