On “The Amazing Race” a couple weeks back, Monster Trucker Rob French blamed a local Bangladeshi riverboat captain for costing his pairing the million dollar prize due to a faulty end-of-Leg delivery.
Rob spoke too soon. The transportation screw-up only cost Rob & Kelley one place in that particular Leg.
It was a different travel gaffe, this one self-inflicted, that officially ended things for Rob & Kelley. On an early morning in Istanbul, they were the only team to take the Metro to a clue marker, eschewing taxi cabs for fear of traffic congestion. Had there been gridlock in Istanbul that day, Rob & Kelley would have been the beneficiaries of that decision. Instead, they spent a full episode lagging in last place, unable to make up enough time to recover.
“[W]e were all good with getting eliminated, but when we saw that last night, it pretty much upset us, because we felt that they didn’t get what was due them,” Rob told me when we spoke on Monday morning.
Both Rob and Kelley expressed disappointment that Natalie & Nadiya and Trey & Lexi weren’t penalized in any way for pocketing $100 belonging to Mark & Abba, an appropriation of funds that left The Rockers begging for cash in the streets of Bangladesh. They also seemed rather unimpressed that Beekmans Josh & Brent received a penalty that amounted to eating an ice cream cone.
Of course, Rob & Kelley were mostly full of praise for Josh & Brent, who they bonded with along the Race. In the exit interview, they discuss their lone wolf strategy, their Istanbul travel strategy and why they felt like underdogs.
HitFix: Starting with Sunday’s episode… When you look back on things, was your elimination really just as simple as taking the wrong transportation in Istanbul?
Kelley Carrington-French: Absolutely. We didn’t have any trouble with the tasks at hand. Everything went smooth. There were two Metros there. There was the first one we were on and then you had to get off and go a couple city blocks and cross a big street and get on another. That’s one we should have avoided. That one had a million little inner-city stops and we should have just gotten a taxi after the first one.
HitFix: What research did you guys do before you got to Istanbul to make that choice?
Kelley: We talked to some people on the airplane and then when we got off in the airport, we talked to people there. They just said that the city streets are so crowded and the traffic is terrible going in the direction that we wanted to go and that we would be far better off to take the Metro. Unfortunately, that day the city streets were not that busy.
HitFix: To what do you guys attribute the fact that you got different advice from what all of the other teams got?
Kelley: I don’t know. I don’t know where they got their advice from. We just got it from locals that lived there and commute daily. We were on the Metro with the people. We were asking the people who were using it and they said definitely that they travel to the direction we were headed and that that was the way to travel.
HitFix: Is it frustrating that you weren’t at least eliminated because of a challenge you couldn’t do? Or is it somehow reassuring that it was something that out of your control, at least to some degree?
Kelley: We had control over how we traveled. We made the choice. But in actuality? Yeah. Absolutely it’s better to be eliminated, I think, because of something out of your control than not being able to do a task or failing to do a task. We’re very competitive people and we strive to do the best we can every time we do something, so it would have been harder for us had we lost out because we couldn’t accomplish something.
Rob French: I totally agree with what she’s saying. If you watch the show from the beginning, we rocked every single task. The harder the task, the better we were at it. I felt like as much as we were the underdog at the beginning and people were counting on us to be out the first week or the second week, I thought that we did a great job and, as you can see, me and Kelley work very well together. Basically when I got to the mat last night, I told the whole the world how much she meant to me and we were a team for life and we were one, we weren’t individuals. We do everything together and that’s basically how we live our life, day-to-day.
Kelley: I think we’re both bull-headed and we refuse to copy or follow along with other people, so I think sometimes our decisions were made more out of spite than maybe a decision we might have made along the way, but we refused to tag along and follow other people and go with their choices. It is what it is.
HitFix: Why did you guys feel like you were underdogs from the beginning?
Rob: It came from straight out of Phil’s mouth. He didn’t feel that I was physically fit enough to do the challenges and to do the Race after the first week when he made the comment, you know, “You look like you’re breathing hard and you’re sweating. Do you even think you’re going to be able to make it through the Race?” Him not looking that there were six teams behind me. I don’t know. That was kinda our feeling. We were the oldest couple on the Race. I think we opened a lot of eyes to the young kids that old people still got it too, you know?
HitFix: Let’s talk about what “being in shape” even means. There were tasks out there where you seemed to have the strength of several men. Were there ways in which you were clearly in shape and maybe others ways in which you weren’t as in shape as you might have liked to have been?
Rob: No, not really. We live a physical life. Rolling around 750-pound monster truck tires two or three times per week or lifting a 175-pound transmission and holding it one hand and putting the bolts in to change the transmission in a race truck, Kelley riding four or five or six horses a day every single day of her life, we’re in pretty good shape. When I see the muscle-bound guys, Ryan & Abbie, the super-fit jocks running through the airport, we just took it in stride with our rollie-backpacks and went along with it, you know.
HitFix: Since you brought it up, why *did* you guys decide to do rollie backpacks?
