Almost everything outside the window of John Morris’s helicopter is his or will be his soon. When the semiretired internet entrepreneur bought the original Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in 2004, here in the desert town of Pahrump, Nev., it was a 2.2-mile racetrack with a couple of spectator tents and porta-potties. The gate to the place wasn’t much more than a swiveling lead pipe.
It’s not a secret lair, though, and it’s quickly becoming a playground for the world’s wealthiest racing enthusiasts. The Spring Mountain Motor Resort & Country Club is the brainchild of multimillionaire entrepreneur John Morris, an iconoclast in the mold of peers like Richard Branson or Elon Musk. He bought the burgeoning Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch racetrack in 2004 and recently paid $5 million for an adjoining property to accomplish an ambitious plan: building the world’s longest professional racetrack.
Currently, the longest track is Germany’s Nürburgring, the legendary 13.1-mile circuit in Nürburg, near the Belgian border, which includes sections of public road and isn’t open for racing most of the year. When he’s finished, Morris will have at least 15 miles of private track just 45 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. He claims that Pahrump, population 36,441, is the “fastest-growing town in the U.S. for its size” (a January tourism office press release only commits to Pahrump being “a sleepy desert town on the rise”) and that the property was a great deal. He paid $5 million for it, including 3 acres that front Route 160, the main road from Las Vegas to Death Valley, which annually handles an average of 1.7 million tourists.
In addition, the mogul is building a community of luxury homes, a hotel, restaurants, theaters and car washes, all to provide a friendly haven for racing fans. It’s even a bit futuristic — nearby Lake Spring Mountain features a destination called Jetpack America, which offers travelers and residents a state-of-the-art flying experience featuring the world’s first water jetpacks. (Fun fact: there’s an online video featuring Morris taking an unexpected launch into the lake. Google “Jetpack Fail.” We’ll wait).
There are also two highly exclusive driving schools on the property. Professional racecar champion Ron Fellows has brought his performance driving school to Spring Mountain, featuring state-of-the-art Corvettes and other performance vehicle. The other brand to grace the racetrack is the Cadillac V-Series Performance Academy, which offers an exclusive opportunity to test the company’s CTS-V and ATS-V models; the company even offers complimentary enrollment, airfare and a 2-day stay at the resort for every vehicle purchased.
Hotel rooms and track time isn’t the only way Spring Mountain generates revenue. Morris also sells property, completed homes, and performance race cars as well as renting the track out to manufacturers and racing teams for testing and practice. But it’s not cheap. Memberships to Spring Mountain reportedly cost $45,000 to join and $5,000 a year in dues, none of which fazes Spring Mountain’s clientele in the slightest. At least one member purchased eight cars and a house the day he became a member. It’s a community like no other, as Morris recently told Bloomberg.
“We’ll end up with our own city, and we can do whatever the hell we want,” Morris said.
Spring Mountain’s most famous member (that we know of—there are celebrities who’ve succeeded in remaining anonymous) was Oliver Prinz von Anholt, a son of Zsa Zsa Gabor’s who died in a motorcycle accident in Los Angeles in December. Jeffrey Cheng, 53, a private equity investor from Newport Beach, Calif., who races a Wolf, says: “Spring Mountain is an adult Disneyland. We race cars, we go off-roading, we shoot big guns, we jet pack, we play with remote-control boats and cars, we fly drones, we fly planes, we fly helicopters. When you want a great dinner and some nightlife, you’re only a 40-minute drive from Las Vegas. Who can beat that?” Alain Derzie, a laparoscopic and general surgeon who lives in Manhattan and drives a Radical, made his first pilgrimage to Spring Mountain in 2004 to attend Corvette’s driving school. He became a member in 2012. “When John says he’s going to do something, he does it,” says Derzie, 48. “He said, ‘I’m gonna build a lake.’ I said, ‘What?’ He built a lake. Every year there’s something new.”
At this point, the only thing holding up the latest expansion is a mandatory waiting period for public comments, which Morris expects to wrap up soon. Local officials declined to comment on the plans, though Arlette Ledbetter, the town’s tourism director, says, “This project is extremely important to the Pahrump economy, and we look forward to working with John Morris and his team.” Morris gazes out on the sprawling scrub. “I want to incorporate our own city two years from now,” he says. People keep suggesting Morrisville, in jest, but he has a better idea. “We’re looking at Race Town, Nevada.”
For more information on Spring Mountain Motor Resort & Country Club, visit www.springmountainmotorsports.com.