Indy 500 Champ's Whirlwind NYC Tour

Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrated in Big Apple style with stops on TV and atop swanky hotels.

What a difference a late-breaking pass makes.

Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay swallowed up Helio Castroneves‘s slim lead in that greatest of spectacles and seized his maiden victory in the big race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (See his Winner’s Circle and Victory Banquet photos here.) The first American to win the event since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006, the 33-year-old Hunter-Reay, a staunch cancer foe, sounded out his pride in capturing another 500 victory at home, as it were, and at such a time.

“Memorial Day weekend—our servicemen and women were out there, and we wouldn’t be able to do this great race if it weren’t for them,” he said on the Today show, the New York skyline at his back. “I’m one of the few Americans in the sport. It’s a very international sport, and I’m definitely proud to raise the stars and stripes.”

Indeed, RHR was but one of 11 American drivers among 33 competitors in this Indy 500. Now he’s on a national Victory Tour, and you can track his exploits by following the #500VT hashtag on Twitter. Besides appearing on Today Tuesday, Hunter-Reay rang the New York Stock Exchange’s opening bell:

He then relished a celebration in his honor organized by IndyCar itself. With stunning Empire State Building views behind them, guests sipped various elixirs at The Strand Hotel’s rooftop bar in Manhattan (pictured, above). That event’s space brimmed with excited chatter and floral arrangements including white orchids—the flowers adorning the Indy 500 winner’s wreath (crafted by an Indiana woman).

Also on display at the scene: a photo of Hunter-Reay pouring milk over his head after the biggest victory of his racing career. About that milk, though: His going-on-2-years-old son, Ryden, wouldn’t drink it. Not when he won, not now.

Some things that are good for you are learned, maybe. Milk, for sure—and winning.