The Amazing Race: The Yak Chats with 2nd Place Winners Art and JJ!

The Yak got the chance to chat with Art Velez and JJ Carrell, the second place team after 12 legs of The Amazing Race! Congratulations on how far you made it. Keep reading to see what they had to say!


The Yak: Would you run the race again?

JJ: Absolutely! If Bertan and Elise called us right now we would pack our backpacks and go. Right Art?
Art: Yeah but we need to get more leave saved up in our bank!

The Yak: What was your favorite challenge?

Art: I think JJ’s was Bollywood and mine the Hawaiian sled [deep laughter]

The Yak: How many attempts did it take you to get down on the sled?

JJ: We were trying to figure that out it was between 40-50.

The Yak: That was a little sled, the girls definitely had an advantage for their smaller center of gravity. What was that about a 1 x 6?

Art: Yes and a big guy like me didn’t fit to well between two toothpicks. It was about 8 inches wide by 10 feet long.
JJ: But when we saw Dave and Rachel we were like wow we are still in it. The Hawaiian warrior lady that was down by me turns to me and says Hawaiian women warriors always really dominate in this. I was like you’ve got to be kidding me and then the second time there she goes and slides right down. She said the sleds are made for women and if you go online and watch the Hawaiian sledders, all the men just eat it constantly. But Art did good he finished it when he could have just quit.

The Yak: You get kudos for your persistence.


The Yak: What was your favorite city or country to visit?

Art: I think it was Japan and Bavaria but Japan was pretty awesome. The water, the people, were just really beautiful.
JJ: I think Bavaria, it was Christmas time and it was snowing and Germany is so beautifully pristine and clean and orderly. But of all the places that we went and there were some spectacular places but the greatest place was Hawaii, it was absolutely breathtakingly spectacular. I thought that was interesting that we travel almost 40,000 miles and end up back in the United States and I consider it the most beautiful place I have ever seen.

The Yak: You must have really jammed getting up and down the building in Japan?

Art: When we got to the building… when I was doing the Japanese game show I ended up hurting my foot. I jammed it and had like turf toe so it hurt really bad. When we get up to the building I was already walking with a noticeable limp so it took us a while to find the clue there because we went up to the top and thought we were going to have to look out into the city but eventually we found it on the computer monitors. But we got there pretty quick.

The Yak: The towers was one challenge that the men seemed to have an advantage over the women?

JJ: I am not real good with heights so it was horrific for me but Art did it with his 4 star training in war patrol and so he loved it and was joking thinking it was a good time and I thought I was going to die at any moment.
Art: When we got up to the top of the building the wind started blowing pretty good so you were getting whipped around pretty good up there.
JJ: The Amazing Race it’s such an understatement to say it’s amazing. They challenged us from things we felt comfortable with to things that were so out of our wheel house, so out of our comfort zone but it was always exciting and felt like an incredible competition. Art and I always felt this and I hope you can portray… it is just the Amazing Race production itself, the people, is a first class run organization. We never felt like a piece of meat or the dancing monkey. We always felt like we were really important to them and our well-being and our needs were taken care of, there is nothing I can say that could really articulate what a great organization they are and the behind the scenes and everything they do is just first class. Wouldn’t you agree Art?
Art: Absolutely!
JJ: It was an incredible experience and we would have loved to have won. We are very competitive and it still stings us to this day but to be able to run the whole race and experience from the application process all the way to seeing Phil tell us the world is waiting… and to run onto the red carpet with him at the end it is pretty special. I know there have been 20 seasons and 200+ teams and I know 190 something of them would have killed to be in the spot Art and I were. I think as time goes on we will appreciate it more deeply and have fonder memories than we have now just because of the sting of being so close.

The Yak: Now post show have you resolved your differences with Rachel and Dave?

JJ: I have had a couple emails with Rachel just concerning the get together but it is just too far gone. Don’t you think Art?
Art: Yeah it was a strategy we had come up with a long time ago and it was something it was decided between that we going to do, so when someone doesn’t follow through on what they say they will do it is just upsetting because we had a certain plan in place but it worked out and it is what it is.
JJ: I don’t foresee any get together soon. Do you agree Art?
Art: Yeah.

The Yak: They had a little different take on that.

