After purchasing a 720-acre ranch near San Diego, he had set about developing it into a family retreat, a key feature of which was a custom go-kart track. “I wanted really, really good go-karts,” Batchelder said. “Those ones you can drive inside, with bumpers all the way around, that can go up to 40 miles per hour.” After some searching, Batchelder settled on Sodi Karts, which are manufactured in Couëron, France, and contacted a distributor in Florida who not only arranged to ship the karts to San Diego, but also flew out to design a custom track.
While this elaborate setup was ostensibly for Batchelder’s grandchildren, “my contractor and I, we’d just get on them and race them as hard as we could,” he said. “If you want to push someone off the track, you can.”
Sixteen years later, the go-kart track, along with the rest of the family compound, is up for sale— 640 acres in total (he’s already sold 80 acres of the original property) for $13.95 million.
Along with the go-karts, buyers will purchase a fully developed cluster of houses, barns, and pavilions just 30 miles east of San Diego. “I could pick up my grandkids and be there in less than an hour,” Batchelder said.
The architecture, he said, was modeled after grand haciendas he had visited during dove-hunting trips to Argentina. The main house, which has a single story spread across 4,000 square feet, has four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, a double-height great room with a massive fireplace, an open-plan kitchen/dining room, and a greenhouse.
There are also two guest houses—one is 2,700 square feet, with three bedrooms, the other 1,130 square feet, with two bedrooms—two caretaker’s houses (one has four bedrooms, the other has three), and then a small house for whomever’s working in the stables. At one point, Batchelder said, he and his wife comfortably hosted 30 guests on the property.
Most of the time though, horses on the ranch have far outnumbered humans. The main, 6,800-square-foot barn has stalls for 19 horses, along with a tack room, bathroom, and office for the equestrian manager. A separate barn on the property is called a “mare motel,” a series of six, fully enclosed rooms for horses and their foals. Batchelder admitted that he’s “not much of a horse person,” laying most of the enthusiasm at his wife’s feet. “You never get to get away if you have horses,” he said. “You have to feed them twice a day and check on them all the time, and someone needs to be there at night, but ever since I married my wife I’ve had them.” Equestrian facilities, he said, take up close to 40 acres of the property.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature on the ranch was already there, in a much reduced form, before he bought the land: Batchelder took an unprepossessing cow pond, coated it in gunite and turned it into a 600,000-gallon, Olympic-sized pool-slash-lagoon. “We got all the gunite pool layers in San Diego county to come up here,” Batchelder said. “It was 15 guys over a 10-hour day, guniting the whole thing.” Batchelder then buried all the pool equipment in an underground vault and built a breezy pool house on top of it. A manmade waterfall feeds into the pool, and a beach made out of “safe sand,” which doesn’t have silica dust, lies on one side of the shore. “It’s basically a million-dollar pool,” Batchelder said.
Now, however, his grandchildren are all in college, and Batchelder, who recently purchased a farm on the East Coast, said it’s time to sell. “We spend most of our time out here in Pennsylvania,” he said. “Because that’s where the horses are now.”