Kept quiet about his time dancing and rappelling on CBS reality show Amazing Race
Albuquerque, New Mexico - For the past couple of Mondays, we've been sharing the story of Art Velez and his time on the CBS reality show Amazing Race. Art is a shooter for the U.S. Border Patrol pistol team. That means we can't help but bump into him every September during the National Police Shooting Championships. He took the opportunity to do something he couldn't do while the show aired ... talk.
"That was probably the most frustrating part," said Velez. "I was allowed to tell my wife and my son but that was it.
"Everybody in the family had to sign non-disclosure agreements. My parents, her parents, my sister. It was probably hardest for my son because he was a freshman in high school. The kids were always on him for the inside scoop."
The Love and Hate relationship for Amazing Race contestants
It's an age old story. Local boy puts out a bestselling book, stars in a movie or writes a hit song. Next thing you know he's thrust into the spotlight. They're never ready for the attention. Neither was Art.
"I never knew people followed this stuff so close," said Velez. "Some get really passionate about these shows."
Becoming a local celebrity meant the viewing parties that started in the family living rooms eventually graduated to a local restaurant. That's the only way they accommodate all the people. It also meant they'd be the subject of praise and ridicule on a variety of fronts.
"It was a love/hate thing. When we got back and the show hit the air, some people were blogging 'those guys are jerks and I hate them' while others said 'no, no they're great'. But we're use to that in our profession ... some people hate us, some people love us."
Rappelling results from the Amazing Race experience
"India was brutal."
As luck would have it, Art & J.J. (his partner on the show and on the job) arrived in India for Leg 9 of Amazing Race Season 20 during the hot season. While each and every contestant experienced the same conditions, it was tougher on some then others.
"We're a couple of big boys," said Velez. "We couldn't do anything to keep cool."
And keeping cool was just what was needed for the primary challenge — reproducing a Bollywood movie dance. Not exactly what you want to see from a couple of big boys in a hot, humid setting.
"We were spent. J.J. was stuck doing the dancing and it wasn't clicking. He had to do it again and again and again. We were sweating, there was all the noise and these odors ... it was a brutal mass of humanity."
Conditions significantly improved once they arrived in Hawaii. The lack of humidity made it much easier for the big boys to operate. Until they were tasked with rappelling a skyscraper that is.
"I worked with that rope system before so it wasn't that big a deal for me. But J.J. was hating it. He was turning all shades of green. Once I saw that, I made sure to stay above him just in case."
The two made it up and down the skyscraper in plenty of time. The same could not be said for the second to last challenge of that leg. The dreaded heʻe hōlua task (land sledding down a hill without falling over). Left to Art, the big boy fell one time too many. Enough to allow Rachel & Dave to pass them for the Season 20 win.
"We should have won it," said Velez. "There's always a chance for a comeback. CBS has had an 'unfinished business' show for Amazing Race before. They brought back teams that got close to winning the whole thing. If they do it again, well, hopefully they ask us to post."
We'll have more about Art's time on the Amazing Race over the next few weeks. Check back next Monday for another installment.
How Art made it onto Amazing Race.
Art talks about recovering from Amazing Race.