TAKING THE CHAMP OUT
After coming in first place, a stunned Amani & Marcus took their next clue from Phil as the race continued. Opening it, the married couple discovered they had to drive to the Ford Proving Ground in Lommel, Belgium. Jumping into their car, Marcus said, "Being at the front of the pack you have to work twice as hard. Everybody wants to take the champ out.”
Almost instantly, Amani & Marcus felt their lead disappearing as a second place Ernie & Cindy and third place Jeremy & Sandy both passed through the Pit Stop at Parc Elisabeth. Amani & Marcus stopped to get directions at a local store using a computer for help, but with no printer available, the married couple spent extra time writing the directions by hand instead of printing a map. Then, after driving around with their handwritten directions, the still lost Amani & Marcus stopped at a gas station hoping someone else could help them.
Meanwhile, on stage in front of bodybuilding judges, Andy & Tommy flexed their muscles once again. Unlike their previous attempts, this time the professional snowboarders wowed the judges and the audience alike. One judge commented, "The presentation was a lot better than the first time and the choreography was there, so well done.” Receiving a passing score of 12 points, Andy & Tommy headed to Parc Elisabeth in fourth place.
In last place, Bill & Cathi returned to the stage for an encore performance of their bodybuilding routine and, like Andy & Tommy, showed vast improvement over their initial attempts. A judge told the grandparents, "The choreography for me was very good.” Receiving a score of 12, Bill & Cathi made their way to Parc Elisabeth where they expected to receive bad news from Phil. When Phil presented the shocked grandparents with their next clue, Cathi exclaimed, "Hot diggity!” She added in the car, "We’re gonna have to put a little pedal to the metal…as safely and legally as we can today.”
PLAYING WITH PONIES
Arriving at the Ford Proving Ground in first place, engaged couple Ernie & Cindy ripped open their clue to find a Roadblock. In it, one team member had to get behind the wheel of an American icon, the Ford Mustang. Once teams suited up, they would put the latest Mustang through a series of performance maneuvers. First, teams had to reach a speed of 100 miles per hour then brake hard in a designated spot. Next, teams had to navigate a slalom course in 16 seconds or less. Finally, a double victory donut would complete the task.
After donning a driving suit and helmet, Ernie jumped into the passenger seat of a Ford Mustang, allowing a professional driver to take him out to the course. The professional did his very best to familiarize Ernie with the power and speed of the car by taking every curve as fast as he could. Ernie later commented, "I thought he was going to take my life. This guy was fishtailing on every corner. It was insane.”
Reaching the course on the Proving Ground, Ernie now assumed control of the Ford Mustang as the instructor explained that Ernie first needed to reach a speed of 100 miles per hour and then brake as hard as possible through a flagged path until he stopped the car. On the instructor’s signal, Ernie floored the gas and the Mustang thundered down the track until reaching a green flag. Once Ernie passed the flag, he hit the brake as the Mustang now screeched through the course marked by cones until reaching a stop at the very end of the course. Ernie’s very serious instructor simply told his pupil, "Very good.”
Moving onto the second task, Ernie now had to weave through a slalom course of cones in under 16 seconds and then stop the car in a small rectangle without hitting the inflatable barrier just beyond it. After revving the engine, Ernie hit the gas a little too aggressively, having to slow down so he did not hit any cones of the slalom course. Weaving wildly between the cones, Ernie reached the end of the course and stopped the car safely in the marked rectangle but he failed to do it under the required 16 seconds.
As Jeremy suited up and rode out onto the Proving Ground, Ernie continued to attack the slalom course with increasingly unsuccessful results. Over the span of 15 attempts, Ernie kept hitting the inflatable barrier when stopping the Mustang and, on one attempt, knocked over a cone. Ernie later commented, "I’m not a big car guy. It was pretty upsetting. Jeremy was right on my tail.”
