My gross desire to do a shoey—the celebration where you drink out of a shoe—has been thwarted because I just can’t win. While I can’t speak from experience, I know someone who can: Red Bull Formula One driver Max Verstappen, who has graciously gone along with his Australian teammate Daniel Ricciardo’s grand post-race shoe-chugs.
[Full disclosure: Red Bull Racing’s oil and gas partner Mobil 1 paid for food, lodging and travel to Italy, set up interviews with members of the Red Bull Racing team, and gave me a pass to the Italian Grand Prix Thursday media day—all as part of the launch of their “Energy to Perform” campaign. Of course I asked about the grossest thing in modern F1.]
“I’ve done [shoeys] a few times,” Verstappen confirmed, cringing a bit. “On track, off track, with friends, yeah.”
What does it taste like? “Sweaty, sweaty sock,” he replied, very matter-of-factly.
“I did it in Malaysia from [Ricciardo’s] shoe, and we were very dehydrated from the race. Then you get that inside [your mouth], and it’s like...” Verstappen trailed off for a bit, visibly wincing. “I’ve tasted better champagne in my life.”
This was the most I’d seen Verstappen cringe during the whole trip. Mind you, I also asked why he’s had so many problems with his DNF-prone race car this year—a sore spot if there ever was one.
Somehow, like a really revolting episode of Bizarre Foods, the intensity of Verstappen’s brief description only makes me want to do a shoey more. I nodded along and giggled to Verstappen’s description with the same mix of curiosity and respect I give Andrew Zimmern as he’s eating, say, rectum sausage.
I’d still try that, I thought. Someone has to see if Verstappen is exaggerating or not, and I am a gross person. The shoey is an exotic forbidden fruit which has thus far eluded me. It is a revolting experience that must be earned.
I’ve had the worst time trying to do a simple shoey this year. I was going to do one if I could just finish my first-ever full-24-hour race, and then the engine threw a rod in hour 19. Another team I’d joined was set to win our class at a Lemons race only to have its transaxle fall apart right at the end.
Maybe if I say I’m not going to do a shoey, then I’ll get to do a shoey.
Now that the taste was described to me in gruesome detail, I do need to sucker some poor teammate into doing one with me. That’s how this works, right? If it happens (which in the good name of not jinxing it, it won’t), I promise to report back as to whether I threw up or not.