Kelley: Why carry all that stuff around? You travel through the airports, you’re not running, you’re just moseying along. You travel down the street, why lug when you can just let it roll behind you? The only time we really had to carry it was when we were on the muddy streets of Bangladesh, or going through the fish market in Indonesia, but other than that it was pretty easy. Everybody else was crying and complaining that their backs hurt and their legs hurt, they were tired. Ours weren’t hurting.
HitFix: Fair enough. It’s just that if you look back through the show’s history, you’re looking at maybe only half-a-dozen teams that have made that choice. But you guys felt good about that as a decision?
Kelley: Oh, absolutely. Josh, of Josh & Brent, Josh has got a rollie-bag. You just don’t happen to see it on the video, but he has one too.
HitFix: Going back to something you mentioned earlier, Kelley, about some of the choices you made being out of spite to avoid going with the group, what were some of the advantages and, clearly, the disadvantages of deciding to be lone wolves out there?
Kelley: I think the disadvantage was that some of our transportation moves didn’t work out and had we stuck together, we clearly could out-work the other teams when it came to the tasks. So had we followed along or tailed along together, when we got to a task, we definitely could have outdone them there. The advantage was that we just got to be together, make our own decisions and not have pressure of trying to keep up or follow somebody else to a decision that really didn’t sit well with us.
Rob: And we got a lot of alone time and I tell you what, in our life, sometimes she’s going one way rodeoing and I’m going the other way monster trucking, so any time we can have good quality alone time — like in the airport in Hong Kong for three hours — it was fabulous.
HitFix: Did you guys have no desire to bond with the other teams? Or did you just do it during down-time?
Kelley: We got along great with the other teams. We fed the other teams our candy and our snack bars. We got along fine, but we like to do things together. Everything we do in our life we do together. We don’t really look for outside people to help us out or to make our decisions, so we were just comfortable just doing it outselves.
HitFix: Going back to Sunday’s episode: How close were things at the sherbet Roadblock in Istanbul with the Beekmans and the Chippendales?
Kelley: I think things were pretty close.
Rob: 10 minutes.
Kelley: They weren’t that far ahead of us. It was just a matter of us getting to our taxi and them getting to theirs. They came out the back door and their taxi went down a side street, which probably was a lot quicker. We went out a different door and our taxi had to go all around a city block to get out and down to the waterfront. They definitely took a good route.
HitFix: There were a couple things in the Leg that seemed like they could have hurt other teams, but ultimately didn’t. Would you have liked to have seen the Beekmans get more of a Speed-Bump than eating an ice cream cone?
Kelley: Yeah, that was a little weird, huh? In fact, we saw that booth and we thought we were going to get an ice cream cone. We went up to the booth and… Yeah. That was not a very hard task, but that’s the way it went.
HitFix: And along the same lines, had you had any sort of awareness of the two teams that took Mark & Abba’s money?
Kelley: No. Absolutely not. We didn’t know anything about it until we saw the show last night and we like, “Oh my God.”
Rob: But I can tell you that we sure hope that neither one of those teams win.
HitFix: Would you guys have expected there to be a penalty of some sort in that circumstance?
Kelley: I would have thought so. I would have thought something would have happened. You know, it just wasn’t right. We’re all on the thing and you’re all working together and you’re not supposed to take somebody else’s stuff.
Rob: If they wouldn’t have known whose money it was, I would think, “Hey, you know what? They found the money on the floor.” If James and Abba would not have been there with their bags laying right there next to the money? They should have at least said, “Hey guys, is this your money? You dropped your money.”
Kelly. Yeah. “Tell me how much is here and I’ll give it back,” or something.
Rob: They blatantly took the money knowing. In the conversation, they said that they wished it was Abbie & Ryan’s money rather than the Rockers’ money. So at that point, they should have been eliminated. When they showed up at the mat, Phil should have told them… Hey, Phil didn’t have any problem when the boat brought me and Kelley to the Pit Stop after we asked to go to the right place. Phil didn’t have any problem telling us that we had to go back. And at the beginning of the Race, they sat us all down and said, “You cannot take anything from another team. Period.” So we were all good with getting eliminated, but when we saw that last night, it pretty much upset us, because we felt that they didn’t get what was due them.
HitFix: There are a lot of people who agree with you, trust me. Anyway, as a last question, give me your favorite thing from this Race experience that we didn’t get to see on TV.
Rob: I would say opening my eyes to the Beekman Boys and their relationship and I learned, personally, not to judge people by their sexual preferences or any of those things, because it’s not my place to judge people. Josh and Brent are very good friends of ours now and I was totally exposed to something that I’d never been exposed to in my whole life and it’s opened my mind to say, “Don’t judge people, because it’s not always what you see on the outside. It’s who they are internally that means something anyway.”
Kelley: I would have to say that. I accepted people all the time, so this was always kinda an issue between Rob and I, him being derogatory or making rude comments or something about other people. It just made us a lot better couple, that he understands it’s not our position in life to judge other people. Just accept people for who they are and you can love them and be friends with them and it’s all good.