Once Jeremy completed braking his Mustang after reaching speeds of 100 miles per hour, he took his place in line behind the frustrated Ernie at the slalom course. Now the two racers would alternate turns on the course until both successfully completed it. On Jeremy’s first try he hit the inflatable barrier, giving Ernie another chance to keep his lead. This time, Ernie hugged the curves as he wove through the slalom and eased up as he approached the painted rectangle, gently placing the Mustang inside the cones in 15.1 seconds. Then, in celebration, the very relieved Ernie burned rubber…literally…as he circled the white Mustang around in a series of donuts, screeching his tires and sending smoke into the air. Returning to Cindy, Ernie opened the next clue, instructing the engaged couple to drive to the city of Gent and find the Hoofdbrug. Exiting the Proving Ground as Jeremy completed his victory donuts, Ernie told Cindy, "I’ve never been so scared for my life.”
A JEALOUS HEART
Arriving at the Proving Ground in fourth place, just behind Amani & Marcus, professional snowboarders Andy & Tommy had a big decision to make when they saw the Mustangs. Ultimately, Andy conceded, letting Tommy get behind the wheel of the Mustang, but admitted, "I’m very jealous right now…because I have a passion for driving.” Andy went on to explain that because of Tommy’s difficulties with the poem recital in the previous leg, Tommy wanted Andy take any remaining Roadblocks requiring mental abilities. The worst torture for Andy came when a pumped up Tommy returned from the Proving Ground and wanted to tell Andy all about his adventure on the track. Andy told Tommy to stop giving him details, later commenting, "I almost started bickering with Tommy because of sin that I had in my heart. I had to ask for forgiveness through Christ. Christ just took that from me and the burden was lifted after that.”
Reaching the Hoffdbrug in Gent in first place, engaged couple Ernie & Cindy ripped open their clue to find a Detour with the choice of Water or Waffles. Water required teams to use assorted materials, build a floatable raft, and search the waterways for two pieces of a clue that would reveal their next destination. Waffle required teams to assemble a waffle stand. Then, working together, they had to bake and decorate 18 perfectly formed waffles to the chef’s satisfaction.
Having not performed well in previous water tasks, Ernie & Cindy quickly agreed to make waffles. After setting up the stand by placing four wood poles in each corner and lifting the roof overhead, the engaged couple took notes of each different waffle at the completed example stand. Returning to their own booth, Ernie & Cindy began mixing the batter and pouring it into the heated waffle irons to start the delicious Belgian treats.
As Jeremy & Sandy joined Ernie & Cindy in waffle making, Amani & Marcus decided to build a raft with Andy & Tommy following close behind. Faced with a handful of narrow wooden poles, four large barrels, and plenty of rope, the two teams had to figure out the best way to make a raft that would keep them afloat in the water. While Amani & Marcus hesitated, taking a moment to consider their architectural plan, Andy & Tommy dove right now, later saying, "We just put the longest logs out to the side and then we used the short ones to brace it.” Once the snowboarders constructed their log platform, they attached it on top of four barrels and crossed their fingers that it would stay afloat. Marcus joked, "You guys are gonna get creamed! Don’t fall in. That would break my heart.”
While Ernie & Cindy continued to cook and decorate waffles, Andy & Tommy set sail on the inaugural voyage of their raft after carefully dropping in into the water. Using paddles to maneuver their remarkably sturdy raft through the waterways, the professional snowboarders gleefully enjoyed their ride, reaching the first half of their clue with no worries of sinking or getting wet. Tommy exclaimed, "I think I need to make one of these when I go home.”
With Andy & Tommy paddling towards the second half of their clue, Ernie & Cindy asked the chef to review their waffle stand for approval. When the chef denied them, the engaged couple scrambled to figure out what they did wrong. Finally, Cindy spotted a strawberry that fell off one waffle in the display case. After placing the strawberry back on top of the waffle, Ernie & Cindy received their next clue from the chef. Opening it, the engaged couple discovered they had to drive to De Muur Van Geraardsbergen.
