The Return of the Racer Reports
To kick things off and introduce you to the TARflies and the teams, we've asked our intrepid writers to write a brief intro - summing up what happened with the team the first time out and predicting what might happen this time.
Charla & Mirna
One of the most memorable teams to appear on TAR5, it's no surprise Charla and Mirna are returning on TAR All-Stars. In their original appearance they quickly became a team people either love or hate, and often a bit of both. Charla is a dwarf who stands only 4 feet tall, yet from the very first leg of TAR5 showed her physical strength. When we saw her carrying a side of beef, it was clear she was going to be more competitive than many viewers expected. Mirna is as dramatic as Charla is strong, and her constant exclamations of "Oh my God!" accompanied nearly everything she did. While both racers do speak several other languages fluently, most notably Armenian and Arabic, their creative use of English mixed with words from other languages, or just made-up words altogether -- quickly dubbed "Mirnish" by fans -- was a source of great amusement and, occasionally, outrage to fans and fellow racers alike. There was also a lot of friction between Mirna and other teams, most notably the teams of Colin and Christie and brothers Lance and Marshall, and several shouting matches occurred along the way as a result.Although Charla and Mirna were expected by many fans to not last long on TAR5 because of Charla's size, they made it to sixth place through a combination of creativity, determination, and taking advantage of Charla's size where possible, to get extra assistance from locals. They also impressed viewers with how well they performed the various Detours and Roadblocks along the way -- most notably, Charla working her way through an entire kilo of caviar. While Charla couldn't keep up on foot with other teams, she was quick to find rides to enable her to keep up, such as from the workers in the cemetery in Buenos Aires. At times her size was actually an advantage. When climbing down into the Creation Room of the Great Pyramid in Egypt, Charla was able to stand upright and move very easily while other teams had to crawl on their hands and knees. And for sheer entertainment value, who can ever forget Mirna trying to get directions to the Shake Mega Disco from a street prostitute, or Charla covered with foam to the top of her head with nothing visible but her arms waving?
-- Mama Tiger
Danny & Oswald
Season Two featured several memorable teams but perhaps none more memorable than Danny and Oswald, the Cuban-born, gay best friends from Miami.
They were TAR trailblazers, being the first to utilize strategies that are now common practice in the Race. They were the first to employ the assistance of a local to ride along and help them navigate in an unfamiliar city. These helpful folks are now referred to by Race fans as "Ferns," so named because of the young schoolgirl, Fern, who agreed to be Danny and Oswald's guide in Bangkok. They were the first to turn to the experts for their travel plans, utilizing a high-end travel agency (recommended by the best hotel in town, of course!) to secure tickets on the fastest plane route to Sydney. They wisely learned to use the Fast Forward (back when there was a FF on every single leg) when it was "most advantageous to do so," and not just to get ahead - one teammate was ailing and they needed the respite (and the mimosas!).
One of the single most memorable moments in TAR history can be traced to Danny and Oswald - the trip to the Hong Kong shopping mall, while waiting for the travel agency to process their tickets. They took a breather from the Race and window-shopped, enjoyed a Starbucks beverage and even did a little actual shopping. Rejuvenated by their little side trip, Danny & Oswald capped off their golden day with a complementary luxury ride to the airport and a first place finish in Sydney.Dubbed "Cha Cha Cha" by Alex and Chris early on, they seemed to get along with their fellow cast mates but they made no alliances and ran their own race. They made an effort to stay out of the drama and separated themselves from the pack whenever possible.
Weaknesses? The biggest one, in my opinion, is the question of whether or not they possess the competitive fire and drive it takes to win the Race. Oswald, especially, fell victim to Killer Fatigue more than once. When given the opportunity to rest and refresh himself, he would find his second wind. Not only did the shopping trip provide Oswald (and Danny) with renewed energy, Oswald tells of another instance where getting the proper rest helped keep him in the game:
"One of my favorite Race moments didn't make it on-air. We were going from Bangkok to Chang Mai and I was in the worst mood you could possibly imagine, even on the brink of quitting the Race. Well, Mr. Danny was suffering from the gout and had some painkillers. He then proceeded to shove them down my throat and I ended up sleeping for the 15-hour train ride waking up with the best energy. Who says painkillers are downers? They saved my life!"
