Tamworth — October 24, 2014 — Club Motorsports, the driving-themed country club being built off Route 25, is on track to open up in September of next year, says the organization’s president Jim Hoenscheid. By the time it opens, Club Motorsports will have been in the works for about 12 years. Much of that time was consumed with legal battles and political fights including trips to the New Hampshire Supreme Court and town votes over abolishing the planning board and conservation commission. In 2013, Tamworth residents voted to clear the path for the project by eliminating the wetlands ordinance which rendered the opposition’s arguments moot.
“If we stay at the current pace, we should complete everything and pave the course next summer,” said Hoenscheid. “It will be almost 12 years before we run our first lap.”
Hoenscheid is glad to have the litigation behind him and the project under construction. The club owns about 250 acres. He estimates the time frame for opening to be somewhere between Aug. 1 and Sept. 1 of 2015. Construction started at the end of August 2013.
Club Motorsports is not a traditional race track. Instead, it’s a driving-themed country club. The 2.5-mile European-style course has 15 turns, 250 feet of elevation change and a long downhill straight away. The elevation change and the scenery make the course unique.
“No one in the U.S. has built on this kind of topography,” said Hoenscheid. “It gives incredible views.”
It also features a state-of-the-art timing and video system so drivers can stay safe and learn how to improve their driving.
“The majority of cars you will see are sports cars – BMW, Audi and Porsche. The kind of performance cars you see on the road,” said Hoenscheid. “The other big mix will be vintage cars which may or may not be street legal and plated.”
That said, Hoenscheid believes some exotic cars, like the Lamborghini Aventador, will show up too. Hoenscheid has long been a car enthusiast. His first job out of college involved teaching people to drive for entertainment purposes.
“I completely understood the appeal and the allure of something like this,” said Hoenscheid. “It’s a blast.”
Members could come and drive their Toyota Corollas on the course too if they are so inclined. There will be fleet cars available if people don’t want to drive their own vehicles. SUVs aren’t welcome – at least for now.
“I might have to amend that because SUVs are so much different than they were 10 years ago,” said Hoenscheid. “No trucks, nothing that can roll over.”
There is no speed limit per se, but there are restrictions based on one’s vehicle type and driving skill.
“This is not a competition,” said Hoenscheid. “This is not about winning points or money. This is about enjoying your car in an exciting, safe, controlled environment.”
There will be a paddock area for year-around driver training such as adverse weather education. Instructors will be available to teach people the ropes. Club Motorsports will offer a 4/10th-mile go-kart course which will be great for novice and young auto enthusiasts. Hoenscheid said offering entertainment for the whole family is important.
There will be a club house, like one might find at a country club. It will have a lounge, a restaurant, locker rooms and a workout area. Depending on membership numbers, the club may employ between 40 and 80 people. The club will have a membership program with a wide range of prices. As of Oct. 2, over 250 people had signed up. They are primarily from Massachusetts and New Hampshire but they also have members from Maine, Connecticut, Vermont and even California.
Tamworth was an appealing place to locate because it’s a two-hour drive to Boston and because it’s nestled between Lake Winnipesaukee and the ski mountains, said Hoenscheid.
The prices come with a steep discount if you get in before opening. During the construction phase, bronze membership has a one-time fee of $7,500 and the platinum membership has a one-time fee of $75,000. After opening day, the bronze membership doubles and the platinum membership goes up to $100,000. Members have annual dues as well. The bronze annual membership is $1,500 and the platinum annual membership is $6,000. Platinum members would enjoy a number of benefits such as first priority for “Garage-Mahals” which are condo units that will have a two-car garage below and two-bedroom living space above. They can be rented out to those who want to spend the night.
“Those will be owned and controlled by the club,” said Hoenscheid.
There will also be other garage space for people who want to leave their cars there.
Platinum members will also get to have 15 guests who can drive per season, while bronze members can’t have their guests drive. The driving season runs from April to November, depending on the weather. In the winter, Club Motorsports will use the paddock and “karting” areas for driver training. They could also use the grass road shoulders for activities like snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. The club house could also be used in the winter.
There aren’t a lot spectator viewing areas because of insurance reasons but Club Motorsports is envisioning having some nice car shows, said Hoenscheid. He added the karting track could lend itself to local fund-raisers.
Drivers will be divided into three run groups based on driving skill and type of vehicle. A novice group driver would always have to be with an instructor. Novices can’t pass unless the driver in the other vehicle gives permission. The other driver would do that by using his/her hand to point. Drivers in the next group might not need an instructor. Passing may occur by permission or on straight areas. The last group is for more expert drivers.
“That group is passing anywhere but it’s still very much, for lack of a better phrase, gentlemen rules,” said Hoenscheid. “You’re not going to put somebody in a bad position.”
Drinking and driving will not be tolerated, he said.
Hoenscheid doesn’t think Club Motorsports will generate a huge amount of noise.
“To say that you won’t hear it would be disingenuous,” said Hoenscheid. “Of course you will hear it just as you will hear cars on this highway. The key will be to make sure no single car is overly loud and causes a nuisance.”
The club will try and have some motorcycle days. Any motorcycle that runs there will have to be muffled.
Much thought has gone into environmental concerns, said Hoenscheid adding the various water retention areas will capture runoff in the spring. Any water that leaves the site will be clean, according to Hoenscheid. The course roadway will have grass shoulders for drainage, aesthetics and safety. The road has been built to avoid frost heaves. Material moved from the site during the construction is getting recycled and used elsewhere.
When asked how much it costs to build a facility like this, Hoenscheid said it would be on par to a ski development but he didn’t quote a number.
“This is a multi-million-dollar project,” said Hoenscheid. “It’s not to the levels the opposition thought it would be but it’s not a cheap date.”
Many people think of it as being like a race track but Hoenscheid says it’s perhaps more accurate to think of it like a private road.
As part of the project, Club Motorsports had to do an historical review of the land, which involved a search for evidence of Native Americans. The review took six months and cost $200,000. By federal rules, Club Motorsports can’t develop part of its property where some ancient Native Americans chipped rocks in order to make tools.
Club Motorsports has been active in the community for years. As an example Hoenscheid said Club Motorsports was a sponsor of the Barnstormers Theatre and a number of events at Ossipee Chamber of Commerce. Club Motorsport’s Facebook page has over 16,000 likes. The page features aerial construction photos.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to turn everyone who is against the project around but I think we have shown we will operate it in a very professional manner,” said Hoenscheid.