A portion of picturesque Bayshore Drive in downtown St. Petersburg will forever be known as Dan Wheldon Way.
Susie Wheldon and St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster unveiled the street sign Wednesday afternoon that denotes the portion of the 10th turn of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg street course as Dan Wheldon Way. Wheldon, who lived in St. Petersburg, made the winning pass in the 10th turn of the 2005 St. Pete race. He was killed in October in a crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"I want to take this opportunity to thank our St. Petersburg family for all the love and support the past several months," Susie Wheldon told the crowd, which included IndyCar drivers on hand for a media day promoting the race. "I am so proud and blessed to be able to call St. Petersburg home. I want to thank the city, the Honda Grand Prix and American Honda for recognizing Dan in such a special way. This is something that we can cherish for years to come. Sebastian and Oliver will be proud to know the impact their father had in this community and the world of motorsports."
Wheldon fell in love with downtown St. Pete during the 2005 race and relocated to the city shortly after the victory. His funeral was held at First Presbyterian Church, just a few blocks north of Wednesday's ceremony, and he is buried in St. Petersburg.
"Dan is going to be a huge presence the whole season," Dario Franchitti said. "The car is named after him. The first race is in his hometown, where he's a hero. We're going to Indianapolis, where he's the reigning champion and his face is on the ticket. We went through this when Greg [Moore] died. You don't ever want to forget these guys."
The city also will build a permanent memorial to Wheldon near the Salvador Dali museum just a few feet from Dan Wheldon Way. The memorial will include the names of the winners of the grand prix, which will kick off the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season March 23-25.