The Amazing Race 7 - The Emmy winning Season 7 of the Amazing Race on DVD - complete with episode commentary and other extras.
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The Amazing Race FAQ
The information compiled here was gathered from several sources: careful viewing of the television show itself; post-race interviews of the racers and crew published on various websites; and, occasionally, the racers themselves. If you have a question you think should go in this FAQ (as well as comments and corrections), you can send it to us here. Special thanks to Brennan, Andrew, and Steve & Dave for pointing out some obvious errors and providing guidance when able to do so. Needless to say, any errors in this document are our responsibility alone.
The official CBS site also has
Phil Keoghan, the Amazing Host
- Who is that scrumptious host, and where is he from?
- How do you pronounce "Keoghan"?
- So, what's Phil's story?
- Does poor Phil have to stand out there on that mat the whole time?
- What else does Phil do during the Race?
- Where can I find a copy of the official rules?
- What's the basic premise of The Amazing Race?
- Is there any incentive for arriving first at a pit stop? Don't all the teams leave the pit stop at the same time?
- What happens if two teams tie for last place?
- What happens if both members of Team A step onto the mat after one member of Team B, but before the other member?
- Are teams who arrive in last place in a non-elimination leg penalized in any way?
- Do the teams know ahead of time which legs are non-elimination?
- Why are there non-elimination legs anyway? They seem unfair and anti-climactic.
- Couldn't production at least make it less predictable which legs end up being non-elimination legs? They always seem to place them all towards the end of the Race.
- How much money do the teams get, and what do the teams have to pay for?
- Are the teams allowed to try to gain money while on the race?
- OK, I'm confused about the rules for booking airplane tickets.
- What sorts of items are the teams not allowed to bring?
- What if a team has connections or friends in certain places?
- Are teammates ever allowed to separate?
- Why do they stand around reading the clues? I would get into my car first and read along the way!
- What happens if a team's car breaks down?
- What are the rules for Detours?
- What do people mean when they refer to a Detour as "Reckless/Chicken", "Tortoise/Hare", or "Salad/Dessert"?
- What are the rules for Roadblocks?
- How many, or how few, Roadblocks, must each teammate do?
- What are the rules for Fast Forwards?
- What if a team didn't use a Fast Forward until the very last leg? That would suck.
- Why did production reduce the number of Fast Forwards so drastically?
- What is the Yield, and what are the rules pertaining to it?
- How long must a Yielded team wait?
- How does a team know which teams are behind them when they reach the Yield?
- Is there a Yield point on each leg of the Race?
- What happens if several teams reach the Yield mat at the same time?
Time Credits and Penalties
- So, there are time penalties? Why? How is the length of these penalties determined?
- What if a team unintentionally skips a task?
- When are time credits given?
- What about when a team gets in an accident, or they are detained by law enforcement, or something else unfortunate like that? Are they given a time credit then?
- How are time credits and penalties applied?
- Are there any such credits and penalties that we don't hear about on the show?
- What happens if a time penalty puts a team in last place?
- What happens if a time credit would get a team out of last place? Is a different team eliminated?
Living on the Road
- Do the teams ever stop to eat or go to the bathroom?
- In cars, why does the other teammate always sit behind the driver? Wouldn't it be easier to sit next to the driver?
- Do the teams really have to pack for every possible weather condition?
- What is up with the matching outfits? Are they CRAZY?!?
- Are the teams allowed to wear clothes with logos on them?
- Can the teams take their packs on planes as carry-on items?
- Do the teams get to take pictures?
- Do the teams get doctors? What about shrinks?
- Are the teams allowed to listen to music on the road?
- During a leg of the Race, do the teams know where they are in relation to each other?
- Why don't we see more time-stamps? Why don't we get to see when teams check in?
- Why doesn't this show ever cast smokers?
- What do teams actually do at pit stops?
- How much time do they really get to sleep?
- Do the racers really stay at those cool pit stop locations?
- Do they get their own rooms and beds?
- Do they have to pay for their own food there?
- Can they leave the pit stop locations during their pit stops?
- I've heard that pit stops are sometimes longer than they appear on TV. Is this true? Why?
Casting and Pre-Race Activities
- How can I apply for The Amazing Race?
- Who's eligible to apply for The Amazing Race?
- What kind of crap do candidate teams go through before they are cast for the show?
- What do the teams tell people about where they went for a month? How long do they keep the secret?
