Exclusive: Tim Wiyninger and Daniel "Danny" Merkey talk 'The Amazing Race' (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/04/2013
The Amazing Race eliminated Tim Wiyninger and Daniel "Danny" Merkey during Sunday night's sixth broadcast of the CBS reality competition's 23rd season.
The "Best Friends" became the fifth team eliminated from the around-the-world competition after they arrived at the Race's sixth Pit Stop at The Gloriette, the centerpiece of the Schonbrunn Palace's garden, in last place.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, Tim and Danny talked about their The Amazing Race experience. Below is the first half of their interview. Check back with us on Tuesday for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: How far behind Allison "Ally" Mello and Ashley Covert do you think you finally arrived at the Pit Stop? It looked like they finished the singing Roadblock task just a few short minutes before you guys.
Tim Wiyninger: We finished the Roadblock challenge like right after them. They sung it and then I sung it and we left. And then when we actually checked-in at the Pit Stop, I would say we were about 10 minutes behind. I think they had better luck finding a taxi cab. I think they probably got a taxi right when they left, but we had to run about a mile or two miles to find a taxi cab.
Reality TV World: So at that point, were you fairly certain you were in last place or did you think your chances were still pretty good of beating Ally and Ashley to the finish -- maybe you hoped they had gotten lost or something like that?
Tim Wiyninger: We thought that we still had a shot when we left, and even when we got to [Schonbrunn Palace], we saw Ally and Ashley still there. We were trying to be quiet. We didn't want them to know that we were there because we didn't know that they had already done the maze.
We thought they might've skipped the maze completely and then when they got to the Pit Stop they would have to go back and complete the maze. So we were trying to be sneaky and get through that maze pretty quietly, so whenever we got done and got to the mat, we [thought] we'd be ahead of them and were hoping they'd have to go back.
Reality TV World: Tim, what was the toughest part of the singing Roadblock for you? Was it the pronunciation, the rhythm or staying in tune, or was it a combination of everything? Also, how long did it take you to complete it?
Tim Wiyninger: All of the above. I can't sing in English and I can't speak German, so when you put those two together, it's just a train wreck. I don't know exactly how long I was there, but I know I was probably with the teacher for about 45 minutes to an hour before I even took my first take. So it was pretty, pretty difficult. I don't know the exact time. Danny might know the time better than I do, you know, being up there.
Daniel "Danny" Merkey: Oh, I don't know! It was difficult for me watching everybody sing, and everybody sang once or twice -- they had it at one or two attempts before I ever even saw Tim. So it was a long time. He was definitely the last one to give it a try and whenever he came up, I was hoping he'd be a little bit better than it was for as long as he was down there.
Reality TV World: A big part of the Roadblock task was sitting down with a vocal coach to learn the song before performing it. Tim -- it showed you saying the coach had you doing "ridiculous" warm-up exercises and such -- do you think the vocal coach you had played any role in your struggle to learn the song? Since everyone had a different coach, I was wondering if their different teaching methods either hindered or helped a Racer's ability to perform the song.
Tim Wiyninger: Well, I'm not 100% sure if it helped or hurt me. He was a good teacher, he really was. It was just, I don't know what the urgency was, I guess, on it. Because for me, I'm trying to get it as fast as I can, but he's trying to help me pronounce it and do all of this other stuff.
I think he did as best as he could and I appreciate it, because he did a good job, but maybe another teacher might've been a better suit for me.
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Reality TV World: Danny, you were shown saying you didn't think you could've done a better job than Tim did with the song. Did you really mean that or were you just trying to be a supportive teammate at the time to keep Tim in good spirits?
Daniel "Danny" Merkey: No, I pretty much really meant it! I'm a pretty terrible singer myself, I mean, I don't know if I could've -- I mean, as bad as he was, it's hard to say there's anybody worse. (Laughs) I'm just kidding with him.
Tim Wiyninger: So sing a couple [lyrics] for us! (Laughs)
Daniel "Danny" Merkey: Nah, I'm good. I'm just glad it was Tim and not me, honestly, because he was more focused than I would've been, and he can keep his cool better than me. I would've been really frustrated by the third or fourth attempt, especially watching everybody else pass us by. As bad as it was, he was better suited for that.
Reality TV World: Why do you think no one wanted to try the "Light Brigade" Detour task? It's rare when not even one team attempts the second task. Were people afraid of the fact you had to get it right in one try or something?
Tim Wiyninger: I don't know! Whenever we read the "Masquerade" challenge, we just thought it was easier because you just have to match something, and I don't know. We're pretty good at [detail].
We actually got through that one faster than, I think, any of the teams when we went in. We actually walked in, and right when we walked in, we saw a couple there [with our masks]. So we weren't even there for two seconds.
And I didn't even know what the other Detour was going to be until I watched it on the television at home. But I'm so glad we didn't choose that one, because that seemed like it would've taken a long time.
Reality TV World: There was a four-plus hour layover in Warsaw when everyone was waiting for the next train to Vienna. What did you guys do during that down time, and when Leo Temory and Jamal Zadran insisted to everyone they hadn't U-Turned Brandon Squyres and Adam Switzer, did you believe them or no?
Daniel "Danny" Merkey: Well while we were there, we just kind of talked with the other teams. We were just hoping we wouldn't see Leo and Jamal and Ally and Ashley, [but] of course we did.
I mean, yeah, everybody knew at that point pretty much that they had U-Turned the beards. So it was just, I mean, there was really no point in them saying they didn't, but I guess they thought it was important for people to think that they didn't, (laughs) I don't know.
Reality TV World: It's apparent there is bad blood between Leo and Jamal and most of the other teams. So going back to that Double U-Turn, you two were shown U-Turning Leo and Jamal and saying you made the decision just because you were confident the two guys were behind you and you didn't want to get eliminated. However, was that all there was to it or would you say you made the decision in part because of personal issues you had with them?
Daniel "Danny" Merkey: Ugh yeah, they kind of rubbed me, myself, the wrong way at the airport when we were going to Portugal because they insisted they were trying to help us out.
But deep down, I knew they basically trying to have us tag along with them as insurance in case they -- because then it was them and the "Ice Girls" and obviously they're in an alliance and for them to drag us into that, it was kind of -- watching the show, I knew that what I had thought was fairly true.
But they were basically just trying to play us at the airport, so I was not impressed by Leo and Jamal at that point although they're good guys. I came to like them but I just, me and Tim, I feel like went about the Race completely different than they did. And I don't know.
Tim Wiyninger: Whenever we got to that U-Turn board, the main reason we U-Turned them was because we were the first team that got to the dancing challenge and we were there 30 minutes before any other team was, that polka challenge.
And after you see [Jason Case and Amy Diaz] go by and then [Nicole Jasper and Travis Jasper] and you're still there and you don't see any other teams go by, you automatically assume that everybody else took the other Detour.
So when we were leaving and saw Leo and Jamal, that's the main purpose why we U-Turned them, because we knew they were behind us. And it just so happened to be a team that we weren't too fond of. If there's one team to U-Turn based on just nothing, then [it'd] be the Afghanimals just because of how they were running the Race. But it just happened to go hand-in-hand with each other.
Above is the first half of Tim and Danny's exclusive interview with Reality TV World. Check back with us on Tuesday for the concluding portion.