JJ and Art
When Rachel and Dave accidentally skipped the Roadblock on The Amazing Race finale, first place seemed to be for the taking for Art Velez and JJ Carrell. The border patrol agents were already at the Hawaiian sledding and stone-tossing Roadblock and if Art could complete it, the finish line was next. Instead, they watched helplessly as Dave and Rachel arrived, finished the Roadblock and went on their $1 million-winning way. "Rachel asked me how long I had been there and I said about an hour," Art tells TVGuide.com. "She was like, 'Wow!' and then she completes it on her second try! I'm like, 'Are you kidding me?!'" Adding insult to injury: They lost to their mortal enemies, who backed out on their deal to U-Turn Brendon and Rachel. Get their take on the drama, their confrontation with Nary and Jamie and more.
Amazing Race's Rachel and Dave: It was a relief to win after our mistake
Do you know how far behind Dave and Rachel you were?
Art: We figured we were 20 to 30 minutes behind. ... I was [sledding] for about an hour and a half and I think I did it from anywhere between 40 to 50 times.
Do you have scars?
Art: Oh, yeah!
JJ: We're emotionally scarred!
Art: He was emotionally scarred before this whole thing started! [Laughs]
You thought you were in second until they showed up. Was it hard to focus afterward knowing you could've won by then? Or did that motivate you?
Art: When Rachel and Dave showed up, I was like, "Whoa! What's going on here? This is weird." But I was just concentrated on getting it done. I actually didn't get defeated or deflated until Rachel completed it on the second try. Once she did it, I was like, "Holy crap! That was awesome." That was really cool because that thing was whipping my butt. ... It was about being really skinny on two little sticks and just holding on for the ride!
JJ, you kept motivating Art, but was it hard for you to keep your cool after they finished?
JJ: I was hurt for Art because he was trying so hard and it just wasn't his day. It shows you how incredible this Race is that we thought we were in second and we were actually in first for over an hour. To see Dave and Rachel, I was like, "Oh my God! We're in this! This is ours!" Then it started to sink in: "God, we've been first for an hour. We just have to make one sled ride down that hill and we would've won." My heart broke for him because he tried so, so hard. ... It almost would've been better if we had just stayed with our first cab driver and drove around Honolulu for a day and a half. I mean, first was there. And it just didn't happen and that's the way it goes. ... We really, really believed that was our Race to lose. But to be able to go the whole Race, do every leg and to actually finish is an incredible accomplishment. I know the other teams cheering for us would've killed to trade places with us, as well the hundreds of Racers in prior seasons. We take pride in the fact that we ran the Race very hard, and our border patrol brothers and sisters are really proud of us, and that means a great deal to us.
So the U-Turn deal — were you really that offended that Dave and Rachel didn't U-Turn Big Brother? Why couldn't you just drop it and move on?
JJ: The whole backstory to that was we were winning so much with Dave and Rachel that we came together with a plan with Ralph and Vanessa — because Big Brother hated them — to protect us. So in the event that one of us was way, way back, the other two teams would U-Turn or Double U-Turn someone. It was just a security for us. That morning at 5:30, Dave, Rachel and I were eating breakfast — Art wasn't there — and I said, "We're still on?" And he said, "We're still on." Five hours later, Dave and Rachel decide not to honor that agreement. It was really close — Ralph and Vanessa almost lost. I know it looks on the outside like, "Oh, they shouldn't be that upset." But it was much deeper than that. If Dave and Rachel were in the back of the pack that day, they dang well would've expected Ralph and Vanessa, and Art and I to follow our word, which we all would've. And you saw in the episode — we thought that Dave and Rachel fell behind for some reason.
Amazing Race's Mark and Bopper: Our friendship is deeper than any situation
Their logic was that there was no reason to use it because Nary and Jamie were so far behind.
