Shooting Lessons at the Thermal Club

Shooting Lessons at the Thermal Club

Written By: Larry Chen

June 13, 2018

The idea of the country club is to allow those who are affluent enough to afford the high cost of entry a place where they can get away, golf and socialize in peace. A place where they don’t have to deal with the commoners blocking their par shot.

But what if you have money to burn, and golf isn’t your jam? What if you enjoy tracking your car but want to do it privately? That’s the idea behind Thermal Club.

Like most of these wonderlands, membership to the race track country club requires you to purchase land around the circuit in order to build a house. That’s why you’ll see multimillion dollar homes surrounding the circuit.

People are building there knowing there is a race track because it’s a requirement of being a part of the club. It also helps that it’s a motorsports oasis in the middle of an open desert, so the likelihood of another affluent, but race track hating homeowner threatening to close down the track next year is very low.

By joining this exclusive club, one shows the world that racing and track days are a part of your lifestyle. Many of the homes around the track are their own Garage Mahals with space to fill as many as 30 cars or more.

The housing part of it, while still lavish, isn’t the focus of these homes. It’s all about the cars. The enthusiasts who are a part of this amazing club are all car people of many different genres with distinct tastes in cars. It’s a petrol head’s dream that these people are living each and every day.

When Canon asked me to host a motorsports and automotive photography workshop, I knew the perfect location. I was ecstatic when Thermal allowed me to use their very unique facility. There was no other place that could allow me to demonstrate the many different ways to shoot cars in one single spot.

We shot a real race before going over to one of the garages to take pictures of McLarens in a multimillion dollar home. The next moment, we were shooting with the picturesque background of Thermal, CA and its mountains and foothills.

Then we could shoot more racing on the track before ending the day shooting a drift car. All with brand new Canon cameras and lenses, including the very same equipment I use, made available to the students to rent. They were also allowed to print their photos on a Canon large format printer at the end of the day to take home with them.

The important lesson I was teaching was how to shoot so many ways while enduring a full day. Carrying the equipment around, moving from spot to spot, gathering cars to shoot, and even setting up the cameras for the vastly different shooting techniques.

These were all lessons I had to learn on my own and now I was teaching people, many who have never shot cars before, about it. Many were surprised by how much work it can be, but they still thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the experience as a whole.

It also helped that I brought along some amazing cars like the McLaren 570S Spyder. I also brought along my own cars, Ole Orange Bang the Nissan 240Z and my Porsche 911 Turbo. Peter Brock was gracious enough to allow us to use his personal and original Daytona Coupe, so that was a truly unique experience for us all.

Hert came out to show off the new version of Twerkstallion, his 1991 Mazda FC RX-7 with its new 13B-REW setup. Roush Performance also allowed us to use a brand new Ford Mustang Roush Stage Three, a 670-horsepower and supercharged variant of the pony car.

Now, we have a new set of enthusiasts who not only appreciate cars but can now go out and shoot far better than they had before.

While they may not be able to afford the entry to it, the Thermal Club gave them an amazing automotive playground for a background. They were able to shoot cars they might not ever have the chance to and it was a great experience for my first ever photography workshop, thanks to Canon.

Who wants to join me on the next one?