By the time Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay made it to the rooftop bar in Midtown Manhattan where friends, family and Verizon IndyCar Series staff gathered May 27 to celebrate his win, he was arguably already the toast of New York.
After prevailing in a six-lap duel to the checkered flag with Helio Castroneves, Hunter-Reay captured hearts as he celebrated with wife Beccy and 1-year-old son Ryden. When they arrived in New York for a victory media tour, journalists couldn’t get enough of Hunter-Reay and his toddler look-alike, dressed in a pint-sized version of his dad’s firesuit. Affable Ryden accompanied his parents from an early morning appearance on “Today” to a stop to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and finally to a late-in-the-day photo opp atop the Empire State Building as well as multiple interviews in between.
But even after all of that, Ryden was still up for more socializing.
The Hunter-Reays arrived at a cocktail party, organized in their honor at Top of the Strand (33 W. 37th St.) about 6 p.m., and it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see the child become tired and a bit cranky. Even his parents were worn out. But the toddler busied himself unintentionally charming everyone in that room, too. Playing with a yellow balloon, Ryden bounced around the soiree as cocktails, champagne and appetizers were served to the adults socializing above his head.
The scene unfolded in the casual, open-air bar with spectacular views of the Empire State Building. The event’s décor included a photo of Hunter-Reay minutes after he passed the checkered flag at Indianapolis 500, pouring the ceremonial winner’s milk on his head. Gift bags were stuffed with red and yellow tissue (the colors of Hunter-Reay’s sponsor, DHL), Indianapolis Motor Speedway hats and limited edition Indy 500-themed bottles of Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka.
The highlight of the party came, though, as the sun was setting over New York and the intimate group raised champagne glasses to the Hunter-Reays. They toasted Ryan’s win, the Verizon IndyCar Series and the end to a good day in New York.
Meanwhile, Ryden kept chasing his yellow balloon.