Murtz On The Scene: Exclusive Interview With The Amazing Race 23‘s Tim Wiyninger & Danny Merkey

It appears learning how to drive a stick shift automobile and being able to lift heavy things are no longer the only things a team needs on The Amazing Race. As Tim Wiyninger and Danny Merkey proved, you apparently now also need to be comfortable wearing dresses and also possess a great singing voice. Since when did The Amazing Race become The X Factor? The best friends from Oklahoma were eliminated after an Austrian roadblock asked one member of every team to sing a German song with the Vienna Boys’ Choir. I had the chance to catch up with Tim and Danny and asked them about their experience on the show.

Murtz Jaffer: I felt like when I tuned in on Sunday, I didn’t know if I was watching The Amazing Race or the Austrian version of The Voice! What was up with singing?

Tim Wiyninger: Man, I don’t even know man! It was so crazy. That’s something that I never expected would be on the Race. You’re prepared to do all these crazy things like lift weights and just random stuff and the singing was the last thing that came to my mind going on The Amazing Race.

MJ: Who was more embarrassed when you came back home and watched the episodes. Was it Danny in the dress or you with the singing?

TW: I would have to say Danny with the dress (laughs). What made it even worse was that he got upset during the challenge so whenever you’re upset and in a dress, it makes it even worse then just wearing the dress.

MJ: Yeah Danny, what was that like?

Danny Merkey: I wasn’t too embarrassed when I came back. There’s no shame in my game. I have actually maybe been in a dress before so.. who knows?

MJ: (Laughs). For a long time, Amazing Race teams that were made up of two guys dominated the show because they could just destroy the others in the physical detours and roadblocks. In your case, this didn’t seem to be much of a factor as the challenges were gender-neutral. Do you think that you would have made it farther if the challenges had been more physical?

DM: I believe so. Yeah, absolutely. We work in the oil field which is a very taxing and laboring job and I mean we work so many hours, I felt like that would have been our strong point and it was our strong point. Whenever the challenges were physical, we did better and whenever they were more finesse and coordination, it seemed to be our downfall.

TW: We actually did pretty good on most of the challenges, it was just getting to the challenges that was our problem. We actually knocked out that shoe shine challenge pretty quick. We blasted through everything, it was just getting there. The singing and dancing was the big downfall for us though.

MJ: In that same regard, the two guy teams haven’t done well this season. Chester and Ephraim were cut early, Rowan and Shane and Brandon and Adam also were eliminated and now you guys. Do you think there is an advantage based on the gender of the team or does it really just come down to your relationship with your partner and luck?

DM: I think a lot of it is luck. Chester and Ephraim… me and Tim were thinking that they had a pretty good shot to win. They are pretty impressive guys. They just got unlucky. They didn’t even get to really fight for their Race life. Same way with Shane and Rowan. They proved to be a lot stronger then it appeared and they just made one bad decision and it kind of cost them.

TW: I don’t think gender plays that much of a role this season. Like Danny said, Chester and Ephraim got out on unlucky circumstances because of their plane. Rowan and Shane got on the later bus… if they had been on the right bus, they probably would have beat out Kim and Nicky on that second leg. I think it is more of an even playing field this year which is good for television. Anybody can win.

MJ: The Amazing Race isn’t typically known for alliances, and yet this season is dominated by them. It’s basically Travis and Nicole with Jason and Amy on one side and the Afghanimals and Ally and Ashley as the two strongest. Did you guys work with anyone that we didn’t see or did you choose to run your own race?

DM: For the most part we just chose to run our own race. I guess we gave a lot more help than we ever got. We got along with everybody just fine. We had good relationships with just about every team including Tim and Marie and the Afghanimals who we U-Turned. We thought very highly of everybody on the show.

MJ: While I initially thought that the Afghanimals would be fan favourites, it seems like they are the biggest villains on the show next to Marie. Why did the other teams hate them so much?

