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IndyCar boss Miles: Thermal non-points race is "really a VIP weekend"

The launch of IndyCar's non-points race at The Thermal Club could have been better executed, Penske Entertainment President and CEO Mark Miles has said.

Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosport Honda

Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosport Honda

Penske Entertainment

On 10 September the series announced the private facility, located outside of Palm Springs in California, would host a special made-for-TV event at its 17-turn, 3.067-mile circuit that pays $1m to the winner on 24 March, following an test and qualification during the build-up to the race on the 22-23 March.

Additionally, it was revealed there would be a limited number of tickets available, which in turn caused a stir among fans.

On 20 October 2,000 tickets went on sale for $2,000 each (not including fees) on Ticketmaster, with no announcement from the series or the club circuit.

The purchase of a ticket provides a three-day VIP experience to the attendee, with access to the pits and seating that features “a premium view of the track”, according to the ticket transfer portal. The tickets also provided parking, “daily lunch included, featuring many of the best food trucks in the area as well as other onsite food options including beer & wine”.

As of now, neither IndyCar or The Thermal Club have shared any information with interested parties via social media or otherwise on the potential purchase of tickets, which remain available based on the ticket portal.

There has been a wide spectrum of reactions amongst fans on social media. Some have acknowledged the unique event as a way for the series to earn prospective partners and become healthier commercially, while others have voiced their frustrations over economic segregation.

“I think we've really not done a great job of positioning and explaining this,” Miles told Autosport.

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: IndyCar Series

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Miles pointed to the two-day pre-season test back in February this year, which was the first time IndyCar visited the Southern California circuit: “Think to earlier this year, it was really a private test. We didn't even really stream it to speak of.

“The idea is largely a private test, but with an opportunity for us and our teams to connect with those members of Thermal and see what relationships develop from it. Do that, but we want to do that in a way that we can make whatever happens on track available to our fans wherever they are.

“So, maybe we shouldn't even have sold tickets or called them tickets. It really was never meant to be a typical IndyCar race. It was made-for-TV and it's meant to develop relationships in more of a private way.

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“That facility's not set up to be a ticketed event, but they thought maybe up to like a couple thousand, very high priced; I don't even think of them as tickets, it's really a VIP weekend package that we know is not typical for IndyCar races.

“And we know it's not accessible for our fans, which is part of the reason that it's not a championship points race; it's a made-for-TV more private event.

“But we wanted fans to be able to see whatever fun things happen on the track through the NBC broadcast.”

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