The Amazing Race 7: Tony Esparza
Annie Barrett
February 28, 2005 AT 12:00 PM EST

Meet the new cast of ”The Amazing Race”

When you tune into the seventh season of The Amazing Race, you already know what to expect: red-eye flights, bickering, miscommunications with locals, meltdowns, roadblocks, and close-ups of host Phil Keoghan’s face. Yet somehow familiarity doesn’t detract from one of TV’s most compelling series. The key factor is the teams: the various pairs of spouses, siblings, friends, and lovers who test their bond while circling the globe. Although CBS hasn’t provided us with a married-pro-wrestler couple this season, we will be meeting two lovable hillbillies, a pair of blond clones who swear they’re not identical twins, and five people with the last name Smith, as well as, for the first time, two celebrities, the millionaire engaged couple of Rob and Ambuh from Survivor: All-Stars. With so many duos competing at the start of The Plot to Annihilate Rob and Amber — whoops, we mean The Amazing Race 7 — here’s a handy guide to help you keep track of who’s who. It is here that you will find your next clue.

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Image credit: Brian and Greg: Tony Esparza


Brian and Greg

”The Amazing Race”: Meet Brian and Greg

Eliminated April 5, 2005

AGES Brian Smith (left), 27; Greg Smith, 24

HOMETOWN Santa Monica, Calif.


LOWDOWN Actor-bartender Brian and bouncer Greg, who were recruited for the show at a Dave Matthews concert, are ”so stoked” to join the race. They want to make friends and alliances early on — especially with the female contestants (in the premiere, the brothers even let one attractive pair cut ahead of them on the road). As an added bonus, their bright orange bandannas could stand in for those nerdy headlamps that contestants have to wear during nighttime scenes.

STRENGTHS Competitiveness, athleticism

WEAKNESSES They’ve never traveled abroad and fear ”big, scary airports in other countries.”

Image credit: Debbie and Bianca: Tony Esparza

Debbie and Bianca

”The Amazing Race 7”: Meet Debbie and Bianca

Eliminated March 15, 2005

AGES Debbie Cloyed (left), 25; Bianca Smith, 26

HOMETOWN Los Angeles; Woodbridge, Va.

RELATIONSHIP Lifelong friends

LOWDOWN The ”friends” can’t keep their hands or lips off each other and are among the worst offenders concerning the longstanding Race tradition of constantly calling each other ”baby.” Stop gawking, Brian and Greg — the well-traveled, urbane ladies say they’re just best friends. If the race’s challenges include giddy, huggy roller skating or the designing of cheap jewelry, these two are a shoo-in for the million bucks. As they say, ”It’s about damn time that a girl team wins.”

STRENGTHS They’re multilingual and say they ”have no fears.”

WEAKNESSES They get cranky without regular meals.

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Image credit: Lynn and Alex: Tony Esparza


Lynn and Alex

”The Amazing Race 7”: Meet Lynn and Alex

Eliminated April 19, 2005

AGES Lynn Warren (left), 30; Alex Ali, 22

HOMETOWN West Hollywood, Calif.


LOWDOWN Other teams dub them ”the Happy Boys” and ”Prancer and Dancer,” but these two aren’t afraid to dish it out themselves. Underneath their breezy exteriors, they have ”pretty sharp claws” to use — but only if necessary. ”I don’t want to break any nails!” said Lynn. They’ve already traveled together with Lynn’s parents, which he called ”a race all in its own.” The couple hope the show brings them to Amsterdam so they can get married, even though Alex hadn’t come out to his parents before the race.

STRENGTHS They spend time together ”24/7” at home.

WEAKNESSES Lynn doesn’t want to sleep ”on the streets, or in puddles.” Uh-oh.

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Image credit: Megan and Heidi: Tony Esparza


Megan and Heidi

”The Amazing Race 7”: Meet Megan and Heidi

Eliminated March 8, 2005

AGES Megan Baker (left), 26; Heidi Heidel, 31

HOMETOWN Oak Park, Calif.


LOWDOWN Don’t stereotype the duo that other contenders have dubbed ”the Hilton sisters”: Fashion designer Megan and stay-at-home mom Heidi both grew up poor and have helped each other through some rough times. Megan says they’re ”definitely more like sisters than friends.” Um, you think? The other teams and even a doctor had trouble grappling with the notion that they’re really not identical twins. Do we smell a revealing ”very special episode” midseason?

STRENGTHS Their Barbie looks might score them some friendly foreign aid.

WEAKNESSES Megan’s afraid of flying.

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Image credit: Meredith and Gretchen: Tony Esparza


Meredith and Gretchen

”The Amazing Race 7”: Meet Meredith and Gretchen

Eliminated May 3, 2005

AGES Meredith Smith (left), 69; Gretchen Smith, 66

HOMETOWN Easton, Md.


LOWDOWN Retired executive Meredith (who holds seven National Masters Swimming Championship titles) and former flight attendant and nurse Gretchen are exactly the same ages as last season’s ill-fated Don and Mary Jean, but according to Meredith, ”old age and treachery can outperform youth and inexperience.” But what about the need for speed? In the premiere, the seniors breathlessly opted for a taxi when faced with a mere five-block jog to the next clue.

STRENGTHS They’ve watched every episode of TAR.

