Looking around Las Vegas’ Friendly Ford dealership, I almost felt sorry for the scores of people who had arrived to audition for “The Amazing Race.”
Certainly all these people knew that my colleague and I would be the needle in the haystack the production company was seeking while prospecting for people to participate in the television show that has done for travel and tourism what “Jeopardy” did for trivia.
My friend and I were No. 173. Like other couples, we got one minute of video face time to plead our case as to why we should be selected as one of the dozen or so teams who will race around the world for a $1 million prize.
Based on the pace of the interviews and the lines that had formed, I figured there were more than 200 teams auditioning at the session last month. Two people behind us drove from Southern California because they said the competition was tougher there.
Over the years, “The Amazing Race” has run on all but one continent in tourism destinations worldwide. A few years ago, the final leg of the race was in Las Vegas.
Would we be lucky enough to run a final leg in a city with which we’re familiar?
The show’s primary sponsors are Travelocity and Ford, which provides vehicles for some legs of the race. That’s why the auditions, taped by a crew from the local CBS television affiliate, were done at the dealership.
Fans already have begun to suffer withdrawal effects after the show’s 22nd season ended this month. Professional hockey players Bates and Anthony Battaglia smoked the competition in Washington, D.C., during the final leg of the race and coasted to an easy victory, thanks to superior athletic conditioning and a lot of luck.
Having traveled together internationally, my friend and I would have a good lay of the land wherever host Phil Keoghan pointed us. We know planes, trains and automobiles and, yes, we can drive a stick shift — an obstacle that has flummoxed some contestants.
Between the two of us, we are musically savvy, can eat just about anything, have few phobias and have no problem hitting up passers-by for help and advice, all of which come in handy on the show. But there’s no substitute for good luck.
Many competitors get stuck with taxi drivers who don’t know where they’re going but think they do. Others have difficulty assessing how much time challenges will take.
That’s where playing smart comes in. And that’s the point we sold in our audition.
Lots of friends wished us luck. One Facebook buddy told me he couldn’t wait to see me skydiving in Bora Bora, one of the challenges participants completed last season.
The ball is in your court, CBS.