- Are new teams allowed to contact old teams for advice before the race begins?
- How is the whole visa situation handled?
- Since the visa situation is handled some time before the race, don't the contestants know ahead of time where they're going?
- How is this show filmed, anyway? I never see any cameramen.
- What happens if the crew want to eat or go to the bathroom, or their camera breaks, or something?
- What if the crew can't get on the same train/plane/whatever as their team?
- Does the team have to pay for the crew's expenses?
- Is each team stuck with the same crew for the entire race?
- Where do the eliminated contestants go? I've heard of a place called "Sequesterville."
- Where were past "Sequestervilles" located?
- Can teams contact their loved ones while they're in Sequesterville?
- Do the losing teams get any cash prizes?
Phil Keoghan, the Amazing Host
Who is that scrumptious host, and where is he from?
Phil Keoghan is from New Zealand. His accent is not exactly typical Kiwi, though, because he spent a lot of his youth in the Caribbean and later in Canada, and because he's traveled all over the world throughout his life.
How do you pronounce "Keoghan"?
Phil's last name is pronounced "KOH-gahn." It rhymes with "Hogan."
So, what's Phil's story?
Phil is an adventure lover as well as a television personality. At the age of 19, Phil was temporarily trapped inside an underwater shipwreck. He nearly ran out of oxygen before he was rescued. This near-death experience changed his life, inspiring him to live it to the fullest. His daredevil activities led him to a number of hosting gigs on adventure shows, first in New Zealand and later elsewhere. Later, he applied to become the host of Survivor, and narrowly lost to Jeff Probst. Fortunately for him (and us), he instead became the host of TAR. More recently, Phil created and hosted a new limited series for The Discovery Channel, called NOW: No Opportunity Wasted, after his own personal life philosophy. In it, ordinary Americans are given 72 hours and $3000, but absolutely no other help, in order to accomplish a life dream.
Does poor Phil have to stand out there on that mat the whole time?
Production crew notify Phil ahead of time when a team is about to reach the pit stop. So he can relax somewhere until he gets the call. Phil also helps interview the teams after they check in.
What else does Phil do during the Race?
Most of the time, Phil and the rest of the producers are racing to the task locations and pit stops along with the contestants! They have an advantage in that they know where they're going ahead of time, but they must also make time to film Phil's narration segments as they go along.
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Where can I find a copy of the official rules?
You're looking at them! Heh, just kidding. As far as we know, there isn't an official copy of the rules available to the general public.
What's the basic premise of The Amazing Race?
The Amazing Race is a race around the world involving 11 (or sometimes 12) teams of two people. It starts and ends somewhere in the continental United States. The teams are pairs of people who share some sort of relationship, whether familial, romantic, or merely friendly. At the start of the race, the teams are given a "clue" (occasionally cryptic set of instructions) telling them where to go next and how to get there. Each clue leads to the next one. Along the way, the racers are given tasks to do, like "Detours" and "Roadblocks" (see below).
The race is divided into 13 legs. At the end of the first 12 legs is a pit stop, where the teams must rest 12 (or 36) hours before embarking on the next leg.* Eight (or sometimes 9) legs are "elimination legs," which means that the last team to arrive at that leg's pit stop is eliminated from the competition, so that after 12 legs, there are only 3 teams left. At the end of the last leg is, of course, the finish line, and the first team to reach it wins one million dollars!
*With TAR6, we now have the new double leg, with no pit stop between two sets of tasks. Where will the madness end?
Is there any incentive for arriving first at a pit stop? Don't all the teams leave the pit stop at the same time?
No, no, no. Teams usually stay at the pit stop for 12 hours. (There are a few extended pit stops during the race – a pit stop might be 36 hours.) So if Team #1 arrives at the pit stop 2 hours before Team #2, they get to leave 2 hours before Team #2. In addition, on some legs, the first team to arrive at the pit stop wins some sort of prize. The prizes have included such things as digital cameras, but most often are vacation packages.
What happens if two teams tie for last place?
Well, it's never happened before, but during TAR1, a tie for last place would have been broken by some sort of challenge. It appears that this rule changed for later seasons, because according to Steve and Dave (TAR4), the team who did worse in the previous leg is eliminated. (Of course, that still leaves up in the air what happens if the tie is on the first leg.)
What happens if both members of Team A step onto the mat after one member of Team B, but before the other member?