JJ: It didn't matter where Nary and Jamie were. Our main goal was to protect the teams that we wanted to go forward, which were Dave and Rachel, us, Ralph and Vanessa, and Mark and Bopper. Once we get to the final four, all bets are off. So it didn't matter how far back they were. With the Double U-Turn, the strategy is to block other people from using it as opposed to saying, "Oh, this team is already far back." If Dave and Rachel, and Art and I used those two slots, then Ralph and Vanessa wouldn't have been U-Turned by Big Brother. ... I know why they didn't do it. I understand, but your word's your word. But that's part of the game. You live in a bubble. Part of your personality does come out, but it is a game and you have to be good at it to win it. I give them all the credit in the world. They won eight legs and overcame a horrible mistake and they won it, so kudos to them.
And you chose not to talk to them the rest of the Race?
JJ: Nope, we didn't say a word.
Art: I would say hi. Some of the stuff that Rachel would do on the challenges was cool to watch. I was like, "This girl's really got her stuff together" and I admire that. I know they're another team, but I was still cordial. I would say "what's up" or whatever. We didn't talk strategy or anything.
Is it all water under the bridge now?
Art: I don't know if it could ever be water under the bridge. They're competitors. We lost $1 million. Am I happy I lost it? No. Do I need to be friends with the people who beat me? No. We'll be cordial, but I've never been to Wisconsin and I don't plan on going there. If they plan to come to California and want to give us a call, yeah, we'll love to get together with them. I'm not making any special trips to Madison.
Amazing Race's Nary and Jamie: Art and JJ are jerks
You guys have been pretty divisive. A lot of fans find you arrogant, and Nary and Jamie called you jerks for confronting them about their jobs. I talked to Phil and he said you, JJ, had gotten very high-strung. What do you have to say about that?
Art: People think we act like jerks — whatever. We don't care. The people that know us — our friends, our agency —are the people who matter. They know who we are. We're men of integrity, we're Christian men, we're men of our word. The thing with Nary and Jamie — we deal with people who lie to our faces every day. My wife, my aunt, my grandma — my whole family are educators. When educators get together, they talk about kids, parents, administrators and other teachers. So when they didn't talk about things that educators do and they started using cop talk — I don't care what anybody says, cops talk a certain way and they use certain lingo — I'm like, "These chicks are cops." It was just fun finding out somebody's lying to us like people do to us every day. That was it. They thought we were obsessed with their jobs. We couldn't care less what they did. It was about, "Look, we know you're lying, so why don't you admit it?" And they wouldn't. But they were never a threat to us. We never had the time to talk to them because they were always going off doing something on their own. It was like, "Whatever."
JJ: Why do you think people think we're arrogant?
You were always declaring that you were the best and the ones to beat, you complained about a lot of teams, and the whole U-Turn thing obviously. I think people liked you at first, especially after you gave the money to Bopper and Mark, but you were at the very least edited to be arrogant the back half of the season.
JJ: Our mindset going into it was, "We're going to win." ... I'm an avid fan of the Race and anyone's who's watched it knows there are two groups: the teams that expect to win and a whole other group that's like, "Dear God! We're so happy we're still in it." Art and I are confident, ambitious men. If people think that's a bad trait, then that's what they think. We are never going to apologize for that behavior or that characteristic. Maybe we can apologize for Art being harsh and rude sometimes. I got grouped in there just by association with Arturo and somehow I became the bad guy and Art was this jolly, Fred Flintstone type of guy! [Laughs] Jokes aside, I would never teach my son to be happy and complacent with third place. Yeah, only one person or team can win, but you should never just shoot for second or third. Shoot for first.
What are you up to now?
Art: Just back at work.
JJ: We're sitting by the phone waiting for [creators] Bertram [van Munster] and Elise [Doganieri] to give us a call for All-Stars. [Laughs]
I think Bopper and Mark will get the nod first.
JJ: Oh, come on, now!
They can have two slots for Season 20 teams.
JJ: Yes, they can! Bopper and Mark, and us!