Motor club seeks ambitious expansion; Some neighbors likely to oppose
Tony Cellini, the supervisor of the Town of Thompson, said, “We have a handful of naysayers; let’s not let the naysayers run our community.” He then urged the people in the crowded clubhouse to pack the public hearing of the Thompson Planning Board on February 13 and support the proposed expansion of the Monticello Motor Club (MMC).
There were no naysayers in the room as Ari Straus, president of MMC, laid out his vision for the future of the sprawling facility. Straus said investors have so far sunk $40 million into the facility, and in the next 10 years are looking at investing an additional $42 million.
Straus described the facility as a “high-end racing resort catering to high-end motor enthusiasts who love having their own playground,” and who come to the facility to drive their cars fast around the custom-built race track.
Among the additions to the facility would be 70 condominiums. Straus said some of the 250 members who come to the facility would like to stay “on site” when they visit.
The condos would also help attract more car manufacturers to the site. Straus said, “Porsche, as an example, will come with a team of 40 people, that start at 6 a.m. and work to 10 p.m.” setting up for a consumer event, “and they would love a place on site.”
Straus said there is also a need for more private garage spaces. Most of the cars that are used on the track have been modified for racing, and are no longer able to be used on the street. The cars are left at the facility, but the club is out of garage space.
Another item on the expansion wish list is a larger clubhouse, because on many weekends the current one is packed.
Also, MMC would like to bring a maximum of three professional races a year to the track, which would include professional drivers and spectators who buy tickets. He said the number of spectators at these races would range from 2,000 to 5,000.
Before professional races can be considered at MMC, a couple of modifications would be needed, such as professional pits, where crews work on the cars during a race. The track would also need a larger parking area to accommodate the trucks that transport the race cars.
In order to allow spectators to view the race on the irregularly shaped track, there would be a trolley system “kind of like Disney World,” which would move people to various locations around the track.
Addressing the complaints of some neighbors regarding noise, Straus said a sound study was recently published and the authors said that some sound walls might be beneficial. Straus said, “You’re talking about $.5 million to $1.2 million that looks like it might have a positive impact on a handful of people.”
He said no part of the operation produces noise louder than an operating airport, which is what the property was formerly used for. Still, he said, “We will adhere to whatever conditions the planning board gives us.”