A team doesn't count as having reached the pit stop until both teammates step on the mat. So in this example, Team A is checked in before Team B.
Are teams who arrive in last place in a non-elimination leg penalized in any way?
In the first four seasons, last-place teams in non-eliminations legs were not punished in any way; it was just considered a lucky break. However, starting in TAR5, these last-place teams were ordered to surrender all remaining cash in their possession. In addition, they were given no money at the start of the next leg, so they were dead broke going into that leg, and had to beg or barter for money or services.
Do the teams know ahead of time which legs are non-elimination?
They're never told directly. In the first two seasons, however, the teams could guess which legs were non-elimination by the way the last clue was written. In elimination legs, this clue would say something like, "The last team to check in to the pit stop will be eliminated." But the last clue of non-elimination legs would say nothing about elimination. This changed in third season according to our interview with Zach: "After the 6th leg of the race, which was the final guaranteed elimination leg, all clues said 'the last team to arrive MAY be eliminated.'" While the "final guaranteed elimination leg" no longer seems to hold, this new clue wording has continued past season three.
Why are there non-elimination legs anyway? They seem unfair and anti-climactic.
That may be true, but consider it this way: how could the non-elimination legs be done away with? One potential solution is to simply reduce the number of total legs, thereby reducing the number of episodes. But we don't think any true fan of TAR would want this! It would also not fit in with a standard TV season (or half season) and would, therefore, make it difficult for the network to schedule the show.
The other possible solution is to start with more teams. But there are two problems with this. The first is that it's more expensive for production, which must pay all the travel expenses, camera crew salaries, and so forth for each team. TAR is already supposedly the most expensive reality show ever, and producers are constantly looking to reduce expenses. The second problem is that the audience already has some difficulty distinguishing 22-24 contestants. This seems to be a major reason why viewers decide not to continue watching after the first episode. Adding even more teams would not help, of course. In fact, this seems to be the reason why TAR5 and TAR6 have only 11 teams, in contrast to the 12 teams of TAR3 and TAR4.
Couldn't production at least make it less predictable which legs end up being non-elimination legs? They always seem to place them all towards the end of the Race.
Yes, they probably could distribute them more unpredictably (and in that respect, the producers mixed it up quite a bit in TAR5). However, again one must remember that the longer a team survives, the more money production has to spend on them. For that reason alone, the first several legs will probably always be elimination legs.
How much money do the teams get, and what do the teams have to pay for?
The teams are given a sum of money at the beginning of each leg. The amount given to them can vary from zero to at least $500. (During the third season, they were given an average of about $200 per leg.) They have to use this money for every expense during the leg except airplane tickets. That includes food, lodging between pit stops, travel guides, and any other transportation costs such as train tickets, taxi fares, or vehicle repair costs. If you don't spend all your money, it carries over to the next leg, so it pays to be frugal.
In earlier seasons, each team could also ask for a $200 emergency fund once during the race. The team's crew carries this money. We don't know much about this emergency fund because it's never been mentioned on the show, but teams have mentioned it in post-Race interviews. We have unconfirmed accounts that this fund was not available to TAR5 teams.
Are the teams allowed to try to gain money while on the race?
Sure, if they want to. We have seen teams begging for money at points all around the world. However, begging for money is no longer allowed in any US airport. Presumably, they can sell things in their backpacks.
OK, I'm confused about the rules for booking airplane tickets.
Yeah, so are we! The first basic rule is that teams do not and may not use the team's money to buy airplane tickets; they use the production crew's credit card.
The second rule seems to be that they cannot buy and use tickets that are more expensive than coach: no first class or business class. (This is presumably to keep production costs down.) So, the team can fly first class or business class if the airline offers to sell them these tickets at coach-class price. In the past, teams have been allowed to buy first/business class tickets to gain entrance to a limited access airport as long as they later trade those tickets in for coach class—with the appropriate discount, presumably. It appears that this rule has been updated and that teams are no longer allowed to buy anything except a ticket at coach prices. They cannot buy business class tickets and later trade them for coach seats. They can buy business class seats if the airline sells them at coach prices. Since they must purchase four tickets (two for team, one for camera, one for sound), if they can purchase two tickets in business and two in coach (all for coach fares) then the camera and sound person get the upgraded seats.
