In the Catskill Mountains region during the 1920s through the 1970s, the greater area around the village of Monticello, N.Y. was home to more than 400 hotels that mostly served vacationing families, as was shown in the movie, “Dirty Dancing.” The most famous of the hotels – the Concord, Nevele, Grossinger’s, and Kutscher’s – headlined famous entertainers, including Buddy Hackett, Joan Rivers, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Billy Crystal, Rodney Dangerfield, and Jerry Lewis.
In the 1950s, Dr. Carl K. Heinz, a beloved local physician and avid pilot, opened the Monticello Airport. Runway “1/19” was 2,595 feet and followed what is today’s main straight from the hangar turn to the kink. A second runway, “15/33”, was 2,072 feet and ran along what is today’s south straight past MMC’s clubhouse. From the 1970s until 2005, the airport was managed by Dr. Heinz’s daughter, Ms. Karen Barone, who is still MMC’s neighbor.
The property was purchased by MMC Club Co-Founders John Barker and Paul Queally, and two developers associated with the local Concord Hotel property, Michael Kaplan and Henry Zabatta. In May 2006, their “Drive and Race Club” site plan was approved for development by the Town of Thompson, and several Founding members joined. In 2007, two current members, Bill McMichael and Ari Straus, purchased Michael Kaplan’s and Henry Zabatta’s positions in the Drive and Race Club. In 2008, the Club was renamed “Monticello Motor Club.”
MMC has continued to expand to serve the 500+ individuals and family members who enjoy exclusive membership privileges. Since its launch, MMC has completed several major construction projects, including a member clubhouse, bridge, several private garage facilities, service center, fuel pumps, karting track with kart service and storage, a wet skid pad, an off-road campus, and a family center overlooking the karting facilities. While several race tracks have mimicked MMC with their own “Driver Club” offerings to complement their primary business as public rental facilities, MMC is proud to be recognized by enthusiasts, racers, race track designers, and fellow track owners as the World’s Premier Automotive Playground.
Today, Paul Queally serves as MMC’s chairman and principal partner, and Ari Straus continues to serve as its CEO and managing partner. Paul and Ari intend to continue growing MMC to its cap of 750 membership licenses, and anticipate their children, respectively Brian and Aurora – both motorsports enthusiasts and racers – to continue the dream for generations.
MMC’s driving track is comprised of 4.1 miles of pristine asphalt. The most common configuration, the “Full Course”, is 3.6 miles long, with 20 turns and 450 feet of elevation changes.
The full track was designed by Brian Redman in partnership with Bruce Hawkins, an engineer with PS&S. PS&S designed VIR and NJMP. In 2007, MMC engaged the services of well-known, active professional racers, including our own Nick Longhi, who reviewed and modified some sections of the track.
In 2011, MMC engaged Tony Cotman, from FIA and IndyCar, to provide modifications required to achieve an FIA Grade 2 certification that would enable MMC to host professional races. Those suggested changes were incorporated into an updated master site plan that was approved by the Village of Monticello in 2013.
Brian Redman is a world-famous driving champion and winner of 77 races in 12 countries. He is one of the racing world’s most accomplished and respected figures, and a Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee. Mr. Redman has competed in Formula racing, open-wheelers, Can-Am, IMSA, and FIA. He has driven for a wide variety of famous factory teams including Aston Martin, BMW, BRM, Chevron, Cooper, Ferrari, Ford, Jaguar, Lola, Mazda, McLaren, Porsche, Shadow, and Surtees.
A preeminent architect of next-generation race tracks, Bruce Hawkins is the senior vice president of the Civil Engineering Department at Paulus, Sokolowski & Sartor, LLC (PS&S), an architecture and engineering firm based in Warren, N.J. He has been with PS&S since 1980, and has contributed to high profile projects including the Bridgewater Promenade, Borgata Hotel & Casino, and Arm & Hammer Park – home of the Trenton Thunder.