Tips For Better Racing, Part 2
“The STOP RACING and Other Lesser-Known Clues”
So you thought you were an expert on The Amazing Race, didn't you? You thought you knew almost everything there was to know about how the Race worked. You knew all the clue types (Route Info, Detour, Fast Forward, and Road Block), you knew about bunching, you knew about Pit Stops (and how some of them were even longer than 12 hours—but always in increments of 24 hours beyond the initial 12), you even knew about the “Yield” and could explain it to anyone who asked. Heck, you're so smart, you can probably even explain the NHL's “Icing” rule.
Even though you are quite the TAR expert, there's still one thing you don't know. The reason you don't know about it is that, until TAR 6, it had never before been used. We're talking about the “STOP RACING” clue. That's right, the “Stop.” If you think about it, it really makes a lot of sense. After all, the race already has a “Go” (Route Infos and Fast Forwards), a “Yield”, and even a form of “Speed Limit” (Road Blocks and Detours); why shouldn't it have a “Stop?”
Below is an actual “Stop” clue, issued during the last leg of TAR6. (Do we really need to assure you of its authenticity? Steve and Dave have connections. Isn't that enough reason to believe?)
Normally, teams find their clues in clue boxes located along each leg. The “Stop” clue is different in that it is carried by each camera crew and is handed to the racers at the direction of the production staff. (The crews have been warned under penalty of their jobs not to hand out the “Stop” without specific direction from the producers. “We were hungry,” just isn't a good enough reason.) Additionally, there is only the clue folder (shown above), with no specific clue inside of it (as there would be with each of the other types of clues). There aren't any detailed instructions within, either—all further instructions after the “Stop” is issued are relayed to the camera crews via telephone. The crew then passes those instructions on to the racers they are traveling with. And you, the viewer, will never be aware that any of that had occurred, since it will never be shown.
The “Stop” is only used when the production staff decides to split a leg over two episodes. (Of course, it could also be used in cases of extreme emergency, such as a terrorist act near the next checkpoint, or civil war breaking out in the next country the race is to visit, or a Madonna concert that all the crews had tickets for.) Thus, the only way the ultra-knowledgeable viewer would know that a “Stop” had been issued would be when “To Be Continued . . . ” showed up at the end of an episode.
This is the first time the “Stop” has ever been used. Heck, it wasn't even developed until partway through TAR3. The racers in TAR3 weren't officially told of the existence of the “Stop,” because it was handed to the camera crews during one of the Pit Stops and was then never used. During our rules briefings prior to TAR4, we were told of the “Stop” and shown what it looked like, but, again, it wasn't used. Several of the TAR5 racers have confirmed that the producers didn't show them the “Stop” during their pre-Race rules briefings, but did mention the fact that it existed.
Here's another clue that the casual viewer probably doesn't know about, but that true aficionados of TAR should recognize almost immediately. It is officially called the “Delay,” but is commonly referred to as the “BUNCH UP.”
Bet you didn't know THAT was an official Race clue, did you? The “Bunch Up” is also different from most clues in that it is not delivered to each team individually, but is instead found along the race route, generally near a location that all teams must enter to complete a task/get a route instruction.
While the “Bunch Up” itself is not found within a regular clue envelope, instructions for dealing with the “Bunch Up” are. In the detailed instruction sheets that are given with the Route Information clue that leads to the “Bunch Up,” teams are told what to say on arriving at the “Bunch Up,”for example:
- “Oh crud, now everyone will catch us.”
- “We raced so hard to build this lead, and now it's gone.”
- “Oh look, we've caught up!”
- “We've been waiting so long for this to open—here come the BFGs,” etc.
As you can see from the envelope and clue above, the “Argue” clue is pretty specific. It always specifies whom the racer(s) must argue with, and it sometimes goes on to say what the argument must be about and when it must occur. The “Argue” clue is always given with the first clue of each leg, so that the producers can ensure the proper team gets the clue.
Remember, most teams will never get an “Argue” clue. Generally, the teams that get one “Argue” will continue to get them throughout the Race. Thus, you can generally identify those teams by their continued and ongoing arguments (see: Flo & Zach). Even though you see a team having a heated debate with someone else, it doesn't necessarily mean they received an “Argue” on that leg. They might just be practicing in case they eventually do get an “Argue,” they might be arguing without direction from production (also known as “improv” arguing), or they might just be assholes.
From Steve & Dave to all the folks who have actually taken the time to read one of our diatribes — we wish you and yours the best of this holiday season.