Arriving at the Hoffdbrug in last place, grandparents Bill & Cathi initially planned on making waffles until they saw a struggling Jeremy & Sandy trying to figure out what they did wrong. Running to the water’s edge, the grandparents crossed paths with third place Amani & Marcus, who just returned to shore after retrieving both pieces of their clue. Marcus gave the appreciative grandparents some advice on how to build a sturdy raft, telling them, "Just snug the barrels. Then you’re good.”
While Bill & Cathi made progress on their raft, Jeremy & Sandy stared at their perfect looking display case of 18 waffles still unable identify the small mistake that prevented the chef from handing over the clue. Nearing the end of her rope (and sanity), Sandy asked Jeremy, "Do you want to switch challenges? I don’t know what to do. There’s nothing I see that’s different.” After looking through her notes, Sandy finally saw the mistake that eluded her and Jeremy for so long. The dating couple had two waffles in the wrong order and, after making the switch, they received their clue from the sympathetic chef, who told them, "I’m glad to see you finally found it.” Running back to their car, the dating couple spotted Bill & Cathi on the water about to retrieve the second half of the clue, prompting Sandy to say, "We got a lot of making up to do.”
Arriving at De Muur Van Geraardsbergen in first place, Ernie & Cindy ripped open their clue instructing them to work with a pigeon trainer to release hundreds of homing pigeons. Then, they had to race in their cars to meet up with the pigeons at a specific address to pick up their next clue, revealing the location of the Pit Stop.
Walking up to the large coop housing hundreds of pigeons, a timid Cindy asked, "Do I have to touch them?” Relived when the trainer said she did not, Cindy, along with Ernie, helped released the pigeons who darted from their cages and soared into the clear blue sky, flying to their destination. Once the pigeons flew off, the trainer handed Ernie & Cindy the specific address in the town of Beersel that the engaged couple needed to now find.
With first place in their grasp, Ernie & Cindy stumbled on their way to Beersel unable to find the city. After stopping for directions at a restaurant and learning they drove 30 minutes out of the way, Cindy said, "This is bad. Hoping we don’t come in last. Getting lost…definitely could’ve cost us first place.”
BACK ON TOP
Reaching their address in Beersel in first place, professional snowboarders Andy & Tommy ran over to the pigeons coop where a trainer took one out of its cozy home and told Andy to remove a tiny clue attached to the pigeon’s leg. Tearing open the Race’s smallest clue ever, the professional snowboarders found a picture inside. From this, they had to figure out the Pit Stop was at The Atomium, a model of the atomic structure of iron blown up 165 billion times.
Finding a group of local youths in Beersel who quickly identified The Atomium, professional snowboarders Andy & Tommy drove back to Brussels and found the massive shiny metal structure to claim their sixth victory. As the winners of the leg, Andy & Tommy were each awarded with a brand new Ford Mustang. Andy said, "It was a big blessing to win those Mustangs.”
END OF THE ROAD
With dating couple Jeremy & Sandy finishing the leg in second place, engaged couple Ernie & Cindy finally found their homing pigeon in Beersel and then found Phil at the Atomium to take third place. A disappointed Cindy said, "This is another leg where we were out in front and we just…we blew it.” Coming in behind Ernie & Cindy, married couple Amani & Marcus snagged fourth place advancing Team Pollard to the next leg. Marcus commented, "This next leg would be a conference championship. The plan is knock out the conference championship and it’s on to the Super Bowl.”
After valiant comebacks and proving that age is just a number, Bill & Cathi reached the end of their race under the Atomium in Brussels. Once Phil officially told the grandparents they had been eliminated, Cathi remarked, "One of the reasons that we really did want to do the race was because lots of times older Americans are just overlooked. We can make a contribution. We can be competitive and I think we were.” Bill added, "This was one more chance to be with my best friend and do some really, really special things in the world. And I would do it all over again, same person, same way.