The third rule, it seems, is that teams may only buy one set of tickets per flight. So they can't buy all the tickets on a flight in an effort to keep other teams off the flight. But they can buy a set of tickets and later trade them in for better seats or a better flight. They can also buy for multiple airlines to the same destination as long as they are completely refundable and as long as it is not an attempt to derail the other teams.
What sorts of items are the teams not allowed to bring?
First, they're not allowed to bring their own money (including credit cards). Second, they can't bring any sort of useful information: no language books, travel books, maps, GPS units, almost anything electronic (even CD/DVD), etc. Nor can they bring written notes of that sort. (Although according to TAR1's Brennan, nothing stops you from memorizing that sort of stuff right before you leave, and then writing it all down in a blank notebook as soon as possible after the Race starts.) If teams want such items, they have to buy them with their Race money. And frequently they do. Finally, teams are not allowed to bring cameras, because the show does not want pictures to be leaked to the media.
What if a team has connections or friends in certain places?
A team cannot contact friends or other connections they had prior to the race. However, we have seen racers contact people they've met during the race.
Are teammates ever allowed to separate?
For the most part: no, unless you're going to the bathroom (and certain Roadblocks, obviously). Of course, since the teammates aren't literally joined at the hip, there is a bit of leeway. Teammates must stay within a certain distance (20 feet) of each other, presumably so that the single cameraman following them can get them both in the shot as often as possible.
Why do they stand around reading the clues? I would get into my car first and read along the way!
It's a rule. When a team gets a clue, they must stop what they're doing, including walking, and read the clue aloud together in front of the camera. (Well, only one of them has to read it aloud.) There is a test before the race begins. It is a high priority for teams to realize the importance of this rule.
What happens if a team's car breaks down?
Well, that depends on whose fault it is. If it is a vehicle that the Race production provided (i.e., a car that the teams have to drive themselves), and if the team didn't cause it to break down by doing something stupid like driving over sharp rocks, or putting unleaded gasoline in a car that uses diesel, then the team can request a new vehicle from the production crew—but they get no time credit for the time they lost waiting for the new one to arrive.
However, if the team caused the vehicle to break down, or if the vehicle is some sort of public transportation (taxi, bus, etc.), then the team is out of luck. They can try to get the vehicle fixed, or (sometimes) they can abandon it and find other transportation. In any case, no time credit is given, because breakdowns are simply one of the hazards of travel.
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What are the rules for Detours?
As Phil explains it, "A Detour is a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons." There is usually one per leg. There aren't any special rules to Detours; you can do one task, or you can do the other. Or you can start one task, quit halfway through, and go do the other. During the first season, if you wanted to switch tasks, you had to return to the clue box and state your desire to switch before you could continue to the other task. This rule is no longer in place.
What do people mean when they refer to a Detour as "Reckless/Chicken", "Tortoise/Hare", or "Salad/Dessert"?
As Miss Alli of TWOP explains it in the recap for TAR2: Episode 7: "Most Detours come in two forms -- Reckless/Chicken and Tortoise/Hare. In the first kind, you can either do something scary [Reckless] or something very slow [Chicken] -- hang gliding, bungee jumping, sandboarding, rock-climbing...these are all Reckless/Chicken Detours. In the second kind, you either do something conservative that you won't get done quickly but almost can't screw up [Tortoise], or something you might blow past in a hurry but might stumble on and really hose yourself [Hare]."
In her TAR4: Episode 2 recap, Miss Alli described a third type of detour: "It's sort of Salad/Dessert. Walking is a Salad; a gondola is Dessert. In theory, you always try to choose whatever you can finish first, but if it's hard to tell which is faster, it's hard not to pick the one that's cooler."
What are the rules for Roadblocks?
As Phil says, "A Roadblock is a task that only one person may perform." That is, one person per team. With the exception of the first leg, there is one Roadblock per leg. (A Roadblock was performed in the first leg of TAR1, but it was not shown. It's unclear if subsequent seasons had a first leg Roadblock as none have ever made it to air.) When the team gets the Roadblock envelope, there is a clue on the front that gives the team a hint as to what the Roadblock is. (Often, the team can figure out what the task is by observing their surroundings, or even watching the other teams doing the Roadblock right in front of them!) The team has to decide at that point which one of them will do the Roadblock. Once the team decides who is to perform the task and subsequently opens the Roadblock clue, changing who will do the task will cause the team to incur a four hour penalty. Usually, the other teammate is allowed to give advice and support, but not actually aid his or her teammate.
