The IndyCar Series will open the 2024 season with a non-points exhibition event at The Thermal Club set to pay a portion of $1 million to the winning team. The $1 Million Challenge will be held on March 24 and air on NBC with practice and qualifying on the two days leading up to the race.
The event will coincide with the second annual preseason test at the luxurious private club located outside Palm Springs, California. The preseason test held this year led to conversations between facility owner John Rogers and IndyCar to expand the event next season.
The club, which requires a $5.2 million membership, will embed select members with a team over the race weekend. The top five finishers will split their earnings with members, including the $1 million prize.
IndyCar teams enjoyed their trip to the club, located in the legendary Coachella Valley, and the opportunity to turn laps around the 490-acre facility that contains a 17-turn, 3.067-mile layout at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains.
No points will be awarded and the race will feature a unique format that will draw parallels to NASCAR’s All Star Race.
“The teams, drivers and the entire paddock are true professionals, and we look forward to developing our relationship with them in the future,” Rogers said in a press release. “This marquee racing challenge in March promises to be special for everyone including spectators, Thermal members and race fans tuning in at home.”
The race will only be able to host a select number of fans with the event billed as made-for-TV but truthfully made for Thermal Club members.
“It’s going to be a made-for-TV event that I think should be very interesting and get people who normally wouldn’t be watching us to watch us race at a different place,” said Mark Miles, Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO.
Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.