Alpine Motorsport Club – A Passionate Idea Twenty Years in the Making

//Alpine Motorsport Club – A Passionate Idea Twenty Years in the Making

Alpine Motorsport Club – A Passionate Idea Twenty Years in the Making

[singlepic id=2288 w=720 h=500 float=center]
Richard Muller’s infectious passion for developing and seeing this concept come to fruition is slathered all over his demeanor. Richard has been envisioning a club racetrack since in 1991, a place where the members would come to enjoy their cars in a country club-like atmosphere. Very simple concept but, as he has learned over the years, very difficult to pull off successfully.
In May of 2001 Richard found a property for sale in Eldred Township, Pennsylvania. The land was perfect for what he had in mind with easy access to major highways. He pulled the trigger and the Alpine Motorsport Club was born. Richard promptly consulted with prominent track designer and safety expert, Alan Wilson, the man responsible for tracks such as BeaveRun, Gingerman, Mont-Tremblant, and Miller Motorsport Park among others, about what his club would look like and feel, and how the project would get built.
As fast as Richard’s project became a reality, so too did the Blue Mountain Preservation Association. The association was created with sole purpose to fight Richard and the creation of Alpine. The battle in the Monroe County courts has been well documented and hard fought. Each time Alpine won a new battle, Blue Mountain Preservation posed new challenges which consisted mostly of distorted truths about the impact such a facility would have on the environment, commerce, and traffic in the sleepy scenic town.
Tony and Paul Matinho are father and son motorsport enthusiasts. Paul and Tony took a ride out to Eldred Township to see the property and meet with Richard in 2006. Paul knew something special could be created out in Eldred and knew he wanted part of it. In the end, Richard sold the project to the Matinhos but remained as a consultant on the project.
On August 25th, 2011, Alpine has won its final battle in the courts and with it, the war. A deal was reached with the town that there will never be any sanctioned racing events at Alpine. The emphasis at Alpine is private driving enjoyment by its members. Final permits and approvals are now in hand and the construction will soon be under way.
Carving out a path through the thickly wooded acreage of Eldred, Richard and Alan Wilson managed to lay out the course. I was privileged to be invited out to Alpine for a day with Richard and the Matinhos. I spent some time in the temporary club house and saw the full scale model of the track which Richard built himself. He explained the track and facilities layouts and then we went for a tour of the grounds.
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Going through turn one at 5mph in Richard’s SUV over a dirt road is not quite how anyone would envision a race track. Driving with Richard, however, one really gets a sense of the track layout. Through the turns marked on posts, the dramatic elevation changes, and his description of the facilities, it is a feeling one might get while traveling into the future. Nine configurations, 220 feet of elevation changes, 28 turns, 4.2 miles of track – one can’t help but feel that this is going to be awesome.
Recently another important person was out to see what was going on in Eldred. His name is Chris Keane, CEO of Tag Heuer’s Track Intelligence division. Tag Heuer has been involved with Formula 1 since the seventies and they have developed timing technology for the world’s best tracks. Chris spent the day at Alpine going over the plans, the site, and meeting with the Matinhos and Richard. Chris liked what he saw in Eldred, and will be sending Tag Heuer’s latest gear to Alpine.
After twenty years, months in courts, hundreds of hours in design, Richard’s concept is finally coming to realization. For now there are these pictures and virtual ride through this race track. We will continue to watch the progress of construction and look forward to one day experiencing in real life. In the mean time check out Alpine Motorsport Club’s website and the below simulation video.
[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/28830392[/vimeo]
Manny Antunes is a lover of BMWs and Toyota trucks. He wrenches (on the bimmers, Toyotas don’t need wrenchin’), attends track events, and enjoys motorsports. He is also into bicycling (banana outfit n’ all) and spending time with his wife, kids, and dogs.  -KK

By |2011-09-28T11:00:59+00:00September 28th, 2011|In General|33 Comments

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33 Comments

  1. nofrillls September 28, 2011 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    I have only one question: How does one go about joining this fine club?
    I'm hoping that turns out to be an option for those of us in the Northeast.

    • OA5599 September 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm - Reply
      • nofrillls September 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm - Reply

        Whoa. $10,000 is more of an investment than a membership fee.
        Not that I don't see the rationality in it, but that's a serious commitment for the occasional track day.

