It is a country club for gearheads, minus the country, but Afshin Montazeri prefers not to describe the Paddock Motor Club to potential members at all. Instead, he likes to show them.
It’s located in an anonymous industrial unit in Burlington. There is no sign, no obvious entrance. The door is unlocked by keycard. Inside, the space is enormous. It has everything: a movie theatre, a bar, a garage with a couple hoists, a cigar lounge, a barbershop area, golf simulators, a room filled with four serious-looking racing simulators, a restaurant, a conference room, a space for displaying and washing cars, and a shop stocked with gloves, bags and luxurious Ferrari-branded clothing. Everything is spotless and new.
“There’s so many car guys and they have nowhere to go,” says Montazeri. “To me, there is a need for it…. I just want to go somewhere, be amongst car guys and talk about cars. I want to smell gasoline. I want to do a burnout!” He says “guys” although there is one female member.
The Paddock Motor Club officially opened in June, roughly three years after breaking ground on this dedicated facility. There are already 50 members out of a planned maximum of 300. Individual memberships cost $10,000 annually, family memberships will cost slightly more, and corporate memberships – open to automotive or lifestyle-related brands – are capped at 30 and cost $25,000. Some automakers and parts suppliers, including Brembo brakes, have already joined, Montazeri says.
He found one similar automotive clubhouse in Japan, but there’s nothing else quite like Paddock Motor Club in Canada. The closest point of reference would be places like Area 27 in British Columbia, Monticello Motor Club in New York or Ascari in Spain. However, all of those are based around racetracks. You go there to drive. The Paddock Motor Club has no racetrack. It’s simply about the shared obsession with all things automotive. It’s also significantly less expensive than membership at those private tracks. For example, the Ascari Club costs roughly $33,000 to join for the first year.
John Gnocato was the first to join Montazeri’s new gearhead country-club. He describes what he does by many titles, but eventually settles on simply: entrepreneur. His car-collection includes a Ferrari 430 Scuderia which he regularly takes to the track, a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, and a 1926 Bugatti recreation.
“Dealers have sort of stepped in to bring car people together, but they’re a brand, all about launching new cars,” Gnocato said. “I think what Paddock does is it makes cars a universal experience, not about what you drive but your passion.”
Members show up in everything from a restored 1955 Ford pickup to modern supercars including the Ferrari Enzo and Porsche 918.
Gnocato brings friends and family to the club, and spends time in the racing simulators – $75,000 apiece – driving every track of the Formula 1 season before watching the races. Test-driving Acura’s NSX hybrid supercar has been his favourite experience at the club so far.
“Acura partnered with Paddock,” he explains, “We had lunch and then I took [the NSX] for a test drive with my son. We each drove one…. I never would’ve even taken it for a test drive before that.”
Montazeri has big plans for Paddock to organize more bucket-list experiences, like a group trip to a Formula 1 race, or travel to Germany to drive the famous Nurburgring Nordschliefe circuit.
“I know a lot of guys want to learn how to weld, but never had an opportunity,” Montazeri says. “So I’ll have a couple welders from trade schools bring six welders in on a Sunday morning, you have breakfast here, you spend four hours and by the end of it you’ll have a good idea how to weld.”
Formula 1 races are broadcast in the theatre. “If you’re here during the Brazilian Grand Prix,” he says, “our chef will make foods of Brazil.”
If you geek out about cars in polite company – among normal people who don’t have strong feelings about the pros and cons of forced-induction – eyes do tend to glaze over quite quickly.
Geekdom of every sort has largely been driven online, where there is infinite space to rant and debate and gossip: YouTube, online forums, the bottomless scroll of Instagram, Facebook and Car Twitter. Paddock Motor Club makes that virtual fandom real, allowing enthusiasts to share not just on Instagram but in the garage.
You can watch as many how-to videos as you like, but wrenching on a car with your buddies is a completely different experience, and for Paddock members, one worth paying for.