Autobahn Country Club
Location Joliet, IL
Track Configuration 3.531-mile, 19-turn (8 lefts, 11 rights) Full Circuit
Elevation Change 18 fee
Longest Straight 1,850 feet
Other Facilities 2.1-mile South Circuit, 1.5-mile North Circuit, Karting Circuit, skidpad, Off-Road course, club membership, clubhouse, members garages, meeting and event rooms, award-winning catering, high-speed wi-fi, Defensive Driving and High Performance driving schools
One thing about working for a car magazine is that you’re guaranteed to never be able to afford to join a private country club. Not that we really care if it relates to golf, spreading caviar on tiny pieces of stale bread or rubbing shoulders with guys named Thurston and Biff. But if that private country club is built around a top-notch motorsports facility and we happened to live in the Chicago area, you might just catch us cashing in our 401Ks to pay the $35,000 initiation fee at the Autobahn Country Club.
If you don’t have that kind of cheddar burning a hole in your pocket, don’t worry — you can still experience Autobahn at one of the lapping events held there (by clubs like LAPS Incorporated) or even a time attack from the burgeoning Global Time Attack series (which teamed up with NASA for its Autobahn event back in September). What you’ll find is a truly impressive facility with a 40-foot-wide racing surface with plenty of runoff area for those overzealous members who mistake their left foot for that of Sebastian Vettel’s. Although the Full Circuit is relatively flat, there’s a flight-inducing hillcrest on the long straightaway between turns 12 and 13 (where even rear-engine Porsches can catch some air). There are other areas with subtle elevation change that add a bit of interest, but don’t let Autobahn’s relative flatness fool you into thinking it’s an easy circuit to master. With 19 turns, many of which are “bundled” into tricky corner complexes (a trademark of track designer Alan Wilson’s work), if you’re anything like us it’ll take you more than a day or two to fully explore the speed potential this place offers.
Our favorite part of the track is the south section, running down to Patience (turns 9 and 10) from the deceivingly quick left-hand turn 3 (the one spot on the track where the walls aren’t far off). Turn 4 is deceptively fast, thanks to the banking in the corner that allows entry speeds of 90+ mph. The double-apex turn 6 is also a courage-tester, since getting a good launch out of it sets you up for the fast run down through The Kink on the way into turn 8. It’s easy to carry too much speed into 8 (don’t ask us how we know), and, as its name implies, you do need to be very patient with the gas pedal as you exit turn 10 onto the first of the two long straights that follow.
And, hey, if you ever hit your Powerball numbers, there’s room for club members to build their own personal Garage Mahal, something the Autobahn is well known for. Point your web browser to autobahngarage.com to see what we’re talking about. You’ll be equal parts impressed and jealous if you’re anything like us.