How many, or how few, Roadblocks, must each teammate do?
In the first five seasons, there were no restrictions on how many or how few Roadblocks each member of a team may do. However, in TAR6, the producers added a new rule stating that each member may do a maximum of six Roadblocks. This means that if they last the whole race, each team member will have done approximately half of the Roadblocks.
What are the rules for Fast Forwards?
The Fast Forward is a task that, when accomplished, allows a team to skip all remaining tasks on that leg of the race (including Detours and Roadblocks), and go directly to the pit stop. The Fast Forward clue is given to the teams somewhere along the leg as part of their clue envelope (not necessarily at the beginning of the leg). The first trick to the Fast Forward is that only one team can claim it per leg, so if you decide to go for it and another team beats you to it, you've wasted all that time and you have to go back and finish the remaining tasks in the leg (the Fast Forward is often found in a remote location). The second trick is that each team may claim a Fast Forward only once during the entire race. So each team must decide "when it is most advantageous to go for it," as Phil puts it. Another thing about Fast Forwards is that the tasks involved vary quite a bit in difficulty. It may involve simply finding a particular person in a well-known location, or it may involve hiking into and out of a dormant volcano. You just never know!
What if a team saved their Fast Forward for the very last leg? That would suck.
It would, wouldn't it? Fortunately, in the first four seasons, Fast Forwards were only available in every leg up to Leg 11. And in TAR5, there were only two Fast Forwards available in the entire race, the last of which was in Leg 8. So far, it appears that in TAR6, there is again a very limited number of Fast Forwards.
Why did production reduce the number of Fast Forwards so drastically?
The reason for this is probably to reduce production expenses. Production often spends a lot of money setting up elaborate Fast Forwards, and that money is completely wasted if no team even tries to claim them. Drastically reducing the number of Fast Forwards both reduces expenses and makes it much more likely that they will be claimed when offered. The teams of TAR5 knew going in that there would only be two Fast Forwards (but did not know which two legs they were on, of course).
What is the Yield, and what are the rules pertaining to it?
The Yield, which was instituted with TAR5, is an option that allows a team to force another team behind them to stop racing for a short, pre-determined period of time. It works like this: there is a Yield point—consisting of a giant yellow Yield sign, a mat, and a clue box—in a plainly visible location somewhere along the race route for each leg (usually just in front of another clue location). When a team encounters the Yield, they must step on the mat and declare whether they are going to use the Yield. The Yield is like the Fast Forward: only one team may use it per leg, and each team may use the Yield only once in the entire race. However, a single team may be Yielded multiple times during the course of the race.
Once a team decides to use the Yield, they put a large picture of the Yielded team on the Yield sign, as well as a smaller picture of themselves (so that the Yielded team may know who Yielded them). The Yielding team may then continue their race. When the Yielded team reaches the Yield point, they must turn over an hourglass and wait for the sand to run out before they can continue their race.
How long must a Yielded team wait?
It's unclear, because the exact amount of time has never mentioned on the show itself. It's not even clear whether every Yield is the same length of time. However, Colin has reported after TAR5 that he measured the length of the Yield applied to him and Christie, and that it was 32 minutes long.
How does a team know which teams are behind them when they reach the Yield?
According to TAR5 racer Mirna, there is no way of know for sure who's behind them. However, she says that the racers usually have a pretty good idea. It's unclear what would happen if a team tried to Yield a team that wasn't actually behind them: would they lose the ability to Yield on a future leg?
Is there a Yield point on each leg of the Race?
According to Mirna, there was in TAR5 (though we suspect that, like Fast Forwards, there aren't any after Leg 11). On most legs, though, if the Yield isn't used, it is edited out of the episode (again, much like Fast Forwards in previous seasons). In TAR6, the Yield was still present, but in a much reduced capacity. It was only available on three legs of the race.
What happens if several teams reach the Yield mat at the same time?
On the outside of the box next to the Yield mat, you may notice a set of little tags numbered 1-11. Basically, when multiple teams reach the Yield mat at the same time, they grab numbers, and then take their turns at the Yield in numerical order. Each team must wait for the teams in front of them to declare their Yield intentions before they can take their turn. (And again, once one team decides to use the Yield, no team behind them can use it during that leg.)
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Time Credits and Penalties
So, there are time penalties? Why? How is the length of these penalties determined?