Unfortunately, the breakneck pace of the Race doesn't often allow for rest and relaxation - medicated or otherwise! When they were eliminated in New Zealand, it was clear that Oswald was ready to be done. As a matter of fact, he seemed disappointed when they discovered that the previous leg was a non-elimination leg. There are some people who think that Oswald really "quit" the first time. Will that happen again?
For this All-Star season, I expect to see vintage Danny and Oswald. They will still be smart. They will still be courteous. They will still be fabulous. But will they find the stamina and drive it takes to go all the way?
David & Mary
Look, it's one of those teams you see on TV!Almost two months have passed since David & Mary were on the air. For those of you suffering from Alzheimer's: They're parents from Kentucky. He's a coal miner. She's a homemaker. They formed part of TAR 10's "Back Pack," which later came to be known as the "Six Pack." They met Asians and Blacks and gays on the Race, and they liked 'em!
David & Mary's can-do attitude, their humility, and their eagerness to broaden their horizons earned them a place in many viewers' hearts. For those of us with no hearts, David & Mary's sloppy racing (mediocre navigational and challenge skills, three last-place finishes) speaks for itself. Their saving grace may also be their fatal flaw; it is their willingness to work with and, unfortunately, rely on other teams.
But I will be rooting for them in All Stars. Like Loretta Lynn, I'm proud to be a coal miner's supporter.
-- Big Slick
Dustin & Kandice
Dustin & Kandice met while rooming together at the Miss America pageant. Rivals at first, they quickly bonded and have been best friends ever since. Despite their personality differences, these two women share this: they are wildly competitive and determined to win.
Dustin Leigh-Seltzer was Miss California 2005. She is currently living in Seattle, Washington and is a graduate student studying Psychology. Dustin graduated Magna Cum Laude from California Baptist University with a BA in Speech Communications. She recently married her long-time sweetheart Luke and enjoyed a honeymoon in Greece. Dustin describes herself as competitive, energetic and positive.Kandice Pelletier, who was Miss New York 2005, is a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and in her senior year at New York University. She describes herself as charismatic, determined and vivacious. Kandice likes dancing, running and doing Pilates in her spare time.
These blonde, blue-eyed former Beauty Queens are back for a second chance and more determined than ever to prove to the world that they aren't just pretty faces. Dustin and Kandice are focused and have their sights on the Million Dollar Prize.
What is their strategy?
- To accept help when given, but to run their own race.
- When they make mistakes, to not panic. To try to treat each other nicely.
Both are positive that they can be the first female partners to win The Amazing Race.
Team Nicknames: The Beauty Queens, The Blondes, The Barbies, KanDu
Eric & DanielleDanielle can not be regarded as one of the great racers if her TAR9 experience is anything to go by. On the positive side, she was physically tough, broadly optimistic in outlook and showed determination to conquer a fear of heights. But although she and partner Dani started very strongly as the first team to reach Denver Airport, their lack of experience (they were the youngest ever two-person team), soon told. As the race progressed, they steadily lost whatever advantage they may have had. They found that feminine wiles didn't garner as much help as they thought; their grasp of driving stick shift proved limited; their navigational skills were poor; they made the colossal mistake of leaving their travel pack at a Detour location; and finally, the early onset of Killer Fatigue meant that they essentially gave up after being yielded in Sicily, despite having had enough time to escape elimination.
Apart from youth and physical prowess, a key asset this new team share is charisma. On many occasions in TAR9 both Eric and Danielle were able to charm and befriend local help, and their relationships with other teams were mainly cordial. The main questions about this hybrid pairing are whether Danielle has matured enough to become a better racer and whether Eric can handle much tougher opposition that could lead to lower placings than he is used to.
-- The Australian
Joe & BillGentlemen, to evil! Joe and Bill, more famously known as Team Guido or simply "the Guidos," are life partners who named their team after their toy fox terrier. They had the original "luck of the evil". They seemed to run a charmed race through the first 10 legs, with repeated top finishes and several narrow escapes from elimination. With their monogrammed hats, unfortunate tendency to gloat and seemingly endless supply of both self-confidence (some would say self-importance) and natty matching polo shirts, the Guidos quickly earned the animosity of the other Racers and made themselves the team we loved to hate.