WEAKNESSES They wonder aloud during a llama-roping challenge whether they’d be better off in their easy chairs.

Image credit: Ray and Deana: Tony Esparza

Ray and Deana

”The Amazing Race 7”: Meet Ray and Deana

Eliminated March 29, 2005

AGES Ray Housteau, 44; Deana Shane, 27

HOMETOWN Canfield, Ohio, and Youngstown, Ohio

RELATIONSHIP Dating on and off

LOWDOWN Deana calls them ”the All-American couple,” but after watching the premiere, one might call them ”Jonathan and Victoria.” ”It’s Ray’s way or the highway,” said Deana. Echoing last season’s villain couple, they say that ”whatever keeps us together is stronger than what tears us apart.” Awww. They should use that in their wedding vows!

STRENGTHS Can karate chop in unison

WEAKNESSES Might chop each other’s heads off

Image credit: Rob and Amber: Cliff Lipson

Rob and Amber

”The Amazing Race 7”: Meet Rob and Amber

Eliminated May 10, 2005

AGES Rob Mariano, 29; Amber Brkich, 26

HOMETOWN Canton, Mass., and Beaver, Pa.

RELATIONSHIP Engaged. As if you didn’t know.

LOWDOWN Funny how Amber’s even less interesting in the ugly tracksuit that’s replaced her usual tankini. It’s a good thing this isn’t another Survivor, because All-Stars runner-up Boston Rob and winner Boring Amber would be voted off immediately. In the premiere, the CBS darlings rely on help from a fan in Peru desperate for his 15 minutes, instead of attempting to collaborate with other teams. They better make friends fast, even though it would be sort of fun to watch them get sabotaged.

STRENGTHS They’re no strangers to ridiculous physical challenges.

WEAKNESSES They just, well, don’t seem very smart. Remind us again how they won Survivor.

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Image credit: Ron and Kelly: Tony Esparza


Ron and Kelly

”The Amazing Race 7”: Meet Ron and Kelly

Eliminated May 10, 2005

AGES Ron Young, 28; Kelly McCorkle, 26

HOMETOWN Villa Rica, Ga., and Greenville, S.C.

RELATIONSHIP Dating long distance

LOWDOWN The former Miss South Carolina’s mother set them up by asking Ron’s mother if he would be Kelly’s escort when she gave up her crown. Cute, but since when do pageant winners have trouble finding dates? Ron was a POW in Iraq, which has gained him some early friendships and respect from the other racers. Ron says that if he wins, he wants to donate the money to disabled soldiers. Despite all that, the couple is kind of boring, as evidenced by their horrible matching khaki sweats.

STRENGTHS Ron has military instincts and can keep calm.

WEAKNESSES Kelly has beauty-queen instincts and takes everything personally.

Image credit: Ryan and Chuck: Tony Esparza

Ryan and Chuck

”The Amazing Race 7”: Meet Ryan and Chuck

Eliminated March 1, 2005

AGES Ryan Phillips (left), 31; Chuck Horton, 32

HOMETOWN Landrum, S.C., and Inman, S.C.


LOWDOWN Yes! More real people! The self-proclaimed ”two fat guys from the hills who look like teddy bears” talk down-home and love a good meal. They’re great for comic relief — when Ryan revs up the engine of a rental car, Chuck whoops, ”Drive it like you stole it, baby!” Dubbed ”the Hillbillies” by other teams, they could surprise everyone.

STRENGTHS People like to help out teddy bears.

WEAKNESSES Teddy bears have never proven ruthless and conniving enough to win reality TV competitions.

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Image credit: Susan and Patrick: Tony Esparza


Susan and Patrick

”The Amazing Race 7”: Meet Susan and Patrick

Eliminated March 22, 2005

AGES Susan Vaughn, 54; Patrick Vaughn, 26

HOMETOWN Hamilton, Ohio, and Hollywood

RELATIONSHIP Mother and son

LOWDOWN Race‘s first mother-son team is perfectly cast — they’re likable despite their blatant cattiness. They picked nicknames for most of the other teams before the race even started (best so far is their name for Ryan and Chuck: ”Wayne and Garth”), and they admit early on that they’d like to be personally responsible for the elimination of Rob and Amber.

STRENGTHS Up for anything, except head shaving (Susan) and being around needles (Patrick). That’s okay. If they’re lucky, the race won’t take them through a hospital.

WEAKNESSES Quick to latch on to other teams — they might not be as confident on their own.

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Image credit: Uchenna and Joyce: Tony Esparza


Uchenna and Joyce

”The Amazing Race 7”: Meet Uchenna and Joyce

WINNERS! May 10, 2005

AGES Uchenna Agu, 40; Joyce Agu, 44



LOWDOWN The self-described control-freak procrastinators (interesting combination…) met as extras on a movie set and dated for 14 years before getting married. Both lost their high-powered jobs at corporations that went bankrupt, and they view the race as a chance to regain some of the closeness lost during recent years. Having gone through several failed in-vitro fertilization attempts, they say they’d use part of the prize money for more procedures.

STRENGTHS Good looks never hurt. (Uchenna’s a dead ringer for Six Feet Under‘s Mathew St. Patrick.)

WEAKNESSES They disagree on who wears the pants, even though in the premiere, they both did.

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