A time penalty is given to a team whenever they break a Race rule or follow clue instructions incorrectly, whether intentionally or unintentionally. The size of the penalty depends on the situation. In most situations, the team is penalized the amount of time they gained by breaking the rules. Usually they are given an additional 30-minute penalty. The only exception seems to be when a team decides to intentionally skip a Race task, such as a Detour or Roadblock. Nancy and Emily did this in TAR1, and for doing so they were given a 24-hour penalty.
What if a team unintentionally skips a task?
Well, it seems to depend. In TAR3, Derek and Drew got lost looking for the Roadblock clue and managed to accidentally find the pit stop mat. They were told to go back and complete the Roadblock. But in TAR1, Davey and Margaretta accidentally skipped a Roadblock. The Roadblock would have had one of them walk partway up the Eiffel Tower and spy a TAR flag on the Arc de Triomphe with a telescope. According to the episode recap on TWoP, "It seems that … when they got to the Eiffel Tower, they ran right past the flag at the bottom that explained what they had to do. Through a combination of luck, guessing, and presumably seeing other teams running around, they (both) ran up the tower, where they got the skinny from Paul about the clue, and figured out that they should go to the Arc. Technically, this is a rules violation, because they both ran up the tower, which means that neither of them completed the one-person-all-alone-goes-up-the-tower task. Therefore, they received a time penalty."
When are time credits given?
Time credits are given whenever a team is slowed down by the production crew, for some reason. For example, if a team misses a train because their cameraman had to stop and change the batteries in his camera, the team gets a time credit for the time lost.
What about when a team gets in an accident, or they are detained by law enforcement, or something else unfortunate like that? Are they given a time credit then?
No. These are the hazards of real-life travel, and teams just have to deal with them.
How are time credits and penalties applied?
Between legs. Each team's departure time from the pit stop is adjusted according to the time credits and penalties accrued from the last leg.
Are there any such credits and penalties that we don't hear about on the show?
Sure. According to Team Guido, time adjustments happen all the time. We only hear about it if it noticeably affects the game in some way, such as altering the order in which teams leave the pit stop.
What happens if a time penalty puts a team in last place?
Then that team is eliminated (in elimination legs). And since a team only gets a penalty for not following directions correctly, they deserve it.
What happens if a time credit would get a team out of last place? Is a different team eliminated?
We don't know for certain, since it has never happened, as far as we know. Hopefully, in the interest of fair play, whichever team is last after all credits are applied is eliminated. But it would make for a pretty unsatisfying episode ending, for both the eliminated team and the viewers at home.
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Living on the Road
Do the teams ever stop to eat or go to the bathroom?
Yes, but according to TAR1's Team Guido, "not if you don't want to be eliminated!" Since the teams can always eat and go to the bathroom at pit stops (and the food there is free), most teams try to get through the leg with as few stops as possible. They also tend to fill their backpacks with pit stop food before embarking on the next leg.
In cars, why does the other teammate always sit behind the driver? Wouldn't it be easier to sit next to the driver?
The cameraman always gets "shotgun." And the sound man sits behind the cameraman, so that the cameraman can film either the driver or the other teammate.
Do the teams really have to pack for every possible weather condition?
Well, production has been known to give the Racers cold-weather gear in Alaska (TAR1 and TAR2), Canada (TAR5), and Iceland (TAR6), and we know that the last three teams of TAR5 were required to go collect some cold-weather gear when they arrived in Calgary. But it seems the racers had to bring their own cold-weather gear for the Italian Alps (TAR4). So it depends, we guess.
What is up with the matching outfits? Are they CRAZY?!?
Teams are encouraged by the producers to develop a "team identity" by bringing matching or coordinated outfits. Some teams take this guideline more seriously than others.
Are the teams allowed to wear clothes with logos on them?
In the past, no logos were allowed – if they appeared on contestants' clothing, they would be covered by pieces of tape or would be blurred out in post production. However, it seems that racers are occasionally allowed to promote their own businesses via their clothing. Also, if the clothing was provided as part of the task or by production, it will probably contain a logo, as it is most likely a paid product placement.
Can the teams take their packs on planes as carry-on items?
If the airline allows it, they can—and they will. No one wants to lose time waiting for their luggage to arrive, so teams try to carry their luggage on whenever possible. Occasionally, the crews are required to check their equipment as it exceeds the 35lb weight restriction for carry-ons.
Do the teams get to take pictures?
