The Amazing Race: The Yak Chats with Rob and Kelley

Rob French & Kelley Carrington-French

With last week’s Amazing Race giving us (and The Fabulous Beekman Boys) a non-elimination leg reprieve, the sixth leg pushed things into overdrive with a race from Dhaka, Bangladesh to Istanbul (not Constantinople!), Turkey. Although the leg was rife with drama (lost money! shared guilt! still not Constantinople!), the Monster Truckers, Rob French and Kelley Carrington-French, found themselves as the last team to the Pit Stop and out of the race for the one million dollar prize. The team recently sat down with Yakkity Yaks to discuss their thoughts on their travels, the sights and the shady ladies known as the Sri Lankan twins.


The Yak: Throughout the race, it really seemed like your travel choices were affecting your ability to move toward the front of the pack. What drove your decision to make the choices you did, such as the longer layover in Hong Kong and the metro line in Istanbul?
Kelley: We’re not followers. We don’t like to follow what the other people do. We definitely like to make our own choices and decisions. The first choice, when we decided to take the plane to Hong Kong, was we were just thinking that Hong Kong has such a huge airport that surely there’d be a lot more choices once we got there, so we could get there, do some research and find other choices. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. For the metro, we had asked around while we were on the airplane and then once we got in the airport what would be the best way for transportation. The people that lived there said the city streets were so busy and so clogged in the morning that the metro would be the best choice. Unfortunately, that day, the city was not very busy.

The Yak: Along the same lines regarding your choices, it’s been talked about that you were well known for your decision to ditch the backpacks and go with a rolling bag. What was the reason behind that? Did you find that it helped or hindered your race at all?
Kelley: It definitely didn’t hinder us at all. You can only go so fast. You all have to go through the airports, and there’s only so much time to get from point A to point B, then you all have to wait in line once you get there. You’re going down a city street or you’re doing a task, so you’re not carrying it. It definitely didn’t hurt us at all. They could go just as fast as we could go. They also were backpacks that could hang on our backs. The advantage was not having to carry that stuff around 24/7. When you’re in the airport and hanging around there for 10 hours, you don’t have to carry 40 or 50 pounds around with you. We just rolled them around, so they didn’t hurt us at all.

The Yak: Let’s get candid for a moment – which of the teams did you find the most annoying to compete against?
Rob: (in a high-pitched voice) “Twinney! Twinney!”
Kelley:  (laughs) Well, they were loud and they just talked constantly.
Rob: Also, Ryan and Abbie!
Kelley: Yeah, Ryan was a bit on the hyper side. Everybody else was pretty much laid back.

The Yak: Who did you get along with the best out of all the teams?
Kelley:  We got along with the Beekman Boys really well. We got along with James and Abba. We really didn’t have any conflicts with anybody. When we had down time, it didn’t matter who we were with, if we were at the airport or wherever we were waiting, we got along with everybody.

The Yak: Unlike most of the couples on the race, both during this season and in previous seasons, you did seem to bicker at all. How were you able to communicate so well during the very stressful moments of the race?
Kelley: We work together every day and our jobs are very stressful, so we’re use to working together under stress. We kind of know each other’s personalities, and we know  when to shut up or when to say something, so for me, it was just a regular day at work. It was easy to get along and go through the motion of getting the job done.
Rob: I felt that the race wasn’t nearly as stressful as our everyday life with our businesses. We own multiple businesses, and me and Kelley are together 24/7, so it was just another day at the office without all the stress.

The Yak: Since the race wasn’t as difficult as your work lives, what did you find was the hardest challenge that you faced?
Kelley: For me, the physically hardest challenge was building that scale. The heat of the day was tremendous and I had a long-sleeved, thermal shirt on, so I was sweating twice as much. We didn’t have any fluids at first to drink, and everything was tall, so I had to keep moving 50 pounds of stuff, stacking them one on top of the other to get to the top of my scale. It just took a toll on me.
Rob: I didn’t have any hard challenges. My only challenge that was hard was standing there having to watch Kelley work so hard and not being able to help her.

Rob & Kelley in Dhaka
Rob & Kelley in Dhaka

The Yak: What was your favorite part of the race?
Rob: I think carrying the bamboo was my most favorite part. Other than every time I went to the mat, I would be so excited that Phil would back up about 3 feet because he was afraid I was going to eat him.
Kelley: I enjoyed pretty much the whole thing. The exciting part was stepping off the bridge [during the first task of the race in Pasadena, California]. It was something I had never done in my life, and it definitely would have been something I never would have chose to do, saying, “Oh, let’s go rappel off a bridge!” That was really fun and exciting!

The Yak: Did you do anything special to prepare for the race after you found out you had been selected?
Kelley: Not really. We were still living our lives. Rob was doing the monster truck shows and I was still rodeoing, so we just kind of pulled it together the last week, packed our stuff, and went to California.

The Yak: Have you kept in touch with any of the other teams since the race ended?
Rob: I just spoke with Josh this morning. I talk to Abba at least once a week. We talk to Will from “David and Goliath.” Those were the teams that we really communicated with. Abbie – she sends me Facebook messages all the time, but with Ryan, we don’t really communicate with him because he’s a different kind of guy.
Kelley: Plus, the others are pretty much in a whole another generation.
Rob: With the twins [Natalie and Nadiya] and the Texans [Trey and Lexi], now that I saw the last show, I don’t care to ever communicate with them.
Kelley: Yeah, it was a bit of a shocker.

The Yak: It seemed to have really polarized people one way or the other about those two teams.
Rob: The bottom line is that there is no place in my life for thieves. I just felt like that was the wrong move.

The Yak: Looking at your own moves, would you have changed anything about the way you ran the race?
Rob: I would have changed anything.
Kelley: Not really. Perhaps, the hindsight of seeing that there was such a delay in our arrival at the last place from taking the metro. Aside from that, I would play the game the same. We depend on each other to make our own decisions. We thought we did great on every task that we had to accomplish, so we wouldn’t change things.

The Yak: Speaking of the tasks, in looking at the detours from the last leg, what made you decide to go with the delivery task versus the bath?
Rob: We didn’t have any money.
Kelley: Well, our money supply was low because the taxi charged us so much money in the last country, and then in this country, he said it was going to be “x” amount of dollars to take us where we had to go and then he charged us double. So, when we got there and read the clue, we saw you had to buy your own bath supplies or you could go deliver the bread. We figured if we buy the bath supplies, we don’t know how much they are and if we have to take another taxi or train, we won’t have the money, so we went ahead with the manual labor.

The Yak: What’s next for Rob and Kelley?
Kelley: We’re just living life. Rob just went to Guatemala and Nicaragua with the monster truck. We’re getting ready to go to Argentina in December with the monster truck. I just got back from our PRCA circuit final rodeo down in Davie, Florida, this past weekend, and I’m off to another rodeo in Texas this weekend.
Rob: Hopefully, Hollywood calls us and we become big superstars. (laughs)
Kelley: No, not me! (laughs)

The Yak: We’ll make sure to pass your name around to our big-shot friends in Hollywood!
Rob: Thanks, buddy!

The Yak: Thank you so much for your time! We really enjoyed watching you on the show, and we were sorry to see you go.
Kelley: Thank you!
Rob: Thank you so much!