IndyCar heading to The Thermal Club for 2023 Spring Training

IndyCar heading to The Thermal Club for 2023 Spring Training

IndyCar

IndyCar heading to The Thermal Club for 2023 Spring Training

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The NTT IndyCar Series will pay its first visit to The Thermal Club road course for next year’s pre-season Spring Training test.

Located 15 minutes south of where the popular Coachella music festival is held in south central California, the February 2-3 event in the town of Thermal will serve as the venue’s first collaboration with a major racing series.

The vast property, which serves as a country club-style track where members build homes and garages to house their high-performance cars and racing machines, has grown in stature as a testing facility used by numerous IMSA and SRO teams.

Set to receive FIA Grade 2 safety certification at the start of 2023, it’s believed a successful Spring Training event for IndyCar at The Thermal Club, which received design input from series owner Roger Penske, could lead to a future race date being added to the calendar.

“We’ll use the layout we call ‘Two Palms,’” track president John Rogers told RACER. “It’s our South Palm course and our North Palm course put together, which is 2.9 miles and 17 turns and includes our infield, which should be exciting with a great triple-right turn section and a chicane in there. We built the track with very fast cars in mind. In fact, we made some changes before we laid the track down, and we did that with Roger’s help on the grade of pavement to use and a lot of other things very early on because obviously he’s got a huge depth of knowledge.”

Rogers floated the idea of hosting IndyCar during a meeting in April at Long Beach with series president Jay Frye, where a range of options were presented.

“We tossed around some bigger and better ideas, and then said, ‘Okay, well, let’s try this,’” he said of the decision to open the relationship with Spring Training. “Just start with making sure it’s all good before we go for the home run in the ninth inning. So without revealing the bigger plans in the future, this is a test run to make sure the teams like it and the drivers like it. Do our members feel that this is a positive thing for them? Is it a good thing for The Thermal Club?

“So, we’ll have the members meet the meet the teams and drivers, have parties, lunches, dinners, and get to know each other. Some of our members are already involved in IndyCar and F1. And I know a lot of the drivers and team owners are golfers, and they’ll probably try to sneak away and play some golf.”

At IndyCar’s urging, more barriers and runoff areas are being added to receive the Grade 2 safety rating by the FIA which the series requires for its drivers.

“Originally, the thinking was we’re private facility, we really don’t need FIA certification because we’re just going to do our own internal races,” Rogers said. “But Jay Frye said we’d need to get Grade 2 certification if we’re going to do something big, and so we’re on track to get FIA certification here at the beginning of the year.”

Rogers hopes the region’s growing popularity, with Palm Springs, the Joshua Tree National Park, the Salton Sea, and other local attractions, will connect with IndyCar’s wide-ranging fan base.

“While it’s snowing everywhere else, the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, Thermal are going to be 72 degrees and sunny,” he said. “And we have a lot of other sporting activities with AMEX and PGA golf, tennis at Indian Wells, and music with Coachella and Stagecoach that attract a lot of people to the area. There’s even wave parks coming out here so you can surf, and that’s not a small thing. It’s no longer the 60- and 70-year-old retirees; there’s certainly a younger generation that’s coming here and spending a lot of their time. Lots and lots of food and beverage venues, lots of clubs. And a great race track in the middle of it.”

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