The Thermal Club has settled on its ticket allotment for March’s NTT IndyCar Series pre-season testing and $1 Million Challenge all-star race at the venue and will make 2000 of the $2000 “VIP Experience” tickets available for the event.
Hosting IndyCar for an exhibition race is a first for the private facility and its members. The FIA Grade 2 road course welcomed IndyCar in February for testing only, which served as the debut for a professional racing series at the California circuit located in the Coachella Valley, some 35 miles southeast of Palm Springs.
For what Thermal has in store for the March 22-24 event, the track will put on its first spectator event, erect grandstands, and allow non-members into its secured confines where, in the all-star event’s inaugural running, the amount and type of tickets on offer is being intentionally limited.
“This is the one and only idea behind it this year; we’re only doing VIP tickets,” Thermal Club general manager Nicholas Rhoades told RACER. “They’re really not general admission, per se. We’re providing food, parking, we’re putting in suites along the berm and grandstands so people have a choice of seating area. All the tickets come with paddock and pit access.
“The way we had pit lane set up [in February] will be set up again so people will be able to stand behind the white line there and see everything that’s going on without anything in their way. So, we’re trying to do more of a VIP experience for this one as we continue to ramp up to have more spectators in the future.”
Rhoades hopes to turn March’s event into a regular addition to IndyCar’s annual calendar and if that happens, expanding Thermal’s spectator and ticket offerings could become possible.
“Eventually, we’re going to end up with more grandstands and more space for people and more parking,” he said. “It’s just right now we haven’t finished all those areas — upgrading things, making things where it would be suitable to bring in 10 or 15,000 or 20,000 people. So unless we can bring in that huge crowd, 20,000 people, it’s hard to only charge $100 for a three day ticket.
“The goal is to eventually do this on a yearly basis and hopefully do something more permanent for spectators. So we would love to be able to continue to do this for years to come and actually be on the regular calendar. We’ll see how this goes, how involved it is and how everyone takes to it, and then we’ll see about holding a normal race.”