Love them or hate them, it's undeniable that Joe and Bill are skilled racers with a strong relationship. They navigate well, are in good physical shape, and work well together. Their downfall was ultimately their over-confidence; perhaps they've since learned the value of humility. Or maybe not. We'll find out on All-Stars whether they plan once again to succeed through intimidation and treachery, or if time has softened their approach.
Oh, and they lived in Paris for two years. Who knew?
John Vito & JillHow excited am I to see this team again? I make no bones about it. John Vito and Jill, or JVJ as they are affectionately known, are my all time favorite Amazing Race team. They were brought together by their shared grief over Jill's brother, F.T., who was also John Vito's best friend. F.T. was tragically lost in the September 11th attacks. These two proved to be one of the most loving, supportive, friendly, and...well...most attractive couples ever to appear on the show. They've, unfortunately, parted romantic ways since their Race, but it's a testament to the type of people they are that they remain good friends and were able to team up once more for All-Stars.
Whether or not they will be giving off a "will they or won't they get back together" vibe, or whether that vibe distracts them this time around remains to be seen, but hopefully they've been able to strengthen up some of their weaknesses, and will be able to go the distance in All-Stars!
Kevin & Drew
Potential For An International Incident
From the moment longtime friends and fraternity brothers Kevin and Drew appeared on screen, they became fan favorites. Viewers cheered their "friendly and affable" approach to the Race, and guffawed as the bald buddies bickered their way through each challenge.
At locations like Victoria Falls or the Taj Mahal, Kevin and Drew took time to appreciate the beauty of the marvels they encountered as they journeyed around the globe. Whether asking for directions or assistance, or presenting a Mukuni leader with photos of indigenous animals - "Chief, this is the rhinoceros, this is the buffalo, Chief, and these are the zebras, Chief" - the boisterous New Yorkers disappeared and we saw a humble team emerge, respectful of their place as guests in foreign lands.
Kevin and Drew are also responsible for what some consider the first ever "alliance" on the Race. While they genuinely embraced Nancy and Emily's friendship, Kevin and Drew proved themselves to be shrewd racers, understanding that the main purpose in assisting another team is to give your own team an advantage. According to Drew: "We do have a motive helping them out. I'd rather have Nancy and Emily in the final leg than have to go against the Attorneys and Guidos." Hey, smart guys finish first. Three first place finishes, to be exact.
Swing, You Fat Bastard, Swing!
Who knew "jackass" and "idiot" would become terms of endearment? As Kevin and Drew's stress level increased with each task, their entertainment value rose proportionately. Unlike other teams, whose arguing made viewers want to throw our remotes through the screen, Kevin and Drew's brotherly squabbles made folks love them even more. "Zambia. That's where we are." "That's Namibia, jackass." Enough said.
We Gave It Our All
In an unexpected turn of events, fans of Kevin and Drew found themselves reaching for the tissues at the end of the eleventh leg in China. After Drew downed a huge plateful of chicken feet, beetles and squid before Joe Guido, their fate was sealed in the hands of a cab driver. Crossing the finish line a mere twenty-one minutes too late to race for the million bucks, Kevin and Drew left the Race with no regrets. Kevin quoted the teachings of Buddha: "'When you speak, just speak, when you feel, just feel, when you see, just see, when you hear, just hear,' and then the last one is, 'When you know, just know.' And we can walk away from here knowing that, you know, we did our best and it just didn't work out." Thus began the first of a string of "fourth place curses" in the history of The Amazing Race.
Okay, Uncle Junior! I'm Ready When You Are!
And so, original Racers Kevin and Drew are back for another trip around the world and a second chance at the million dollar prize. Everyone's wondering...will they make it all the way this time, or will they walk away once more with pockets empty but friendship overflowing? Will this run on The Amazing Race bring Kevin and Drew any closer to their goal of becoming bigger stars than Godzilla in Japan???? Only time will tell, and that time is drawing near.
We're just happy they're back, because Kevin and Drew... you had us at "jackass."
