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The book on Dan Wheldon? Success and serenity

ST. PETERSBURG — For IndyCar series driver Dan Wheldon, a career can pass by seemingly in a blur.

But the St. Petersburg resident is thrilled that some of his defining moments, both on and off the track, have been captured in photographs and pulled together in a just released coffee table book, Lionheart.

The release date coincides nicely with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg racing weekend; Wheldon, 31, a native of Emberton, England, has lived here for years.

"It gives you a bit more insight into my life through pictures," he said, praising the work of his good friend and professional photographer, Michael Voorhees. "Everything in it has a special meaning to me."

Like one from the 2005 race when he won here, standing on the podium with his Andretti Green teammates who finished second, third and fourth — something that hadn't occurred in IndyCar before and hasn't since.

"I remember that evening so well, just because that was unheard of at the time. It really was," he said Thursday. "That's a special picture."

Like the one of him drinking milk to celebrate his win at the Indianapolis 500 in 2005, his sport's signature event, and a picture that he said "defines my career."

Like the one outside his St. Petersburg home with his race cars or his "toys," as he calls them.

"My family has always helped me, but I would never have been able to afford stuff like this without racing," he said. "I'd like to feel that I've worked hard to get to where I am today, so I'm very proud of that."

Like the shots from his wedding to wife Susie two years ago at the historic Renaissance Vinoy.

"No one's seen pictures of that because we didn't allow media there," he said. "That's very special. And I've got to say my wife is by far the best looking bride I've ever seen. I'm telling the truth. Wait 'til you see the pictures."

Wheldon, a perfectionist, and Voorhees culled through "tons" of photos before choosing which ones would make the cut, a difficult but personally rewarding process.

"My family isn't able to get out to a lot of the different races and they don't see me that much, so it's something nice, my dad can show his people back home," he said. "I'd like to think everybody will enjoy it as much as I have."

Fans can buy the book at the IndyCar series merchandise tent on Bayshore Drive beginning today. Wheldon will make a 30-minute appearance at the tent at noon Saturday to sign limited-edition copies for $59.99. He also will sign copies of the book before a post-race party on Sunday that he and former Tampa Bay Bucs standout Ryan Nece will host at Push Ultra Lounge in St. Petersburg. (For information about the party, a charity event, visit www.pushlounge.com.)

The book on Dan Wheldon? Success and serenity 03/25/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 25, 2010 10:03pm]
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