A look back at the $1 million IndyCar challenge at The Thermal Club

“Thermal has turned its back on IndyCar and created a great event,” said McLaughlin. “The opportunity for all the teams to come here and make money is an absolute bonus, but only to put on a show and have the chance to test the cars. You have to give Thermal props for that.”

The exhibition race – technically the second race of the 2024 NTT IndyCar season – did not award any championship points (although Palou certainly wished it did). The event previously bridged a gap in the IndyCar schedule between the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in early March and the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, which takes place on April 21.

Beyond the asphalt, the drivers took advantage of their time in Greater Palm Springs. The intermittent winds were no match for the destination’s desirable blue skies and balmy climate, which prevailed on race day and forced off-site recreation throughout the weekend. McLaughlin snuck away to a golf course. Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing enjoyed a game of pickleball at The Thermal Club.

In the paddock, a small group of Thermal Club members were paired with drivers and embedded with teams throughout the weekend to participate in team meetings and experience the ins and outs of IndyCar.