TW: It was just their gameplay. They lied about a lot of stuff. They played the game too hard, too quick. On the first leg of the Race, a lot of people are just trying to get to know each other and feel each other out. Those guys, they were trying to figure out how to get where the fastest from the get-go. That isn’t bad but they were doing it by lying and that’s what the other teams didn’t like.

MJ: You chose to U-Turn them and they still ended up surviving. What was their reaction like to you when you saw them at the pit stop?

DM: They were a really strong team and that played a big part in why we U-Turned them. We knew how strong they were. They kind of understood. They were one of the last and only teams we saw behind us. The U-Turn is a tool that the Race puts there for you to use. We were actually shocked when we got there and nobody had used it knowing that there were several teams in front of us. I feel like if you don’t take advantage of it, then you’re not really racing to win.

MJ: So it had nothing to do with them screwing you guys over at the airport before that?

DM: Oh yeah, it had a little bit to do with that!

TW: It was just a perk that the team that happened to be behind us was also the team that we wanted to U-Turn in the first place. It was a double bonus for us.

MJ: Tim and Marie seem to fight with each other and the other teams a lot and yet they still end up always being near the front of the pack, what do you attribute this to?

TW: Marie, she’s really strong. She is the muscle of that team, and the brains. She does it all. The reason that they are doing so good is because she is just good. She is basically just pulling Tim behind her the whole time. She wouldn’t be able to go on the show if she didn’t have a partner so basically Tim is just pulling her bags which is not a bad strategy. She’s smart, she’s strong, she’s a great competitor.

DM: I think Tim is actually slowing her down a little bit or they would have won every leg of the Race.

MJ: Danny, a tough question for you. If you could race the race again with somebody other than Tim, who from the cast would you want as your partner?

DM: Oh, that’s an easy question! Brandon from the Beardos. He’s my buddy. We just connected. We had a lot in common. Honestly, I think I could run the Race with anybody from the cast because we just mesh so well with everyone.

MJ: Even the Afghanimals?

DM: Yeah, sure. Leo and Jamal. I think it would be interesting. Maybe they should have a season where you get there and everybody just switches partners.

MJ: Yeah, they did something like with an intersection on one of the seasons. Tim, the same question for you.

TW: I would probably partner up with Ephraim. He’s a big strong guy. He has a good attitude about everything. I don’t know if he would partner up with me but that’s who I would partner up with. We’re pretty good friends. He’s a great overall guy.

MJ: You guys are killing me! You both picked people from teams that have already been eliminated!

DM: Okay, if I had to pick someone from a team that is still there, I would probably pick Jamal. I think he’s a smart guy. I think he’ll do anything to win. He’s more of the villain and I am more of the good guy so maybe we’ll even each other out.

MJ: I can totally see you guys in the opening intro! Who will you guys be rooting for now that you are eliminated?

DM: I really like the ER couple. Travis and Nicole. They are great people and I think they are surprising people because they are definitely the team to beat right now.

TW: For me, it’s one of two teams. I like Jason and Amy mainly because we were on the first flight with them going from LA to Chile. Us and the Beards. We all got a really bond going in that first leg of the Race. I actually like Leo and Jamal. They are the team that everybody is going against right now. They have seven teams going against them and if they can win, that has to say something.

MJ: What’s next for you both?

DM: Next is back to reality. I am working and hanging out with my family. Taking it one day at a time here in Western Oklahoma.

TW: Same thing. Back to work. I will have my phone on for anybody who wants to call me for anything. I am a big fan of Big Brother and all that stuff. I like all those reality shows.

MJ: I am doing an appearance with Elissa from Big Brother next week, so I will tell her you guys are big fans of the show.

TW: Yeah, tell her I said hello.

MJ: I will for sure. And my final question is this. If I had to ask you guys to come up with a team name or a nickname for you both, what would it be?

DM: I guess we’re just Oklahoma. It’s simple. It’s good with me.

MJ: Awesome, thank you so much guys.

DM & TW: Thank you.

MJ: Thanks.

The Amazing Race airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on CTV & CBS

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