JJ: There is a lot of back story on that that you can’t show on tv. We supposedly had an agreement between me, Art and Dave during a kumbaya moment. This was a strategy that Dave concocted that we agreed several legs prior and it was kind of a security agreement between Vanessa/Ralph, Dave/Rachel and Art/I because we knew that we would get u-turned if one of the teams were ahead of us because Dave/Rachel and Art/I were doing so well and we knew that Big Brother hated Vanessa. So we kind of knew they were going to u-turn so it was kind of security to help if any of us 3 got way back in the pack somehow and that right at 5:30 in the morning before we left Dave and I had a “is it still on, yeah it’s still on, so okay I’ll do it man you got my word” …there are no hard feelings I just don’t… it is what it is, right Art? I think they deserved to win. They overcame a colossal mistake and still won the race, they deserve all the credit and the right to claim winner of The Amazing Race.
Art: Absolutely! Rachel was a rock star. She killed a lot of those challenges like when I watched her do the game show thing she was jumping and still running and keeping her balance. I was like you got to be kidding me because there is no way I was going to jump and stay on my feet. I was jumping falling and rolling and so was everyone else. She had athleticism and the stuff she was doing, I was impressed! She is a special gal that one!
JJ: Yeah pound for pound she was the toughest competitor on that 20th season.

The Yak: On the 11th leg the first place prize was a trip for 2 to New Zealand and both of you had expressed in your pre-show interviews that was a place you would like to visit. How bummed were you about that?

Art: As soon as we saw that Sunday night I was like oh man you have got to be kidding me!
JJ: Yeah so we didn’t know, we didn’t talk to Dave and them afterward. It was a quick turn around for the next flight so when we saw that on tv Sunday I turned to Art and I was like your kidding me! That was the only place I really, really desired to go and haven’t been. We were close man, that was ours too it seemed to be, we took the wrong challenge a couple of times there right Art?
Art: Undoubtedly.
JJ: Ultimately we just wanted to be in the final 3 because that was the only one that matters. Our strategy worked the whole time except the second leg in India where we came in fourth. We really believed we should be in the top 3 every leg and we believe we could win every leg but being in the top 3 put us in a position to win it and garsh dang if we weren’t in a position to win it for about an hour but it just didn’t happen. I guess that is the beauty and the difficulty of life sometimes, life is exuberant and awesome and sometimes it is rough and that builds character in your life.

The Yak: Has being on The Amazing Race made it more difficult to do your job?

Art: No for the most part the things that we do are in the hour of darkness, when we are out doing the work we do, it is not out in the public and as border patrol we are in places people wouldn’t go anyway. If anything it has made things a little more lively with our crew and not more difficult except when we go to meetings and people want to take pictures.


The Yak: Bopper had shared with us that he was not going to hold you guys to sharing the money from your first place leg. What is your take on that?

JJ: That is his money, that was our agreement, right Art? That’s what we decided. The back story is that I was on that 18 hour bus ride to Buenos Aires and I was talking to Bopper about his daughter. The next night Art and I talked about it and everything he has gone thru and if we get fortunate enough to win a money leg why don’t we split it with Bopper. Art said that was an awesome idea, let’s do it, so we had made that decision prior to the leg and when we finally got first in Italy it was in the morning and we had no idea where Bopper and Mark were. This was something we decided no strings attached. You can say many things about Art and I but our word is solid and that money is Bopper’s to take her on vacation or get her out of there for a while, but whatever he does, it is his money.

The Yak: That is very generous of you. Is there anything you would like to share with the readers?

Art: It is the fact that people enjoy the race, it is everything that you see and so much more that goes on in it and people need to realize it is tv and when you have strong people on competing that is the way it is it is… a competition for a million dollars. It is a way to change your life and to not know the things that go on with the sleep deprivation and the travel and the no food and no water, it wears on a person’s body, wears on a person’s soul, it wears on their mind, so the things that happen there is pretty much because people are at the end of the rope and it is fun and that is what makes it The Amazing Race.
JJ: The only thing I have to say is The Amazing Race crew, cameramen, sound guys and all the people behind the scenes are a first-class operation.


A big shout out and thanks to Art and JJ for taking the time to chat with us and congrats on the 2nd place win!

What do you think? Leave us a comment below, then come on in to the FORUM to discuss The Amazing Race and all of your favorite Reality Shows!

Thank you for chatting with Yakkity Yaks!

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