A year ago, it would have been impossible for racecar driver Shannon McIntosh to imagine how the next year would play out.
McIntosh had recently moved to St. Petersburg in December 2010 and was going to compete in the USF2000 National Championship Series for the first time in 2011.
Very quickly, she was struck by how this big city of St. Pete felt like a small neighborhood. People are close here, she said.
One of those people McIntosh became close with was fellow racecar driver, and St. Pete resident, Dan Wheldon.
Then in October 2011, during the final Indy Racing Series event of the year, tragedy struck.
Wheldon’s car spun out of control and he died from injuries sustained from a 15-car pileup during a race in Las Vegas.
For McIntosh, Wheldon’s loss hit close to home — literally.
“Being a resident here, for a little over a year, I’ve been able to see what Dan meant to the city and how much he loved the city,” McIntosh said in an interview with Patch.
Carrying on the love Wheldon had for his city, McIntosh is hosting the Honda Grand Prix after party on Sunday, which used to be hosted by Wheldon.
At Push Ultra Lounge this year, a $10 donation at the door all goes toward the Dan Wheldon Family Trust.
“Bittersweet is probably the perfect word to describe it,” McIntosh said. “ and his sister is waving the green flag at the IndyCar race. He’s been talked about a lot, this having this been his home track as well. I’m excited I could be apart of the party and help honor Dan.”
This weekend, McIntosh will be driving the No. 18 car during the IndyCar's USF2000 series, which has races Saturday and Sunday during this weekend’s Grand Prix.
“It’ll have white and blue with a little pink,” McIntosh said of her open-wheel car that is sponsored by TrueCar.com and St. Pete based Fusion 1560 City Apartment Homes.
McIntosh said after more than a year St. Pete definitely feels like home, which makes this weekend’s race all the more special.
“Last year when I was here, it wasn’t quite like home yet,” McIntosh said. “It’s been really cool and I have a lot of friends coming out and just being able to wake up in my own bed. I could walk to the track if I wanted.
“I’m excited about having a community here to support me,” McIntosh said.
For more information on this weekend's events, road closures and parking information, you can check out our .
If you are planning to attend McIntosh’s closing party, it runs from 9 p.m. – 3 a.m. at Push Ultra Lounge. Push is located at 138 3rd St. in downtown St. Pete. It is $10 to get in and Indy Card holders get in free.
“It’ll be a great way to honor Dan and a good way to close the weekend,” she said.