LOS ANGELES - Befitting his status as one of the top athletes in the United States, Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud’s night on the town in advance of tonight’s ESPY Awards started in front of the camera of noted sports photographer Walter Iooss Jr. at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Iooss, an award-winning photographer whose work has appeared in Sports Illustrated for more than five decades, was snapping portraits at a pre-ESPYS party hosted by the online sports publication The Players’ Tribune at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Among the athletes photographed by Iooss for Sports Illustrated covers are Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali.
New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter, who founded The Players’ Tribune, also attended the party, as did Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps, Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman and Golden State Warriors NBA star Kevin Durant.
“It was cool to see all of the athletes – we just saw (Indianapolis Colts legend and ESPY host) Peyton Manning walking through the nightclub,” Pagenaud said. “It’s just incredible to be surrounded by such athletes, so I’m just amazed to be part of it, quite frankly.”
Pagenaud, who is nominated in the Best Driver category along with Ron Capps (NHRA), Lewis Hamilton (Formula One), Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR) and Martin Truex Jr. (NASCAR) spent the night party hopping. You can still cast your vote for Pagenaud at http://www.espn.com/espys/story/_/page/voting22/best-driver.
He also attended ESPN The Magazine’s pre-ESPYS party at Avalon Hollywood, where he walked the red carpet and chatted with New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is nominated for two of the Super Bowl champion team’s six ESPY Awards.
The pair had a lot to talk about because Edelman attended the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (a race Pagenaud won in 2016) in April and rode in the Honda Fastest Seat in Sports, the two-seat Indy car driven by Mario Andretti, at the beginning of the INDYCAR event.
“He loves INDYCAR and it was a pleasure to talk to him,” Pagenaud said. “I’m excited. I told him to come to another race and we would welcome him at Team Penske, and hopefully, I can do the same thing with football and get close to him and see a game.”
Pagenaud attended the parties Tuesday with Alexandre Mille of the luxury watch company Richard Mille, one of Pagenaud’s personal sponsors. He’ll wear one of Richard Mille's high-end watches at the ESPYS (8 p.m. ET today on ABC) and a navy blue tuxedo by Samuelsohn, another sponsor.