The MX5 Cup Race Car based on the Mazda Miata is owned by Tom McDonald.

The MX5 Cup Race Car based on the Mazda Miata is owned by Tom McDonald.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Behind the Wheel: M1 Concourse brings car enthusiasts together in an automotive environment

By: Maria Allard | Metro | Published August 23, 2023

 Tom McDonald, of Rochester Hills, has decorated this garage condominium at the M1 Concourse to reflect his love for cars.

Tom McDonald, of Rochester Hills, has decorated this garage condominium at the M1 Concourse to reflect his love for cars.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Tom McDonald’s 1957 Porsche Speedster is a very rare car.

Tom McDonald’s 1957 Porsche Speedster is a very rare car.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


METRO DETROIT — Tom McDonald has been around cars his entire life.

“Growing up, I could tell every car by the sound of the motor,” he said.

As a family man with a wife and four daughters, McDonald worked in automotive communication for more than 50 years.

Now retired, McDonald can often be found at his favorite spot in town: the M1 Concourse in Pontiac.

The 87-acre M1 Concourse — located at the northwest corner of Woodward Avenue and South Boulevard — is known as a premier destination for automotive entertainment and recreation. The concourse is a community of private car condominiums with living rooms and kitchenettes. Each car condo garage features two-story open spaces ranging in size that allow for parking multiple vehicles.

The concourse also features a 1.5-mile road course, an events center, and indoor and outdoor spaces that overlook the track. It’s a place where car buffs can gather for private and public events. There’s also a retail store on-site.

“This is like a country club for car people. It’s fun. It’s a place to play and a place to rest,” said McDonald, who resides in Rochester Hills. “This was an old General Motors plant. It was like a brownfield.”

The M1 Concourse is the ideal place for McDonald to store and drive his five cars: a 2017 Mazda MX-5 Cup racing car, a 2016 Mazda Miata street car, a 1957 Porsche Speedster, a 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera, and a hybrid 2019 Porsche Panamera.

McDonald said the Miata “is wonderful for the street and the track.”

“It provides a thrill and a smile,” he said. “You get out of this car and you can’t help but smile.”

As for the 1957 Porsche Speedster, “This is a very rare car. Very few of them were made,” McDonald said. “It has a rear engine and has been fully restored.”

Inside his condominium his love for cars is evident by the number of posters and mementos dedicated to his years of working in the automobile industry. One special piece is the toy replica model of a 1956 Chevy Bel-Air.

“I took my wife on our first date in this car. It was a drive-in in Pennsylvania,” McDonald said. “I was in college. That brings back a lot of memories.”

McDonald held executive positions in automotive communication with various companies over the years. That includes Volkswagen of America, Mazda, Porsche, Audi and ThyssenKrupp. His primary responsibility was to maintain a relationship with the company he was working for and the media. He was always available, for instance, when a new car was unveiled.

“We’d launch new vehicles, maybe at a racetrack, or we’d go to places with good roads,” he said. “We’d give journalists the opportunity to drive the car on the racetrack. When the media person had a question, they could call the PR person. We always took an honest approach. I always thought of myself as the conscience of the company.

“I started working in 1967, and in 2021, I fully retired. I hung up my car keys, as they say,” the U.S. Army veteran said. “I have enjoyed every moment of my working career. I traveled around the world and met people. I have my friends in automotive media throughout the country and throughout the world I stay in touch with.”

He also stays in contact with many people at the M1 Concourse.

“We’re friendly people. We’re outgoing,” McDonald said. “We love to talk about our cars. There’s such a variety of cars and people. Everyone from a 1910 Ford Model T to a 2020 Porsche 918. There are a lot of exotic cars. We have race car drivers, collectors, Corvette guys, Mustang guys.”

He also said the M1 Concourse is not a racetrack but rather a performance track. And safety is a priority.

“All the cars have to be inspected every year — brakes, tires inspection — to make sure the cars are in good shape,” McDonald said.

“It’s a great feeling,” McDonald said of driving along the track. “You’re feeling the G-force on a turn. You’re feeling the braking and the acceleration. It’s like if you ride a horse. You’re feeling the motion of the horse.”

Car owners are allotted a certain number of hours to use the track, and those times shift between morning, afternoon and evening. Each condominium has an official address and a pit lane number.

The general public is invited to the M1 Concourse “Cars & Coffee” on the first Saturday of the month from April through October. The time is 8–11 a.m. Each show has a special vehicle theme. The Sept. 2 theme is Ford, Lincoln and Mercury. The Oct. 7 theme is Japanese Domestic Manufacturing and Asian Brands.

The M1 Concourse is located at 1 Concourse Drive in Pontiac. For more information, visit or call (248) 326-9999.