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Automotive Traveler Magazine: 2011 01 Honda Proving Grounds Page 1

Not Found on eBay: Automotive Proving Grounds in California

Ever imagine yourself the owner of a private race track? If so, the CBRE commercial real estate office in Bakersfield, California has just the piece of property for you. Sam Fiorani describes the dream.

Remember the last time you spotted that prize you just had to have, even though it was just out of your financial reach? And the idea that popped into your mind was joint-ownership. Get a friend or two, perhaps a parent, and split the cost of the purchase. It's brilliant! You'd get to enjoy this fantastic thing, and you'd only have to pay for a fraction of the ultimate cost.

Okay, now, what if--and I'm just postulating here--what if the item in question was slightly more than "just out of your financial reach"? And that the high price of this item was far outweighed by the enjoyment you know you'll get from it?!

Winning Powerball or MegaMillions is too unpredictable. Venture capitalists simply won't back your little venture, because there's no way you'll be making much money on it. Do you have, say, a million friends? If I gathered my Facebook friends and Twitter followers, we'd still need to chip in a small five-figure investment... each.

This is a great opportunity! (Yes, I'm talking to you, dear reader!)

No, it's not another BMW with impeccable racing heritage or a long-lost concept car restored to better-than-new condition. This is so much better.

Located in Cantil, California is a small parcel of property measuring about 4,255 acres. (Farmland in this region runs about $1,000/acre, but it is rumored that the seller in question has invested many times that amount into the property.)

The previous owner treated it poorly, trashing cars, trucks, and motorcycles on all corners of the land. If you look carefully, I'm sure you can find broken pieces of vehicles on the pavement and among the sand dunes.

Yes, pavement. It's a good thing the property is in Southern California, just west of the Mojave Desert, because it would take all of us and our assorted shovels days to clear the snow from the miles of pavement. Miles and miles scattered among eight different tracks, including a 54-foot-wide roadway on a 7.5-mile oval and 24-foot-wide asphalt on a 4.5-mile winding road.

There's also a 197-foot skid pad, 1.5 miles of dirt road, and 1.3 miles of dirt desert trail, not including a few motocross and supercross courses.

Lest you think it's just a big piece of open land, it has buildings, too. No fewer than seven, in fact, including a car wash, a firehouse, some 10,000 square feet of office space, and about 25,000 square feet of storage space.

Of the 4,200-plus acres, roughly 3,800 of them have been "disturbed," as the buyer's notice says. This allows the new owner to do pretty much as he pleases. No environmental studies needed. Just beware of the occasional desert tortoise that may wander by.

To keep out any ne'er-do-wells who might want to loiter on the premises, the previous owner thoughtfully designed the entranceway with a 1.5-mile driveway, gate, and automated security system.

Around the perimeter of this parcel of land are a manmade berm and an assortment of trees that serve as a screen, as well as chain-link and barbed-wire fences.

To keep you on the inside, all necessities have been provided. From paved parking for you and your friends' 90 cars to three underground storage tanks for unleaded gas to four above-ground fuel tanks (two unleaded, two diesel). Generators provide 1,600-amp service. Four active wells bring water to four of the buildings. Two septic tanks take care of the dirty work.

That previous owner I mentioned above was some small car and motorcycle maker named Honda, or something like that. But it's us as the property's collective new owners that you should be thinking about!

Just imagine: You, me, and about 10,000 of our closest friends digging deep into our pockets for just a few thousand dollars apiece. We could drive like it was rented. We could see if the needle actually does hit that number on the far right of the speedo. We could act like Travis Pastrana or A.J. Foyt or Paul Newman, and not worry about the federales pulling us over!

Are you in?

For more information on this opportunity, call Jeffery Andrew at (661) 633-3827 or write to him at Jeff.Andrew@CBRE.com. A brochure outlining the property is available for download.

For those of you looking for the perfect birthday gift for Sam Fiorani, please read above.