No, teams are not allowed to take cameras on the trip at all, for fear of the pictures being leaked to the press or spoiler websites. The production crew takes some pictures and sends them to the contestants after the race has aired on TV. There have been some tasks in the race that involved cameras. Some racers have managed to keep those cameras to snap a few pictures during the Race, but upon Race completion, they were required to turn the cameras over until after the show aired.
Do the teams get doctors? What about shrinks?
According to past racers, doctors and nurses are always available on short notice if needed, although the teams probably do not get time credits for medical delays. A psychiatrist is also available by phone at least after elimination, and maybe during the race as well.
Are the teams allowed to listen to music on the road?
Racers have reported that they could listen to the radio, but the production crew may ask them to turn it down or off if they are having problems recording the conversation.
Do the teams know where they are in relation to each other?
Not necessarily. The production crew tells them nothing. They only know for sure if they see the other teams. Sometimes they can tell by counting how many envelopes are in the clue box. But sometimes the production crew puts extra envelopes in the clue box. Also, each Detour often has its own clue box at the end of the task – so each box would contain a full complement of clues in case all teams choose that option.
Why don't we see more time-stamps? Why don't we get to see when teams check in?
Well, our guess is that knowing exactly how much time separates two teams would sometimes ruin the suspense of the episode. In addition, remember that many time credits and penalties are given to the teams between episodes. If the editors showed when each team checked in at each pit stop as well as the check-out times, they would have to explain the reason for every time adjustment.
Why doesn't this show ever cast smokers?
Racers are not allowed to smoke while on the race - period. Not during a leg, not at a pit stop, not at all. If they smoke, they have to quit before the race.
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What do teams actually do at pit stops?
According to Phil, they "eat, sleep, and mingle with the other teams." They have interviews with the storytellers, shower and, when facilities are available, do laundry. Teams probably also prepare and strategize for the next leg, and they have been known to call for taxis to meet them there at their departure times.
How much time do they really get to sleep?
Not much, it seems. With the eating, the mingling, the interviews, the laundry, the packing and unpacking, and the planning for the next leg, there's not a lot of down time. Also, it's difficult to force yourself to sleep when your body doesn't want to. Some teams have reported getting up to six hours of sleep at the pit stops – but this will obviously vary from team to team.
Do the racers really stay at those cool pit stop locations?
Not always. Sometimes they are moved to a more hospitable location nearby.
Do they get their own rooms and beds?
Not always; it depends on the location. Sometimes they all sleep in the same room. Sometimes they sleep on the floor. Sometimes they sleep in tents.
Do they have to pay for their own food there?
No, the food at the pit stop is free, which is why the teams will often not stop for food during the race (food bought during the leg is not free). Teams often fill their backpacks with pit stop food before embarking on the next leg.
Can they leave the pit stop locations during their pit stops?
No, they're confined to the pit stop. The show doesn't want the contestants to run around town and accidentally find the production crews setting up the next leg! Usually, the racers are too exhausted to go sight-seeing anyway. However, production has been known to occasionally set up supervised tours for the contestants during extended pit stops.
I've heard that pit stops are sometimes longer than they appear on TV. Is this true? Why?
Yes, there are extended pit stops. The pit stops are always extended by a multiple of 24 hours, so that when the show airs, the viewers can't tell which pit stops were extended. So, for example, if Team A checks in at 4 pm on Day 1, they'll still leave at 4 am. But they may be leaving on Day 3 or 4 instead of Day 2.
Pit stop extensions happen for a variety of production-related reasons: extremely bad weather, problems setting up the next leg, Phil being sick, a team lagging several hours behind the rest of the production, and so forth.
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Casting and Pre-Race Activities
How can I apply for The Amazing Race?
Keep a careful eye on the main CBS webpage. Once or twice a year, they'll post a message announcing that they're casting for the next season, and give a link to an application. If this announcement happens to occur during a TAR season, there might be short commercials announcing the fact during the show as well. But you'll want to check the website vigilantly, because once the announcement is made, there are usually only about 4 weeks before the application deadline!
Who's eligible to apply for The Amazing Race?
Americans citizens who will be 21 by the start of the race.
What kind of crap do candidate teams go through before they are cast for the show?