        • M5Manny September 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm - Reply

          Think of it this way, if you had a half million dollar Ferrari or $200K Porsche, would you want somebody in a Subaru WRX stuffing you into a wall?? No? didn't think so…. Those millionaires can do that all on their own 😉
          Seriously, if I had the cash and just wanted to store my Lambo or other track car up there for me to go up and drive it at my leisure without worry of damage to it, Alpine would be my place!

        • OA5599 September 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm - Reply

          If you have six Ferraris, a Lambo, a Viper, and two Porsches, the cost of membership and an on-site garage is a relative pittance for the ability to play with your toys without getting sued when you eventually crash.
          If you have a more affordable street car you take to the track every chance you get, the membership puts a dent in your finances, but you find other things to sacrifice.
          If you just want to put your car on the track once every 18 months or so, this probably isn't for you, but then, if you played golf that infrequently, you wouldn't join a country club, either. Make friends with a member and utilize the guest privileges.

        • nofrillls September 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm - Reply

          Yeah, honestly, I think it's great for those of that kind of means. Cool stuff, and a high-ranking pipe dream for many of us gearheads.
          For us laypeople though (and this lay-guy in New England), there are better options out there, such as a few hundred $ for a track day at Lime Rock Park. Better value for the sub-$50k car owner who will only use occaisonally.

  2. yellofury September 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    Is this going to be like the place Top Gear stayed at when they were testing the Ferrari,SLS, and the Porsche on the way to NYC?
    If so that would be awesome
    I hope all goes well for this project

    • BGW September 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      That was VIR, which is capable of holding actual, professional auto racing (and actually does, the opinion of some folks towards Grand Am notwithstanding). This place looks like another Monticello Motor Club- a quite nice place for rich gentlemen to play with their toys, and the occasional SCCA/NASA regional event, but well short of "professional" grade.
      More power to them, though. Opening a new road course facility is a Sisyphean task anymore. I look at what the folks behind Dragon's Ridge here in VA went through and all they have to show for it 10 years later is a couple hundred feet of dirt road.

      • yellofury September 28, 2011 at 7:59 pm - Reply

        Wasnt there also a place in Europe that took all the worlds most famous chicanes and esses and placed them on a members only track?

  3. OA5599 September 28, 2011 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    "I spent some time in the temporary club house and saw the full scale model of the track which Richard built himself."
    Is it a gigantic club house or will the track be really tiny? It seems like a big waste of legal resources to battle over something that couldn't handle anything bigger than a slot car. An indoor racetrack would be cool, though.

    • M5Manny September 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm - Reply

      The track is huge! 300 acres holds access to lots of track real estate 😉

      • svrba September 19, 2012 at 10:09 am - Reply

        Not when a lot of that acreage is too steep to build on . . . .

    • Kamil_K September 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm - Reply

      Uhmm, we made a booboo. Sorry. 🙂
      Yea, 1:1 scale model would be kind of pointless.

      • mudmonster September 28, 2011 at 4:07 pm - Reply

        You say pointless, I say that's perfect

        • M5Manny September 28, 2011 at 5:49 pm - Reply

          Hi Will!!! Glad to see you over here ;-))

  4. M5Manny September 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    The club house will be huge. Not as big as the car garages, control tour, restaurant, but big enough to house 400+ member's personal belongings.

  5. M5Manny September 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    The best part of the story, I left out. The Matinhos and Dick sent a Porsche Club member in his new Porsche 911GT3RS to pick up Chris Keane(Tag Heuer track intelligence) from Newark Airport. They took the road less traveled to Alpine. Chris is a good guy and been around tracks almost his whole life. Needless to say, Tag is now an official supporter of Alpine.

  6. Tomsk September 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Is the video freezing at 31 seconds in for anyone else? The video on the track's Web site works okay, and I must say, it looks like a fun place, especially Turn 7 (the uphill left).
    Also: I'd like to extend a warm Hooniversal welcome to you, Mr. Antunes!

