It's not only the impressive four-wheeled possessions belonging to members of the Ninth Degree Supercar Club that move fast: in three years, the Dubai-based group has gone from an impromptu gathering of friends to a petrolhead movement with about 240 paid-up UAE members.
"It started in April 2015 with myself and one of my friends who wanted to take photographs with my car and his Lamborghini – back then, I had a Nissan GT-R," Ninth Degree founder Danny Keenan says. "So we put out a couple of messages to friends, went to take some pictures, then went to Bab Al Shams for lunch. We swapped numbers and set up a little WhatsApp group, then invited them on the next event two weeks later. We had 35 cars show up. Two weeks later, we did it again and had 65 cars show up.
“Since then, we introduced a members’ platform for people to join the club, mainly to keep the [quality of the] demographic high and keep the ‘kids of Instagram’ away. Our events are all based around activities. There’s one track day every month; mountain drives that will either go to Jebel Hafeet, Jebel Jais or Kalba; then on the ninth of every month, we get all the members together with wives, friends, guests, and host social nights.”
In the rarefied world of supercars, where boundaries are there to be broken, Ninth Degree represents an evolution of a phrase that evokes the idea of taking something to its limit.
“The name actually started because myself and one of my friends used to run a fine-dining club called Nth Degree – nth degree is a saying like ‘best of the best’,” Keenan says. “Because it had ‘nth’ on the logo, everyone was calling it Ninth Degree, so we said: ‘Let’s just simplify it’.”
Accordingly, your five-year-old Ford Focus isn’t about to gain you entry into this high-rolling club, with strict criteria, and minor concessions only given to founder members.
“The lowest that we’ll take is like a 911 Turbo 2014 model,” Keenan says. “At the moment, we have a couple of Corvettes and a couple of GT-Rs, but they’re for founder members. Aside from that, it’s all Lamborghinis,
McLarens – only supercars.
“What’s the definition of a supercar? Nobody in the world can tell you what a supercar is. Ferrari will tell you they’re the only ones that make supercars. McLaren will tell you they’re the only ones that make supercars. It used to be something that will go from 0-to-100kph in less than four seconds, but now you can buy an SUV that will do that. A supercar, to us, is something unique, something special. Supercars for me are the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens. Normally two-seaters, but we do allow in the occasional hot rod or something really cool.”
Keenan's personal garage has undergone an upgrade since the club was founded, with his GT-R replaced by a 2017 McLaren 570S, although he has aspirations to add a "more track-focused car" such as a Porsche 911 GT2 RS or GT3 RS.
Ninth Degree collaborate with the official UAE outlets of the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren, as well as Dubai supercar dealership Deals on Wheels, which is heavily involved with the club. The company now employs six people at its office on Sheikh Zayed Road, and the team is preparing for the next Ninth Degree event: October 18 to 21 will be the second instalment of the bi-annual Catch the Camel tours, which traverse the seven emirates, stopping off for driving and luxury-lifestyle activities en route, spending each night at a five-star hotel. It includes zip-lining in Ras Al Khaimah, a sunset skydive over The Palm, jet-skiing in Fujairah and, perhaps most importantly, a track day at Dubai Autodrome.
“We will have a load of race cars there,” Keenan says. “We’ll have a professional driver – he’ll go out and do a lap, then we have to catch that supercar time. We’re going to give away a supercar trip to Italy – we’re going to take one of the winners across to Italy, give them a supercar and head out on a tour of Europe. We have about 50 participants on each [Catch the Camel] event – some of them fly in from America, UK and Europe.”
The next European tour event for Ninth Degree is in May, following a 2,000-kilometre route from Dusseldorf to Rome, featuring a track day at the Nurburgring circuit, a mountain drive through the spectacular Stelvio Pass and a stop-off at Lake Como.
Back in the UAE, two other arms to the company – Ninth Degree Supercar Tours and Ninth Degree Supercar Concierge – allow access to top-end motors for those without the means to own such pricey metal, but the Supercar Club is exclusively for enthusiasts.
“We’re the only official members’ supercars club in the UAE with trade licences that run frequent events,” Keenan says. “We want to drive the cars, take them on track, run them round for three hours; take them to a mountain and drift around a little bit. We’re more of an enthusiasts’ club than other clubs.”