By Dalia Colón
You heard it here first: Dan Wheldon is the Diddy of St. Petersburg.
On Wednesday, the Panther Racing driver and St. Petersburg resident had planned to arrive at the Grand Prix track in style, descending in a Black Hawk helicopter courtesy of his sponsor, the National Guard. And after racing this weekend, Wheldon will host his second annual Grand Prix after party Sunday at Push Ultra Lounge. IndyCar's Scott Dixon, Marco Andretti and Justin Wilson dropped by last year's shindig. At this year's bash, Wheldon says to expect more celebs and plenty of mojitos.
But the Emberton, England, native has slowed down somewhat since marrying his personal assistant, Susie Behm, last year and welcoming their first child, Sebastian Daniel, in February. Wheldon, 30, called to chat about partying at Push and his other favorite local hangouts.
So you're having a party at Push.
We did one last year, and it turned out to be incredibly successful. . . . It's always not talked about quite so much before the weekend starts, but as the weekend progresses and gets closer, then everybody starts talking about it. It just gets better and better as the night progresses.
You're like the Diddy of St. Pete.
I have been known as the P. Diddy of St. Pete. You're right. Only I'm bigger than P. Diddy. (laughs)
What's your drink of choice?
I really don't consume much alcohol, certainly now that I'm a father and a husband. But mojitos do definitely sound very good after probably a long, hot day. I would say I'll drink a few nice energy drinks and then probably consume some mojitos.
Why was it important for you to host a party that's open to the public?
I've always been very thankful for the fans that I have, and I think this is the least we can do. There's certainly going to be a VIP area, but it's certainly an open event, which I think is going to attract a lot of attention.
Besides Push, what are some of your favorite hangouts in St. Pete?
We do spend a lot of time in Bella Brava, and my wife and I certainly enjoy the Vinoy hotel.
To eat or to stay?
For everything. Actually, my wife and I got married there. So we like to stay there. Obviously we tend to stay at home, but we've stayed there on occasion.
Where did you and Susie have your first date?
Actually, we had our first date in the Vinoy. We had brunch on Sunday.
Are there places that you didn't used to go that you've now discovered since having the baby?
Babies "R" Us — my wife just shouted Babies "R" Us.