First, they fill out a lengthy application, and send that in along with a short video of themselves. Selected teams go through an initial interview process; the interviews are held in select cities around the U.S. The potential contestants must pay their own way to these interviews. After the initial round of interviews, a very select group of candidate teams is flown to Los Angeles and sequestered in a hotel where they are not allowed to talk to each other. There they are subjected to more interviews as well as psychological and physical fitness exams. Finally, they are interviewed by executive producer Bertram van Munster and top CBS executives.
What do the teams tell people about where they went for a month? How long do they keep the secret?
Teams are allowed to tell only a very select group of individuals about being on the Race and, of course, everyone who knows must sign a legal form swearing them to secrecy. Anyone who leaks information can be sued by CBS for ten million dollars. For everyone else, the teams must come up with some sort of story to tell their employers in order to get out of two months or so of work, and so forth. They have to keep up their story until the teams are announced by CBS about a month before the race airs on TV—whenever that might be. And of course, they can't tell anybody how well they or any other team did until the season is over.
Are new teams allowed to contact old teams for advice before the race begins?
No, since that would entail telling the old teams that they're on the race, which they can't do (see previous question).
How is the whole visa situation handled?
All paperwork required to get into countries visited during the race is filled out and handled before the race begins. Just because racers get visas for a country doesn't mean they are going to that country. Production likes to keep them guessing.
Since the visa situation is handled some time before the race, don't the contestants know ahead of time where they're going?
Not exactly, because the contestants fill out the paperwork for dozens of countries, not just the ones actually visited on the Race. In addition, there are many countries that don't require Americans to obtain visas before visiting.
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How is this show filmed, anyway? I never see any cameramen.
Ah, the magic of television! Every team is accompanied by a two-man production crew composed of a cameraman and a sound techie. In vehicles, the cameraman always rides "shotgun," and the sound tech sits behind the cameraman. So if they're in a car, the second teammate sits behind the driving teammate. And in a taxi, both teammates are squashed together behind the taxi driver (the better to get both teammates in one shot!).
In addition to these two-man crews, there are also extra camera crews set up at the locations of the race tasks.
But you almost never see these crews on the show, thanks to their own skill, as well as the work of the Amazing Editors.
What happens if the crew want to eat or go to the bathroom, or their camera breaks, or something?
Teams must stop if the crew calls for a food or bathroom break. (On the positive side, this allows the contestants to eat or go to the bathroom themselves.) If the production equipment breaks down, the team must stop what it is doing until the situation is fixed. However, the teams get time credits for any time lost because of these crew-related delays.
What if the crew can't get on the same train/plane/whatever as their team?
A team can never abandon its crew, so if the crew can't get on the vehicle, then the team can't either. So when a team books tickets on a train or plane, for example, they must reserve four tickets. On the show, you almost always see them say "two," but this is only said for the benefit of the audience. Off-camera, they ask for four tickets.
Does the team have to pay for the crew's expenses?
No, the crew pays for their own tickets, cab fares, and other expenses.
Is each team stuck with the same crew for the entire race?
No, the crews are rotated between teams frequently – sometimes at each pit stop, sometimes after every two or three legs. Also, they might have more than one crew for the final leg of the race.
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Where do the eliminated contestants go? I've heard of a place called "Sequesterville."
Most of the eliminated teams are brought to one centralized location (different for each season) for the remainder of the race. At this location, they are given a modest stipend and can relax until they are flown to the finish line at the end of the race. Sometimes they get to go on chaperoned trips. TWoP forum posters have dubbed this location "Sequesterville," and somehow this term has spread to many of the racers as well.
Where were past "Sequestervilles" located?
TAR1's Sequesterville was Paris, France; TAR2's was Cancun, Mexico; and TAR3's and TAR4's was Lisbon, Portugal. TAR5's Sequesterville was Chiang Mai, Thailand and TAR6's was in Cancun. Production tries to keep these locations secret, apparently so that they can reuse them without worrying about spoiler-hunters, but the locations always leak out anyway.
Can teams contact their loved ones while they're in Sequesterville?
No, because that would reveal to the loved ones that the team lost. The show does everything it can to prevent such spoiler information from being leaked to the media.
Do the losing teams get any cash prizes?
Yes, the losing teams do get small cash prizes, staggered according to how long the team stayed in the race. For some reason, these amounts are kept very secret (much more so than the Sequesterville locations), but we have heard rumors that the second-place prize for some seasons has been $25,000 or $50,000, and third place was $10,000 or $25,000.
According to Aaron of TAR6, here's the prize breakdown:
This is, however, unverified