Note: The Penske Entertainment editorial staff is looking back at the 10 biggest moments of 2023 in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in this year-end series, with one installment appearing on the site per day in countdown fashion from Dec. 22-31.
Entering the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, few people knew what the Thermal Club was all about.
During last February’s successful two-day Open Test, fans found out Thermal is a private, world-class facility, located just outside of Palm Springs, California, with an expansive 490-acre property known as the ultimate destination for driving-minded motorsports enthusiasts. Located at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains, The Thermal Club has everything from luxury homes to a motorsports village and gourmet restaurants.
That Open Test was a bit of a “getting to know you” between the INDYCAR paddock and The Thermal Club. It went so well that Thermal will host the $1 Million Challenge on Sunday, March 24 as a special, made-for-TV exhibition race live on NBC. The race winner will earn $1 million.
An NTT INDYCAR SERIES Open Test and qualifications will take place Friday and Saturday March 22-23 at Thermal.
“The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will add an incredible new event to our schedule with next year’s spectacular racing showcase at The Thermal Club,” said Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles. “This world-class venue just down the road from the world’s premier entertainment market is the perfect place to bring our hyper-competitive racing and growing star power.”
This expansive facility’s rise from the shadows to the forefront is a remarkable one that was kickstarted by the INDYCAR SERIES hosting an Open Test last February.
“After having a smooth 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES test, we are proud to welcome INDYCAR back to The Thermal Club during the 2024 season,” said John Rogers, The Thermal Club owner. “The teams, drivers and the entire INDYCAR SERIES paddock are true professionals, and we look forward to developing our relationship with them in the future. This marquee racing showcase in March promises to be special for everyone, including spectators, Thermal members and race fans tuning in at home.”
INDYCAR President Jay Frye noted the experience the teams enjoyed at The Thermal Club was second to none, providing an ideal launching pad for the 2023 season.
“The facility is spectacular, and we cannot wait to return and showcase INDYCAR in a whole new way,” Frye said.
While championship points will not be on the line in March, the event will feature a multimillion-dollar purse. A draw party to begin the event will embed members of The Thermal Club with each race team and driver. The weekend format will include a qualifying session and two heat races, with the top six from each heat advancing to an All-Star showcase. The top five finishing teams will split their earnings with The Thermal Club members, including a $1 million prize awarded to the winner.