- By Brant James USA Today
DOVER, Del. – Gordon Ramsay brought his personal sense of what NASCAR cuisine should be, but checked his combustible television persona at pit road Sunday as grand marshal of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway.
Ramsay filmed segments for his Fox The F Word cooking show in the driver coach lot in conjunction with his duties as grand marshal. Among the segments the celebrity chef filmed were changing tires, cavorting with Danica Patrick (a former winner on the Chopped cooking competition show), and fashioning crab omelettes, hash and fruit smoothies for her crew with Eric Maycroft, a tire changer for Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick.
Ramsay’s call for drivers to start their engines was typical fare, though.
“These guys are focused, so (the) last thing they needed is anyone (expletive) around,” Ramsay said. “That’s such an important stage, so I’m going to be straight, firm, and get the message across.”
Ramsay, a self-described “petrolhead” who races Ferraris, Audis and Porsches on track days, got the message across on track food, also. Would he eat any of it? “(Expletive) all, no,” he said.
“This morning, coming in one of those tailgates, the ribs … so, you can smell that from about a mile away,” he laughed. “Lingering coming in you think, ‘Wow, ribs.’ Overcooked stewed hot dogs you can smell 10 miles away. Gray burgers you can smell 20 miles away.”
Maycroft, who played a pit crew member and served as a stunt double for Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby, said he was initially intimidated by the prospect of sharing a burner with the intense chef. Ramsay’s humbling experience attempting to change lug nuts alleviated that, Maycroft said.
“We got to bring him into our wheelhouse first, so that made it a lot easier for me and he’s actually more personable than I ever thought he would be coming off of the TV show,” he said.
Maycroft described Ramsay’s aptitude with an air gun as “in one word: terrible.”
“What we do is a very tough skill, taking five lug nuts off the car in one second,” Maycroft said. “And so we hit some lug nuts and it took him about five seconds, so I told him if that was compared to being a chef, he’d be working at McDonald’s.”
Ramsay humbly agreed, describing his performance as a “disaster” but drew comparisons from racing to culinary arts.
“The energy of the teams and the respect they’ve got for one another, it synchronizes like a kitchen,” Ramsay said, “so the pressure is insane, but that’s healthy and that’s what makes them raw.”
The NASCAR edition will air at 9 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
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