At Grand Prix, remembering Dan Wheldon - FOX 13 News

At Grand Prix, remembering Dan Wheldon

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is this weekend, so if you love fast cars and want to see plenty of racing superstars, this is your weekend to be in downtown St. Petersburg.

The festivities kicked off Thursday night with a special tribute to a fallen race car driver. The new Dan Wheldon Victory Circle was dedicated in honor of the St. Pete driver who was killed in a crash during a race two years ago.

"I just feel like St. Pete is our home. We loved it here. I love it here still and I want to raise my children here," said Wheldon's wife, Susie.

"He never turned down a single request, no matter how big or small, and he contributed to so many memorable ways to Honda's racing legacy," said T.E. McHale with American Honda Motorsports. "So it's only fitting that we contribute in this small way to preserving his legacy here in his beloved hometown."

"It's overwhelming, and I feel so grateful to be a part of this community," said Susie Wheldon.

"With Dan's passing, we knew we had to do something special," said Tim Ramsberger, general manager of the Honda Grand Prix. "It's a demonstration of our community's love for you and the family."

There are two pillars, one bearing Dan Wheldon's face.  Susie and their sons, Sebastian and Oliver, left their handprints in the fresh concrete below.

There are bricks for the "Brickyard," and right next to that are cobblestones, celebrating Dan's British heritage.

The other pillar reads like a checkerboard flag of who's who in Indy racing, where 2012 winner Helio Castroneves placed his own square.

"As everybody saw it, I had no idea this turn, basically, was Dan Wheldon way, and I end up stopping here to celebrate the victory last year," said Helio Castroneves. "So for me, what a great way for us to celebrate Dan in our community."

After the dedication, a massive parade wound through downtown. Indy star and 2011 winner Dario Franchitti spent time with the grand marshal and Tampa native Charlie Lemon.

"I was deployed to Iraq back in 2010 and spent about 10 months over there before I was hit by a roadside bomb June 2011, where I'd lost both my legs and my best friend," said Lemon, who was there on behalf of "Wish For Our Heroes," similar to a Make-a-Wish foundation for the military.

Besides hot cars, one of the coolest things you'll also see darting around the track sounds like a swarm of bees.

Ever wonder how Indy Motor Sports gets those amazing, overhead moving shots? Well, the answer is a 6-armed helicopter, which carries a camera. They're going to be using it this year, the first time ever at the Honda Grand Prix in St. Pete.

"It can go about 50 miles per hour. It's not going to keep up with an Indy car or anything, but it gets you some good wide angles of the track," said Lorean Rozier with Elevated Horizons out of Orlando.

It's the track Dan Wheldon's name will be eternally associated with.

"It's just really, really special  and I'm just so grateful to the City of St. Pete and everybody involved that had a part in making it happen," said Susie Wheldon.

Also, all of the vendors who'll be out there selling food and drinks all weekend will donate part of their earnings to local charities they're representing.

So, when you spend your money at the races, just know that it's being put back into our community.

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