There’s a new race track in the United States. It’s just south of Phoenix, Arizona, and it’s a budding example of the right people doing the right things the right way. I managed to score an invitation to a private, press event to learn more about it.
I spent a couple hours on-site, learning about the track, the facilities, the dream, and what it’s taken to get this far. How far? Well, as of June 2019, they built a world class, 2-plus mile long road course and a permanent shade structure over a handful of patio furniture settings. First things first.
WHY IT MATTERS
“Apex Motor Club is a country club—but it’s a race track.” That’s what Managing Partner and President Jason Plotke said at the start of his trackside presentation. The track is the main attraction, the raison d’être—and they’ve spared no expense at making theirs the freshest, finest private track in the country.
US$40M and three years in the making, the 2.3-mile long track represents the first of several phases of development for the club. It’s an 8-inch, crushed concrete foundation, covered with 3 inches of asphalt, covered with an inch-and-a-half of binder. To put that in perspective, the standard thicknes of US Interstate is 11 inches, and the German Autobahn is 27 inches.
The 40-foot wide course is seamless. To do this, they brought in three paving machines which ran non-stop, side-by-side in a single pass. When early members reported bumps in the road, the road was carefully inspected, and they had less than half an inch shaved off to smooth those sections to perfection.
With Phoenix being one of the world’s biggest classic and collector car markets—home to several world class auctions, multiple private car collections worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and no real threat of natural disaster (or salted roads)—Apex Motor Club makes perfect sense.
THE BIG PICTURE
At $30,000 down and $10,000 per year dues, this slice of paradise is beyond the reach of the primary TGP demographic, but my experience at Apex Motor Club got me thinking…
Some gearheads build weekend race cars. Some build side hustles. Some build small businesses into bigger ones. And some, like Jason Plotke and Matt Williams, build world class, private motorsport oases in the Arizona desert. Why do some of us set our sights so much higher than others?
Not to suggest any one way is right—there is no one right vehicle for every gearhead, after all—but I find myself incredibly curious about this. How much of it is the company we keep?
I mean, we’ve all seen thousands of our peers online talking like they know better than the OEMs who designed and built their machines—but how many of our peers have started car companies in the last 20 years? Two? Three? (Shout outs to John B. Rogers, R.J. Scaringe.)
THE BOTTOM LINE
It takes a special kind of gearhead to build a motorsport oasis in the desert—even if that desert is home to one of the healthiest car cultures in the world. There’s an attention to detail present everywhere you look, but also in all the places you aren’t looking. When you see those details, it’s incredibly exciting.
Apex Motor Club is the sort of thing gearheads like us want to be a part of at our core. It’s a place where gearheads take their high performance machines—and high performance lives—seriously.
This is literally the smoothest stretch of tarmac this gearhead has ever been on. It’s also one of the most audacious gearhead undertakings I’ve seen in the last decade. I overheard Plotke telling someone he’s constantly being asked how much it costs, per mile, to build a race track. “Is it really $1M a mile?” “More like $2M a mile”, he said.
Apex Motor Club is the realization of a dream. It’s the result of teamwork. And it’s the first in what I expect will be a long line of meaningful victories for everyone involved.
I wanna go back and learn more. About everything.
PS: The press invite included a handful of parade laps. I RSVP’d early and grabbed shotgun in a supercharged, 380-horsepower, AWD Jaguar XE-S—driven by Tim Sharp, a professional wheelman and friend of the owners. As the cars rolled out onto the track, we held back and kinda did whatever we wanted. Please excuse the mid-track start/finish and goofy Montero comments. I kinda forgot I had a camera in my hand. (Fastest we went was 97mph.)