Rob & Amber
Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich were a controversial choice for The Amazing Race 7 as they were both well known reality contestants who had previously appeared on Survivor. They became engaged on the Survivor All-Stars finale, during which Amber won the million dollar prize and Rob finished second.Rob and Amber impressed many with their competitive drive and team spirit which led them to five first place finishes; however, others took issue with their reliance on Ferns (the local guides that they used in many locations), especially since their Survivor fame seemed to give them an advantage over the other teams.
Rob and Amber have married since their first appearance on The Amazing Race and are now known as Rob and Amber Mariano. They are a highly competitive team who work well together and, based on their past results, they are expected to be a threat to win The Amazing Race All-Stars.
Teri & Ian
Humping it! Pants falling down! EYE-an! Paper skivvies!
These two are still the oldest team to make the top three. Since TAR 3's race to the finish line pretty much came down to who got the best cab, they very well could have been the winners. Scary thought!They may also hold the title for the very first "creepy synchronized head turn" during the opening credits.
We learned post-race that Ian quit smoking cold turkey for TAR 3. Was this part of the reason for some of his aggression? Maybe, maybe not. Reportedly, he didn't go back to the cigs post-race, so it'll be interesting to compare his behavior now to his behavior then.
Yeah, he yelled at Teri a lot. She yelled at him, too. It was the way he yelled at her that was the issue for a lot of people. He got the redemption arc when they arrived in Vietnam, where Ian served in the Marine Corps in the 70's. We saw a totally different Ian. Who knew he could have fun? The good times didn't keep him and Teri from continuing to race hard, and they kept themselves toward the top of the pack.
It doesn't seem to matter whether or not they like each other at the time. They race hard and smart either way. We'll see if age has slowed them down, or if they're still as sharp as they were the first time around. I think they'll stick around for awhile. I just hope Ian brings that stupid Pepe LePew hat.
Uchenna & Joyce
Uchenna and Joyce Agu, from Season 7, are the only previous winners to be represented on TAR All-Stars. Can they repeat their victory?
Before appearing on TAR7, the Agus had experienced a series of personal and professional challenges. Both had worked at companies which had gone out of business - Uchenna at Enron and Joyce at WorldCom. In addition, their unsuccessful attempts to have a child had created tension in their marriage. They wanted to run the race partly for financial reasons but mostly to re-establish a close relationship. Their marital discord was completely unapparent during the show, however, as they were consistently supporting and loving to one another.The Agus have continued to struggle with fertility issues and again claim that they want to race to help heal the strain this has put upon their relationship.
Joyce demonstrated immense determination on a couple of occasions in the race. First, in Argentina, she was thrown from a horse twice and immediately got back on and completed her Road Block. Most memorably, she and Uchenna took the Fast Forward in India and she had her head shaved, tearfully but unhesitatingly. Although she remarked, "My inner beauty will have to come out and shine," her physical beauty was also stunning, with or without hair.
Joyce and Uchenna also have a strong appreciation of other cultures. Uchenna was especially happy to visit Africa since his father is Nigerian, and both thought that the dervishes in Turkey were beautiful (as opposed to at least one other team, who called them "creepy"). A couple of other nice moments occurred in South Africa. One was when they visited the Children's Home and talked about their openness to adoption, and another was when they tried to help the "older couple," Gretchen and Meredith, with a strenuous physical task in London.
The end of TAR7 was marked by luck, both good and bad, excitement, and controversy. After arriving last in a non-elimination leg in Jamaica, Uchenna and Joyce had to continue the race with no money or possessions. They were able to catch up to Rob/Amber and Ron/Kelly as a result of begging and an operating hours bunch in Puerto Rico. Later, in San Juan, it seemed evident that Rob/Amber would be the only team on the first plane to the finish line city of Miami once the jet way was pulled. Remarkably, however, it was rolled back to allow Uchenna and Joyce to board. Many "Romber haters" reveled in Uchenna and Joyce's ultimate victory.
Although there was no apparent rivalry between Uchenna/Joyce and Rob/Amber during most of TAR7 (in fact, they had a short-lived alliance early in the race), post-race comments by both teams indicate that there may be some residual contention. Rob has expressed a little bitterness about "planegate," and the Agus have injected a note of moralism into the outcome of TAR7, claiming that "the good people" won. Will this be a factor as the two teams face each other again in All-Stars?
Prediction: Uchenna and Joyce will be a delight to watch and will go far. They may even win again!