VeeKays top qualifying performance undone by crashing rival

VeeKays top qualifying performance undone by crashing rival


A whopping $500,000 was up for grabs for to the winner of the non-championship race at The Thermal Club in California, but the reward did not go to Rinus ‘VeeKay’ van Kalmthout, as the 23-year-old Dutchman was knocked out of contention early on.



After a challenging 2023, VeeKay and his Ed Carpenter Racing team had made a flying start in the 2024 NTT IndyCar Series, starting the new season with a strong seventh on the grid for the opening race on the streets of St Petersburg and holding his own in the top ten amidst the might of the Penskes, Andrettis, Ganassis and McLarens to immediately score a strong haul of points.


Although no points were awarded at the second IndyCar event of the year – the races at The Thermal Club were purely for fun and pennies – the weekend in California offered VeeKay and ECR another chance to take make progress with the Dallara-Chevrolet. Single IndyCar race winner VeeKay took the bull by the horns by qualifying his #21 car in a respectable third place for the first of three races. The talented twenty-year-old was just four hundredths of a second behind polesitter Felix Rosenqvist.


The challenge in California was simple: the 27 IndyCar drivers were split into two groups (one of 14, the other of 13), with each group competing independently in a sprint race. The top six finishers from both races competed in a longer race with a whopping $1,756,000 prize pool at stake. The winner of the longer race took home the top prize of $500,000.


VeeKay was knocked out of the fight for half a million after just a few seconds. On braking into the first corner, rival Romain Grosjean, who had been tapped by Scott Dixon, slammed into VeeKay’s green and black car like an errant bullet. The Dutchman was forced to retire from the race with extensive damage. For his participation in the $1 Million Challenge at The Thermal Club, VeeKay has been compensated at least a little: he will be credited with $23,000.


“I was expecting something different this Sunday, but it is what it is,” said VeeKay from The Thermal Club. “The positive thing about this non-championship round is that we showed fantastic qualifying pace, with a great third place on the grid for my heat. After being so good at St Pete, it gives us a lot of hope for the rest of the IndyCar season”



“It was a racing accident – these things can happen when you are going into the first corner with several drivers fighting for the same piece of tarmac. Personally, I had a good start. I was able to hold third place easily and had second place in my sights. I did not see Grosjean’s car coming. Suddenly I felt a bang and I was backwards. Incidentally, it was clear from the footage that there was nothing much that Grosjean could do about it.”


“As it wasn’t a points race, we didn’t suffer in the championship standings and I’m still in the top ten. The next race is at Long Beach where we’ve struggled in the recent past, but given the speed we showed in St Petersburg and at The Thermal Club, a good result could be on the cards. In any case, we are going full steam ahead once again,” VeeKay concluded.


The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is scheduled for Sunday 21 April and will start around 21:30hrs Dutch time.