IndyCar releases details, format for $1 Million Challenge at The Thermal Club

IndyCar has released details for The $1 Million Challenge at The Thermal Club, the March 22-24 exhibition at the track near Palm Springs, California.

The weekend will include a two-day open test, group qualifying sessions, two heat races and a 12-car "all-star" main event for $1.756 million, the largest purse for an IndyCar race outside of the Indy 500. The winner will receive $500,000 for the first nonpoints race in IndyCar since 2008 at Surfers Paradise, Australia.

“This will be an incredible new event for the NTT IndyCar Series,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The unique format and record-setting purse will bring extra energy and drama to a competition set against a scenic and compelling backdrop. We can’t wait for viewers across the country to tune-in on NBC and look forward to an amazing weekend with Tim Rogers and his team at The Thermal Club.”

MORE INFORMATION: Click here for full details, format, rules

Members of The Thermal Club, a 490-acre property that is home to motorsports enthusiasts, celebrities and corporate executives, will be paired with the 27 full-time IndyCar teams at a draw party March 21. Teams will embed the club's members for team meetings, racecraft lessons and use of premium race gear.

Here are more details of the event:


Total: $1.756 million (largest in IndyCar history outside the Indy 500)

First: $500,000; Second: $350,000; Third: $250,000; Fourth: $100,000; Fifth: $50,000; Sixth through 27th: $23,000 each


The March 23 session will begin at 8 p.m. ET with two groups each receiving 12 minutes on the 17-turn, 3.067-mile layout to determine the starting lineup of Sunday's heats. Push to pass will be available in qualifying for the first time in IndyCar with each driver getting 40 seconds.


Two heat races will begin March 24 at 12:30 p.m. ET to determine the 12-car field for The Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge. It is the first time since 2013 at Iowa Speedway that IndyCar has used heat races, which will last 10 laps or 20 minutes. Full-course yellow flags won't count toward the lap total. A lap is complete when the leader crosses the line, and the cars' positions will be determined by the last timeline before a full-course caution.

Pit stops will be allowed only for emergency service (those otherwise pitting for other adjustments will be disqualified), and drivers will receive 40 seconds of push to pass.


The top six finishers in each heat will advance to the main event. The final will be divided into two 10-lap segments with a 10-minute halftime break after Lap 10. Drivers will have 40 seconds of push to pass. The yellow-flag rules carry over from the heats but with no overall time limit on the event.

During the break, cars can be serviced for fuel, adjustments to the front and rear wing angles and wickers, adjustments to tire pressure and driver assistance.

During the second segment, the positions of cars under a full-course yellow flag will be determined by their actual spot on the track (instead of the previous timeline).


Peacock will provide coverage of the open test at The Thermal Club from noon-2 p.m. ET on March 21 and 5-8 p.m. ET on March 22. Peacock also will have coverage of The Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge qualifying beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

Coverage of The Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge will begin at 12:30 p.m. ET on March 24 on NBC and Peacock.