Exclusive: Art Velez and J.J. Carrell talk 'The Amazing Race' (Pt. 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/09/2012
Art Velez and J.J. Carrell finished The Amazing Race's twentieth season in second place during Sunday night's two-hour finale broadcast, which featured the edition's eleventh and twelfth legs, of the CBS reality competition.
The "Border Patrol Agents and Friends" finished ahead of "Engaged Couple" and former Big Brother houseguests Rachel Reilly and Brendon Villegas -- who came in third place -- and "Dating Divorcees" Vanessa Macias and Ralph Kelley, who finished fourth and were ineligible to compete in the final leg. However, Art and J.J. failed to beat champions and "Married Couple" Rachel Brown and Dave Brown by only a matter of minutes and lost the one-million dollar grand prize as a result.
On Monday, Art and J.J. talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race experience -- including whether they were really okay with finishing as the runners-up or were even more disappointed about losing than they let on, what they had to say about the major mistake Rachel and Dave made in skipping the last Roadblock task of the season, how hard Art apparently tried during the Hawaiian-games task to finally land the sled safely, and whether Art thought the women had an advantage during that Roadblock he struggled to complete.
Below is the first half of our exclusive interview with Art and J.J. Check back with Reality TV World in the coming days for the concluding portion.
To read Rachel B. and Dave's interview, click here. To check out what Rachel and Brendon had to say about the Race, click here. And finally, to begin reading Vanessa and Ralph's interview, click here.
Reality TV World: Congratulations on being the runners-up of The Amazing Race! How does it feel to have finished in second place? Are you guys disappointed because you came so close to winning the million or are you satisfied with how you ran all the legs and proud of how far you made it?
J.J. Carrell: We're still pretty damn devastated that we didn't win, but we got to do something that tens of thousands -- hundreds of thousands -- people would kill to be able to do. So we were able to fulfill one of our goals and to experience the Race from the beginning all the way to the end. But to be that close was very, very tough -- real tough.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Rachel and Dave today, they said you got to the Pit Stop about 20 minutes behind them and then Rachel and Brendon finished the Race about 20 minutes behind you guys. Would you say that was accurate or no?
Art Velez: Yeah, I'd say that was pretty accurate because by the time they left, it was about 20-30 minutes by the time they cleared out of there when we were still on the hill doing the sleds.
Reality TV World: Since you guys left that final Hawaiian-games Roadblock task in second place, when you finally arrived at the Finish Line and before you saw Rachel and Dave standing there, were you convinced you had finished the whole thing in second place or did you think you still had a real shot at winning?
J.J. Carrell: We knew we were second. After we saw Dave and Rachel leave, we knew. But at the same time, we thought -- I mean, we're both optimists -- so we said, "Hey, they made a terrible mistake. Maybe they made some other mistake. Maybe they have some time penalty or something, so we're not going to quit. Let's just keep plugging through this sucker and let's get on that mat and see where we stand."
Reality TV World: During the final leg of the Race, Rachel and Dave apparently misread the clue and didn't follow the marked path they were supposed to in order to make it to the Hawaiian games Roadblock task. Do you think that was an easy and understandable mistake they had made or were you shocked they managed to make that error?
Art Velez: You know what? I never really thought about it that way. I just thought that something happened with their cab or they got lost or made a wrong turn or something. I never knew that they ended up going to the Pit Stop, or to the end, and then got turned around.
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So, that's not anything that I -- with all the things that you do and by the time you're towards the end of something like that, with the sleep deprivation and no food and no water, you just tend to overlook stuff and you just misread things.
I mean, Rachel and Brendon didn't read that they were supposed to go to the helicopters on foot and they ended up driving somewhere in the complete opposite direction. It's just one of those things that you're just so tired by the time you get to do this stuff, that you just lose attention to detail.
Reality TV World: Rachel and Dave said it took them about an hour to backtrack and get to the Roadblock task you were at after they met Phil at the Pit Stop learned of their mistake. So based upon that, Art, you must have been going at the sledding portion of the task for awhile. How long did it take you to complete and how many tries did it take you to finally land the ride?
Art Velez: I was probably there for about an hour, an hour-and-a-half, and we figured that I probably did the sled anywhere between 40 and 50 times.
Reality TV World: Oh wow, that's a lot! So J.J., you seemed extremely frustrated when Art was having trouble with the sledding task. What was going through your mind at that point? Did you feel totally defeated or still optimistic, and do you think the whole outcome of the Race would've been different had you decided to do the task instead?
J.J. Carrell: I was feeling two emotions. I was feeling frustrated obviously because especially when we saw Dave and Rachel, we were like, "Oh my God, we've been in first but we've been in first for about an hour." I was like, "Art, I thought maybe she would tumble a couple times and maybe give Art a chance to get down."
But then another part of me was sad for Art, and I don't know if sad's the right word, but I felt compassion for Art because he was trying so hard. It just wasn't -- it was one of those days that just wasn't your day. If I threw Art up there on a sled today, he would slide down and do it like the first or second try.
And as far as me doing it, you know, that's second-guessing. If we go back and you look at all the things Art did that I wouldn't be good at, that got us all the way to the end, you can't second guess it. And all we wanted to do was be in the Final 3 to make the shot at winning and we did.
We put ourselves right there for over an hour to be in first and that was our for the taking, and for whatever reason, it just didn't happen. But I'm proud of Art. He could've given up. He could've just said, "I'm done." And 50 times, people have gotta understand. You're carrying a sled all the way back up a hill that he already has bad turf toe from his Japanese treadmill.
And to go up and down that hill and keep crashing -- I'm not talking like, "Wow, he just fell off." I mean, he had some violent wrecks. His sled was tumbling over him, he's rolling down the hill, he looked like a greased pig by the end of that thing.
Reality TV World: (Laughs) Art, did you end up with any injuries from that sledding Roadblock task? And do you think it was a task that was much easier for women, or maybe it just favored lighter people in general? Or would you admit you just happened to be really bad at it? (Laughs)
Art Velez: To me, you definitely had to be -- if you were of smaller stature, you were going to do a lot better, because the thing was only eight inches wide. I mean, I'm 240 pounds for crying out loud, and trying to get on that thing and balance on it, I never in my mind didn't think that I wasn't going to stay on it.
That just never crossed my mind. We had a choice of three sleds and I picked the sled with the smallest rail, thinking it was going to be the fastest one, and that's all I wanted to do. I wanted to do it the fastest that I could, but I probably should've picked a sled that had maybe thicker rails, because the balance part of it never even crossed my mind.
Reality TV World: So would you say that Hawaiian games Roadblock task was entirely responsible for your downfall in the finale or would you say other factors contributed to your second-place finish like when you guys traveled to the beach rather than the Twin Towers?
Art Velez: By then, when we traveled to the Twin Towers, I mean, okay we were in third place, but we made up a ton of time. By the time we got to the helicopters and we did the jet skiing and all that stuff, yeah.
We put ourselves in the position to win, so if not being able to complete that sledding thing was our downfall, then absolutely, because we were in first place and we couldn't get it completed in time to win. So absolutely.
Above is the first half of our exclusive interview with Art and J.J. Check back with Reality TV World in the coming days for the concluding portion.