Quote from the Founder of Ferrari

"The Ferrari is a dream-people dream of owning this special vehicle and for most people it will remain a dream, apart from for those lucky few." -Enzo Ferrari

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Monticello Motor Club

New York investment manager James Glickenhaus has said he paid $4 million for his one-of-a-kind Ferrari P4/5 that can hit a top speed of 233 miles per hour. The challenge is finding somewhere to drive it.
"There is nothing like stepping on the gas of your favorite sports car and seeing what it can do," said Glickenhaus, 58, who helps manage $2 billion at Glickenhaus & Co. "I didn't invest in these cars to sit in a parking lot, to sit in stop-and-go traffic on the West Side Highway."
Glickenhaus, a former movie director, also owns a Ford MkIV, a Ferrari 166 Spyder Corsa and a Duesenberg J446. The Ferrari P4/5 is a customized version of a $1 million Ferrari Enzo.
Sports-car fans on Wall Street are backing a solution, the Monticello Motor Club, a private track 90 miles (140 kilometers) northwest of Manhattan. For a $125,000 entry fee, speedsters can zip as fast as they want along a twisting, 4.1-mile loop. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and race-car driver Jeff Gordon are members, said Bill McMichael, chief executive officer and partner of the club, which opened last July 27.
"It's the most exciting thing I've ever done," said McMichael. "I've played almost every sport you can imagine. Nothing gives me the same sensation, the excitement, the thrill of driving a really fast car on a track."
Monticello's application form doesn't offer a check-off box for net worth of less than $5 million. Members' net worth averages almost $20 million, said McMichael, who was the founder of Trinity HomeCare, now a unit of Walgreen Co.
Membership is viewed as an investment by some. Enrollment is being capped at 500, said McMichael, 41. Once it reaches 350, the club will allow memberships to be sold at fair value.
McMichael was a member himself before leading a group of investors to buy the unfinished track project last November. It cost about $50 million to build the facility, he said. The track is on the site of a former airport near the village of Monticello, on 175 acres (70 hectares) in Sullivan County.
There are plans to add a hotel, spa, cafe, stores, and a helipad for quicker transportation from Manhattan, said McMichael, who has a Ferrari 575M and a new Ferrari F430 Scuderia.
The initiation fee and $7,500 annual dues total far less than paying years of admission charges to drive professional courses on days they open to amateurs, said Harry Schessel, 43, an entrepreneur who recently sold packaging maker AQL Decorating Co. and owns a Porsche GT3 RS. "It's probably the most unique driving experience in the world right now," Schessel said.
It may sound like a recipe for disaster: middle-age alpha males racing each other at 100 mph-plus. Not so, says McMichael.
"The real limitation here is the drivers' abilities," he has said. "We'll let them drive essentially as fast as they can while it's still safe."
He plans to offer instruction from professional drivers and the opportunity to drive cars from a fleet of classic and contemporary sports models, such as a 450-horsepower Ferrari 360 Stradale, for additional fees.
He said no one gets on the track until their ability is assessed and there are professional drivers ready to help. Club members are not going to act like 18-year-olds, he said.
"Our members are pretty successful guys," he said, "they don't want to come out here and just tear it up."
Speed fans who can't afford the $125,000 initiation fee can buy a small slice of the experience. One-day passes start at $2,500, said Ari Straus, 39, the club's chief operating officer.

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/, http://www.baltimoresun.com/

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