And now, an entirely different meaning for fast food. With this weekend marking the annual Long Beach Grand Prix, it seemed like a good time to find out what an open wheel racer eats. Meet driver E.J. Viso. Now in his third year in the Indy Racing League, the 25 year-old from Caracas, Venezula, has traveled the world racing in various series. He also attended Rolling Hills Prep in San Pedro for a year while racing in the states — and happens to be the IRL's resident foodie. This Sunday, he'll be driving the #8 KV Racing Technology-Honda powered Dallara in the 36th running of the LBGP. Squid Ink talked to Viso in advance of this year's race through the streets of the seaside city. We asked him about food, not about Danica Patrick.
Squid Ink: First, what's your favorite type of food or cuisine?
E.J. Viso: Well, I like very much the Thai food.
SI: What's the food and restaurant scene like in Caracas?
EV: Caracas is a pretty cosmopolitan city. I rate pretty high the quality of the food there. In Venezuela, in Caracas, you can basically find anything, every kind of food you're looking for… there's Italian, there's Japanese, there's Thai.
SI: What do you look for when you're traveling?
EV: It's pretty difficult to go wrong when you're going to eat sushi, 'cos it's a pretty simple thing. I definitely try to go places crowded the most, so I know the food is going to be fresh. When I'm racing, I try to eat as healthy and light as possible. Going to a good Italian [restaurant] and asking for something not very heavy, I think is the way to go.
SI: Do you have a favorite pre-race meal?
EV: To tell you the truth, when I'm racing I'm not even looking at things I like, I just look more for things good for me. Whatever I want to heal on my body, I talk to my nutritionist and he recommends different sorts of foods. A lot into the organic side and trying to drink plenty of fluids… fruits and vegetables. I think definitely things without hormones or preservatives are always better.
SI: What do you like to eat that you shouldn't — something that your nutritionist wouldn't approve of?
EV: I love eating sweets.
SI: Where do you like to eat when you're in Long Beach or Southern California?
EV: There are very good places around the area. I don't want to mention any specific place. In L.A., there's some of the top restaurants in the whole country. This place at the Mondrian – Asia de Cuba, that definitely is one of my top places here. Nobu's always good.
SI: In traveling around the world, where do you think you've had the best food?
EV: Well, when I traveled to Japan, I'm a big fan of sushi. I think a lot of people think that going to Japan, you're going to eat a lot of sushi, but that's not true. You eat plenty of different things. They eat a lot of fish, and that's what I like.
SI: You also were in England for a while.
EV: Well, yeah. Definitely England has the worst restaurants.
SI: I was going to ask you what you thought of British food.
EV: Yeah, I think it sucks. I mean it's just a lot of fish & chips and fried stuff and kidney pie and a lot of gravy and potatoes. That's all they eat. I mean everything tastes the same because they've just been given breakfast with a pint of Guinness.
SI: Who is the IRL's “foodie” — someone who likes to try out different cuisines?
EV: That would be me.
SI: Which driver is the least healthy eater?
EV: Well, definitely Montoya [current NASCAR and former Indy and Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya]. I think he's very happy to be here in the states, drinking a lot of coke, and hamburgers and stuff with it.
SI: Which driver is the healthiest eater?
EV: I think they all do a good job. Any of the top drivers. You know to be a top driver it takes many things, many efforts, and definitely food and nutrition.
SI: Do you do any cooking?
EV: Yeah, definitely.
SI: What do you like to cook?
EV:There's a saying, “I don't live to eat, but I eat to live.” I really don't care what I eat, something that's healthy and is fast. I do a lot of cooking, I do fish, salads, pasta, vegetables.
SI: Any favorite type of fish or vegetable?
EV: I love broccoli. Any white fish is good. I do like lobster, crab, but the triglycerides are pretty high on those, so I try to control them.
SI: So do you ever get together with other IRL drivers for lunches or dinners?
EV: Yeah, we do. I think one of the good things about IndyCar is it's like a big family, and that's something very different from [racing in] Europe.