Scarborough car club owners hit the gas

Jamie Nonni, part-owner of Throttle Car Club shows off the display lobby of the new club, located on the Downs property in Scarborough, and a 1955 Chevrolet pickup truck that belongs to one of the club’s members. Nonni said he plans to rotate display vehicles in the lobby. Sean Murphy / The Forecaster

Jamie Nonni has been a self-described car buff for the past 30 years and he’s as passionate about the new car club he co-created in Scarborough as he is about anything with four wheels.

On June 26, it was clear to him and his business partners that others shared the passion too. At an open house preceding the soft opening of Throttle Car Club, about 350 people showed up.

“It was jam-packed,” he said this week.

The new space, located at 10 Dynamic Drive, on the Downs property in Scarborough, officially opened for business on July 3 and so far, Nonni said, the club has nearly 70 members.

“This idea, I think it’ll be a successful idea,” he said.

The building has been under construction for about a year now, the brainchild of Nonni, of Falmouth, who previously built and ran a successful electronic payment processing company, and childhood friends Derek Parent of Cumberland, who has a background in hospitality and construction, and Kevin Gross, a Boylston, Massachusetts, resident who has worked for the past 30 years in the automotive industry.

The 35,000-square-foot building has a function space the club will rent out for events of up to 100 people or more. There is also a “members only” area that includes a bar, racing and golf simulators and other amenities.

The club will lease out a 5,000-square-foot space in the back of the building as offices, but perhaps the biggest single part of the building is the garage: a 15,000-square-foot storage area decked out in black, red and gray checkerboard flooring.

On Tuesday, there were only a few members’ vehicles there, including an MG, a old Chevrolet pickup truck and a custom “rat rod” roadster, but Nonni said that will change when the weather gets colder and the  moves in racks to store cars on top of each other for the season.

“In the wintertime, you could probably push this to 100 cars,” he said of the room’s capacity.

Basic memberships cost $1,800 a year for one person and a guest. In addition to the club’s lounge space, members also get access to a detail shop for indoor cleaning, and for $50 more per month, they can use the shop’s lifts and tools to work on their vehicles. Storage costs extra, and rates vary with the season, Nonni said.

Gino Falconieri, 48, a Portland firefighter who lives in Scarborough, was one of the club’s first members. He said he used to race motorcycles, but has moved on to cars, recently buying a 2016 McLaren 650S Spider.

“I had no idea Throttle was even opening when I bought it, so it was a pleasant surprise,” he said.

Falconieri said he will definitely store the car at the club this winter, but added that it was more than just a place for cars. He plans to take full advantage of the social space the club offers.

“The car club is a community,” he said. It’s a cool thing. It’ll be a fun place to hang out.”

Steve Thibodeau, 54, a sergeant with the Scarborough Police Sergeant and a Scarborough resident, is also one of the club’s new members. He and his wife, Paulette, are both car buffs, he said. Between them, they’ve driven more than 30 cars throughout their 28-year marriage, and their current summertime vehicle is a 2014 Corvette convertible in a color the car company calls “Laguna blue.”

He said both he and his wife liked the idea of a local car club immediately. “It seemed to fit,” he said.

But like Falconieri, Thibodeau said he’s looking forward to the social aspect of belonging to a club full of people that have a built-in common hobby.

“I think we’ll meet some interesting people,” he said.

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