The Garage Mahal
The GSD Racing team can take in some big-screen NASCAR while they relax or work in their race track garage.
Packed with plasmas, media servers, surround sound and multi-room audio, this Grand Prix garage was built for more than just cars.
They call it the Garage Mahal. And we’re not talking about yet another home theater appropriating a space normally reserved for automobiles. There are still cars in this garage, and the surround-sound system is relegated to a living space on the second floor.
The 6,000-square-foot garage is all about high-adrenaline entertainment. It’s one of several garages located on an amateur racing track at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL. Autobahn members race their cars on a 3.56-mile Grand Prix circuit—and garage owners Dennis Hiffman and Tom Collins wanted more than just a place where they could tinker with their prized automobiles for their team, GSD Racing (for Greasy Side Down).
Builder Patrick Lee of Lee Construction Services in Gary, IN, was contacted to build the structure, and when the owners said they wanted an entertainment system and a camera on the roof to help catch the racing action, Baumeister Electronic Architects of Niles, IL, was called in. “This garage has the most advanced technology of any garage at the course,” says Lee.
The garage and an office take up the first floor, while a 1,200-square-foot living space including a living room, kitchen and two bedrooms is on the second floor. A 42-inch plasma HDTV with Artisan speakers attached to the sides and in-ceiling SpeakerCraft speakers, along with a Denon receiver, provide the home theater revs for post-racing downtime.
In addition, a Crestron Adagio control and audio distribution system routes music from a ReQuest hard drive media server to five more areas, including the two bedrooms, the garage, the office and a deck overlooking the track. Each audio zone is also equipped with SpeakerCraft in-ceiling and on-wall speakers.
Downstairs in the garage, a 55-inch Fujitsu plasma is mounted in the corner, with four SpeakerCraft speakers mounted in each corner, so Hiffman and Collins can tune out while they tune up their cars. Another plasma is in the office. The audio and video are controlled by three Crestron in-wall touchpanels with 4-inch LCD screens—located in the living room, garage and office—as well as three Crestron handheld ML-600 remotes.
But for the owners, the best piece of electronics in this powerful entertainment engine may be the Panasonic video camera mounted to the roof, which allows them to see various views of the race track on their plasma screens. Ten presets focus on certain turns and command the camera to pan or zoom to certain locations on the track. An RS-232 connection on the camera allows it to be controlled by the Crestron system, so the owners just have to select one of the presets via a Crestron control.
“At first we thought the camera was for security reasons, but we finally realized it was for watching the track,” says John Baumeister of Baumeister Electronic Architects. The video from the camera is put through a Key Digital video router, upgrading it from composite to component video. “It’s not an HD camcorder, but it shows some phenomenal resolution,” Baumeister adds.
Baumeister Electronic Architects
Lee Construction Services
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