TAMWORTH — From much of the track at Club Motorsports, there’s a gorgeous view of Mount Chocorua and the White Mountains beyond. And that’s a shame, because so few people will be able to tear their eyes from the approaching corner.
This will be the first full season for Club Motorsports, and it has been a long time coming. The effort to build the facility — a private country club for people who drive a car instead of a golf ball — began 15 years ago. First there was a political struggle – which took more than a decade – before any site work could be done. Then it took a couple of years to build the track, a 2.5-mile, 40-foot-wide loop that takes drivers up and down the north side of Mount Whittier.
Jason Brackett, track supervisor, said more than a million cubic yards of material was moved on the site in order to shape the course.
None of that material was removed from the site, Brackett said; it was relocated in order to create a bed for the course, which follows — more or less — the contours of the mountain. As a result, the course boasts elevation changes of 250 feet as it plies the slopes of Mount Whittier. That gives Club Motorsports its signature, Brackett said.
“It’s got some of the most elevations [of any track] in North America,” he said. “That, along with the scenery and the track layout, the flow, are what really sets it apart.”
The Club Motorsports track is designed to continually challenge and excite drivers. When they choose the right line on the course and brake at the right time, each turn sets them up for the next corner.
The purpose of such facilities is to give driving enthusiasts the chance to improve their skills safely and explore the limits of their vehicles. Modern cars have far more power than can responsibly be unleashed on public roads, Brackett noted.
At Club Motorsports, drivers will be able to push their cars to exceed 100 miles per hour, and in an environment built to do so safely.
“It’s an inherently risky sport. That being said, we’ve put in as many things as we can to limit that risk,” Brackett said.
The trickier corners have wide run-off areas for drivers who come in too fast, and the walls and fences are designed to absorb energy should a driver ever hit one at high speed — which hasn’t happened yet.
Club Motorsports employs people to occupy vantage points along the course. If a driver has a mechanical malfunction, or if there are any other safety problems, the corner workers wave a caution flag until the situation has been resolved.
The course is built, but that’s just the club’s first phase of work in the planning stages. Construction is expected to start next year on a clubhouse and at least 16 “Garage Mahals,” which will offer members a garage and apartment for rent.
Joining Club Motorsports isn’t cheap. The most affordable of the four membership levels comes with a one-time initiation fee of $15,000 and an annual membership fee of $1,500. That buys the member 10 days of access to the course.
(Interested in a more affordable way to get on the track? See sidebar story.)
The membership experience is apparently worth the cost, though. Brackett said the club is entering its first summer of operation with more than 260 members, and has a theoretical ceiling of around 1,000.
“Anything over 300 and we’re doing good. We’re getting there,” he said.
About half of the members live in Massachusetts, Brackett said. New Hampshire and Maine residents make up most of the other half, and there are a few members coming from New York and the other New England states. The members are mostly men, but there are some women members, too.
The members, Brackett said, are “middle-class to millionaires, all walks of life, all the way up to people that race professionally. The commonality is the love of their vehicles, whether it’s their car or motorcycle.”