The ATC Report

Tips For Better Racing, Part 1

Anyhow, here’s where our knowledge of the inner workings pays off for you – the potential future Amazing Racer.

“How To Read A Clue”

This would normally be another of our award-winning interviews with the most recently eliminated team, but we seem to have run up against some technical difficulties. It seems as though most of the racers in TAR6 have actually been reading these interviews after we publish them, and the general consensus amongst those remaining in the race is that they no longer wish to talk to us. (Except for Jonathan – we’re pretty sure he’s willing to talk to us, but he’s doing too well so far and incessantly fails to get eliminated.) CBS has even supported their ridiculous decision, and is now refusing to take our telephone calls. (And hey, CBS – tell Mark Burnette to call us, damn it! We have a new kick-ass idea for “Survivor.” Two words – secret immunity. That’s all we’re going to say…)
Anyhow, here’s where our knowledge of the inner workings pays off for you – the potential future Amazing Racer. Here is a picture of the actual Detour clue from the last leg of the race. Don’t ask us how we got it, that’s not important. (Top secret message to anonymous TAR6 Racer: TxHxAxNxKxS BxOxLxO.) Suffice it to say that we have meticulously inspected the clue (we even checked on the back for the give-away “Genuine Amazing Race Clue” watermark), and determined it to be authentic.

It seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? That’s where you’ve just gotten yourselves eliminated! Look again. There’s the title of the Detour (“Beer or Brats”), and some information on how to accomplish either of the two tasks, right? If that’s what you are seeing, then you will fail miserably at this Detour. You see, the information provided is only very general. If you were to look inside the folder that the clue came from, you would find a three- or four-page set of detailed instructions on each of the choices. The detailed instructions would provide you with directions to each of the locations, what exactly you will have to do when you arrive, the approximate fare to the locations by all major forms of transportation (taxi, train, aircraft, helicopter, hovercraft, rickshaw, horse & buggy, bicycle, pogo stick, and leap-frog), who the person in charge of the location is, where the nearest restrooms and food may be found, the approximate amount of time it should take to complete, and even includes the next in the series of Phil Keoghan’s “Nifty Sweaters” trading cards. The producers know that watching the racers read all this information (as well as gushing over the trading card) would make for very bad television, so they never actually show it. But every so often you will catch a glimpse of the detailed information sheet as the racers pretend to be navigating off of the “clue.”

So, now you’re ready for the Detour, right? Wrong again! Look one last time at the clue. Hey! What’s that down there at the bottom? It looks to be some type of code…wait a second…turn that clue upside down…why, it’s the “Hints” section!

That’s right, every “Detour” clue has a hints section on the bottom of the clue! Again, the producers don’t want you to know this so they never show teams actually reading the hints. However, the next time you are watching the Race, look for teams holding the clue upside down. That’s usually a pretty good sign that the team has just finished reading their hints. Sometimes, as in the case of Don and Mary Jean, the producers will provide them with lighted magnifiers. If you look at the hints above, you will notice that they tell the racers which is the easier task, and which is the closer task. They also let the racers know that they will be traveling a ways after they complete the Detour, so they should keep their taxis around. The hints also tell the racers that their next checkpoint will be the Road Block, and give a little hint about what the Road Block will entail. MOST ALL OF THE RACERS TO DATE ARE NOT EVEN AWARE THAT THE “HINTS” SECTION EXISTS! If you don’t believe us, go ahead and ask one of them! Even we missed one of the hints sections when we were racing – ergo, eighth place.

Here’s another little tidbit. Did you ever wonder why so many teams mispronounce location names (as well as other easy words), such as “Piddle-mints” instead of “pyramids”; or “Bins-bone” instead of “Brisbane”; or “Crap-Hole” instead of “Texas”? Look at this Route Info sheet from the last leg of the race. (Again, we guarantee its authenticity. You rock, Lori.)
First you have the normal route instructions, and just as with a Detour they are supplemented by four or five pages of further detailed instructions. But immediately below the route instructions is a section that the viewer (again) never knows exists! Right above it is the instruction, “DO NOT READ THIS ALOUD” – and the producers are very strict about seeing to it that the racers follow those directions. Below that each team can find instructions on how they are supposed to (mis)pronounce (in this case) “Brandenburg.” You might not get to see all the tripping and stumbling over syllables, but there is film of every team bollixing the name. During TAR4, we were required to mispronounce several locations. For instance, we were told to call it “Mar-sales” instead of “Mar-say.” Being from Chicago (where we pronounce “Des Plaines” as “Dez Planes”), that came easy for us – as do the phrases “…check youse guy’s tires”, “I dunno”, “How YOU doin’”, and of course, “the Cubs suck.”

Finally, did you notice the last part of the Route Info – the “Special Note”? Not all Route Info clues have these Special Notes, but when they do you had better pay attention. This one offers time credits. Others offer extra cash, your favorite camera crew for the next leg, a late check-out time from the pit stop, pre-paid limo rides to the next checkpoint, extra camera time during that leg, and complete sets of those Phil Keoghan “Kiwi Namemangler” trading cards. If you can accomplish the required task, you can win big. Do you think Jonathan acted that way because he wants America to think he’s a jerk? Heck no, he got a two-hour time credit!