    • M5Manny September 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks Tom. I look forward to bringing everyone here some valuable(Complete hooligan nonsense) auto related (or not) information. 😉

      • mdharrell September 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm - Reply

        Glad to hear it! Complete hooligan nonsense, mostly auto related, is what keeps me coming back.
        Well, that and the fabulous prizes.

        • Smells_Homeless September 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm - Reply

          The prizes are indeed pretty fab.

          • M5Manny September 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm

            Prizes?? Damn…

          • FЯeeMan September 28, 2011 at 9:00 pm

            Donuts. Somebody said there would be donuts.

          • pj134 September 29, 2011 at 6:51 am

            Where the fuck are these donuts dammit?!?
            Somebody gonna have to choke a Mitch.

  7. mattc September 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    While I am (admittedly) not in the target demographic financially, I do love that there is another legal, safe option for those stretching out their respective sports cars. What aggravates me in this article, is that the resistance of this project took on monumental proportions and the trio spent countless wasted hours and time fighting this. I am not saying that the neighboring community does not have a say in what should be built, but it was obvious to me thta this would actually bring in some money to the area. ( reminder they are not strip mining, fracking, or doing any dubious environmental damage). In fact, it seems like Richard had/has a very specific blueprint for the cluba and consulted with the best professionals in this area.

  8. mattc September 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    that-sp

  9. UDman September 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    Hasn't this already been done in Montecello, New York?

    • mudmonster September 28, 2011 at 6:44 pm - Reply

      Yes, that would be Montcello Motor Club.

    • M5Manny September 29, 2011 at 7:07 am - Reply

      Monticello couldn't sell enough memberships so they had to turn to some racing and club events. Something Alpine will never do.
      Monticello also does not have the facilities Alpine will have. Future plans also include a lux hotel to be built on site.

  10. Lee Palmiter October 10, 2011 at 7:00 am - Reply

    Hello Manny and Friends.
    My name is Lee Palmiter and I am involved with Dick Muller and the Matinhos on the Alpine Launch Team as a technical consultant.
    I'd be very pleased to provide some highlights of the track from a technical, driver's perspective; and also expand upon our (Dick's) vision of what membership at Alpine actually means.
    It is inevitable that Alpine will be measured against other existing facilities, but we feel that the notion of a private club facility will be fully realized as originally defined, with Alpine.
    By the way, here is a correct embed link to the Alpine Track visualization:
    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/29482368?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=ffffff&quot; width="400" height="225" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen allowFullScreen></iframe>fin-fin8 from M3D on Vimeo.
    This animation was created from the original engineering, so it is essentially accurate to the real world.
    Thanks for you comments on Alpine! We are truly grateful to have a mention here on Hooniverse and hope to see at least some of you at the track!!
    In sport,
    Lee

  11. Nick T. October 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    $10,000 is pretty cheap actually. $10,000 is about what it costs in fuel, lodging, tires and other wear and tear parts to run a measly spec miata for one season in SCCA or NASA. It's probably a teaser price to gain momentum. Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL initially had a similar membership price. Now, it costs like $50k for a membership. A new private track club in Palm Springs has set basic membership at $250,000. When people talk about a few hundred dollars for a track day at ViR or some other track that really just means a "street car day" and there are so many restrictions as to how hard you can push and limited time. Most regional SCCA or NASA race entry fees begin at $300-400 and go up from there. A full season of running will easily see you spend $5,000 in entry fees, dues, testing fees, etc. So, $10k really isn't that much. Also, if you're really a true enthusiast, next time you buy a car, instead of spending say $45k on a used M3 or even 30k on a new MX-5 that you'll never be able to drive hard and get something less expensive. Use the savings for a membership and maybe a cheap track day car. Second hand race cars are going for peanuts these days.
    Anyway, hopefully this operation really has the funding to build this. Can't count how many projects or races have died on the vine with big dreams and no capital, having failed to secure investors or charter members.

  12. Tennessee Property July 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    I would love to find a property in Tennessee for something like this!

  13. sdrawkcab July 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    I remember working on Dick’s brochures back in 1997 when it was called Formula Mortorsports Park. He was so dedicated to it. Sad to see 20 years later his dream still hasn’t become a reality. Looks like Pennsylvania Game Commission bought his Alpine Motorsports Club property in 2013.

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