Weirdest race ever.
A quick glance down at the speedometer reveals that I'm doing about 150 miles per hour down the back straight of Homestead-Miami Speedway. Outside of something like, say, an actual race car, that's about as fast as you're going to get on this road course. But I'm not competing against other cars – I'm trying to get a Nissan GT-R Nismo around as quickly as possible while one of Miami's premier sushi chefs frantically makes California rolls on the start-finish line. No, really.
The idea started with an unexpected call from Nissan: "We want you to race against record-holding sushi chef Hiroyuki 'Hiro' Terada." You might know the name Hiro Terada for his infamous iguana sushi roll in honor of the GT-R. Or maybe you know him for managing 88 blindfolded carrot slices live on Gordon Ramsey's show, The F Word, which is still a Guinness World Record.
Nissan has been working with Chef Terada for some time now, giving him and his 1.7 million YouTube subscribers access to some of the brand's latest and greatest vehicles. And if you've seen any of the collaborative projects the two entities have come up with in the past, you know that they're pretty much open to anything. So, a race against Motor1.com in a GT-R Nismo is just one of the many unusual, creative video concepts that Nissan and Hiro have come up with. And I jumped at the opportunity.
Round One: Fight
Our starting point was an eerily quiet Homestead-Miami Speedway just before 9:00 AM. We had the track all to ourselves – myself, a few videographers, and a photographer with an extremely good Datsun 240Z. While I was definitely eager to unleash the 600-horsepower GT-R out on the track, first we had to go over exactly what kind of "races" were on the docket.
The first one we decided on was pretty simple: How many California Rolls could chef Hiro make in my one lap of the track? So I had to set a baseline. At this point, I should probably note the GT-R Nismo is an absolute monster on the track. With 600 horsepower, all-wheel drive, and some of the best aerodynamics of any supercar, the GT-R can tear up any course. And this example in particular costs more than $212,000 with all the appropriate bits and pieces.
I set up at the start-finish line, toggle all the drive mode switches to 'R' to engage launch control, and set off. Homestead is a track I've driven before, so I know how tricky the initial twisty bits just past the start-finish line can be. But the absurd grip from the GT-R Nismo gives me more confidence through these corners than any other car I've driven here, and the amount of grunt from the twin-turbocharged V6 provides plenty of power through the middle and back straights.
Keep in mind that while I'm sprinting around the track, laser-focused on every corner, Chef Hiro is chopping away at ingredients at the start-finish line, trying to make as many California rolls as possible before I return. That's ever-present in the back of my mind as I toss the GT-R into the turns. A 90-degree sweeper leads to the final back straight, and as I round that last curve, foot planted firmly to the floor, I cross the start-finish line. The Nissan GT-R Nismo is fast, but so is Chef Hiro; he managed four full California Rolls in my not-so-quick 1:49 lap. That's a lot of sushi – point to Hiro.
Our second challenge involves Chef Hiro stuffing his face with the same California Rolls that he just made. So again, I line up on the start-finish line, engage launch control, and take off. With a bit more confidence the second go-around, I'm definitely quicker, recording a lap time of 1:42. And in that timeframe, Chef Hiro manages to scarf down just one full California roll – it’s not as easy as it sounds, folks. We'll chalk that up as a win for GT-R.
Gallery: Nissan GT-R Nismo Vs Master Sushi Chef: Feature
Round Two: Fight
Our second set of challenges includes a bit more knife work from Chef Hiro, so in theory, I should have had a better shot of beating him around the track. Hiro has to turn an entire half of a snapper into nigiri and sashimi. That should take him more than 1:45, right? You'd be surprised.
As I again round the final corner and blast past the start-finish line, Chef Hiro somehow manages to complete five pieces of nigiri and a few pieces of sashimi, essentially cleaning one entire half of the fish in time it takes me to lap Homestead once. That's another win for Hiro.
We end the day with a challenge that, frankly, is pretty much catered to Hiro. Remember: He’s a world-record holder in slicing carrots blindfolded, managing an impressive 88 slices in just 30 seconds. So how many slices can Chef Hiro get done in the time it takes me to do one lap? We set a goal of 275 slices for Hiro. Even with a very fast lap from me, that’s cutting it close – pun intended.
I hit the front straight of Homestead, gas pedal planted firmly into the floor, and the GT-R Nismo blasts past the start-finish line where a blindfolded Hiro is still chopping. A quick count by the "judge" reveals Hiro managed an impressive 276 carrot slices – one more than we thought possible before setting off. Even at my fastest, it appears I’ve been beaten by the master sushi chef.
After nearly a full day driving, it’s obvious that the Nissan GT-R Nismo has still got it. It’s very quick, scalpel-sharp (much like the knife Hiro used to beat me), and with all pieces and performance of something you'd expect of something in this segment – if you can swing it – the GT-R Nismo for a fantastic track companion at this price. But Chef Hiro is a Guinness World Record holder and a master sushi chef for a reason, so not even the absurdly quick GT-R Nismo was a match for Hiro's knife skills on this day.
Photo Credit: Juha Lievonen