EVENT PREVIEW: The Thermal Club



TRACK: The Thermal Club
LOCATION: Thermal, California, USA
TRACK LAYOUT: 3.067-mile, 17-turn road course

TEST SESSIONS: Friday – 9-11 a.m. PT, 2-5 p.m. PT;
Saturday – 9-11 a.m. PT, 1-3 p.m. PT (Peacock Premium)

QUALIFYING: Saturday – 5-5:45 p.m. PT (Peacock Premium)

$1 MIL CHALLENGE: Sunday – 9:30 a.m. PT (NBC)


From the season-opening race in Florida two weeks ago, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES heads to California this weekend. After a two-day Open Test, the paddock’s focus will shift to a made-for-TV racing exhibition. 

• ECR drivers Christian Rasmussen and Rinus VeeKay will have nine hours of track time across Friday and Saturday as part of the Open Test at The Thermal Club. Saturday evening, the field will divide into two groups for qualifying that will determine the starting order of Sunday’s heat races.

• Sunday will feature the $1 Million Challenge at The Thermal Club. On-track activity begins with two 10-lap heat races, which will consist of the same drivers as the previous day’s qualifying groups. The top 6 drivers from each race will advance to a 20-lap All-Star showcase, where first- through fifth-place will split over $1 million in prize money. 


CHRISTIAN RASMUSSEN, No. 20 GuyCare Chevrolet: “I’m looking forward to going to The Thermal Club! I have only heard great things about the facility and can’t wait to experience it myself. Also with one full race weekend under my belt a lot of the ‘firsts’ are out of the way which should benefit us.”


Christian Rasmussen made his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut two weeks ago in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The 23-year-old Dane is Ed Carpenter Racing’s newest driver and competes in all road and street course events in the No. 20 GuyCare Chevrolet. For the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500, Rasmussen will transition to ECR’s third entry. His ascension to North America’s premier open-wheel series comes on the heels of his recent 2023 INDY NXT title, his third championship in the past four years. 

• Rasmussen was only nine years old when he claimed his first karting championship in Denmark. He arrived in the United States in 2018 and began his road to INDYCAR the following year. He is only the second driver in history earn a championship in each open-wheel junior category that currently feeds the NTT INDYCAR SERIES – USF2000 (2020), USF Pro 2000 (2021) and INDY NXT (2023). 

• The No. 20 Chevrolet will compete in the colors of GuyCare for the entirety of the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. GuyCare clinics provide discreet and confidential care, ensuring men’s health and well-being through proven therapeutic interventions and wellness programs. Clinics will open in select NTT INDYCAR SERIES race markets throughout the 2024 season. 


RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet:“Any day we can get in the racecar is great and the $1 Million Challenge makes it even more fun! It’s an entirely different kind of weekend than anything I have been a part of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. I love The Thermal Club, the track is great and the whole scene is pretty cool. We were pretty quick off the truck at Thermal last year during testing, so hopefully that continues this year and we can fight for a part of the million dollars!”


Rinus VeeKay is now in his fifth season behind the wheel of the No. 21 Chevrolet. He has spent his entire NTT INDYCAR SERIES career with the Ed Carpenter Racing and remains the team’s longest-tenured full-time driver. In the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, VeeKay earned a Top 10 finish.

• Raised in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, Rinus van Kalmthout began karting in 2009 at the age of 8. With sights set firmly on the pinnacle of North American open wheel racing, he transitioned to the Road to Indy in 2017 and launched his U.S. career driving as Rinus VeeKay. He joined ECR for the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, following a rapid ascent through the RTI which included 16 wins and 36 podiums in 48 races. After being named 2020 Rookie of the Year, VeeKay became an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race winner in May of 2021 with a victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

• A dedicated athlete, VeeKay devotes much of his off-track time to training. He recently became a newlywed, marrying his longtime girlfriend Carmen during the offseason. The couple resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with their new dog, Rosa.


Next Race

Streets of Long Beach

April 21, 2024 • 3 p.m. ET