The Amazing Race
February 19, 2012 by staff
The Amazing Race, Dave Brown Jr., who went to school in West Salem through his freshman year, and his wife, Rachel, will compete on the 20th season of “The Amazing Race” on CBS.
Last summer in Los Angeles, West Salem native Dave Brown and his wife, Rachel, were subjected to a number of psychological and physical screenings and exams, one of which was the famous IQ test.
Neither Dave, 33, nor his wife Rachel, 30, had ever taken an IQ test. But they were hoping to be chosen as contestants on the CBS show “The Amazing Race” and the tests were part of the deal.
After the IQ test, Rachel asked for the results.
The examiner said, “Are you sure you want to know?”
“When I heard that,” Dave said recently, “I knew I wanted to know.”
No doubt that kind of competitiveness and feisty good humor is part of why the Browns were ultimately chosen as contestants on “Race,” the eight-time Emmy Award-winning reality show that begins its 20th season tonight on CBS.
It also probably didn’t hurt that they look like movie stars.
Of course, they are not film idols. Dave is with the Wisconsin Army National Guard, having served in a number of capacities, including Black Hawk helicopter pilot, military intelligence officer and, currently, assistant professor of military science with the ROTC detachment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Brown, whose father was a West Salem police officer who went by “George,” attended Lutheran grade school.
Rachel, who grew up near the Twin Cities and came to Madison to attend UW, is a project manager for Epic in Verona. She was traveling last week and not able to participate in my interview with Dave, which had to be conducted over the phone so a CBS representative could listen in.
The network appears to live in mortal fear that a contestant on the show will slip and reveal a location or result from the new season – which was shot in the fall – before it airs. Eleven couples are in the competition that takes them around the world in about 25 days and brings a prize of $1 million to the winners.
CBS didn’t have to worry about Dave Brown, who was smooth as could be – as well as friendly and funny – during our chat.
After growing up in the La Crosse area, Brown moved with his mother to Phoenix, where he attended high school and then Arizona State University. He enrolled in the Arizona National Guard in 1996, transferring to the Wisconsin Guard, and Madison, in 2000.
Dave said he and Rachel met at Wando’s in Madison in 2006. They married in August 2009. Both were fans of “The Amazing Race” before they met.
“Then, as a couple, we watched more intently,” he said.
Like a lot of viewers, they speculated what it might be like to be contestants.
But they never acted on it until Dave was deployed to Iraq in 2010. The forced separation – abetted by a general lack of communication technology from Iraq and the secrecy requirements of Dave’s work with military intelligence – took a toll on them.
Dave and Rachel were able to reunite in Australia in February 2011 when Dave got two weeks’ rest and relaxation from Iraq. Just prior, Rachel had sent Dave a note saying a fun way for them to reconnect might be to apply for “The Amazing Race.”
Dave wasn’t sure she was serious, but once they were in Sydney, Rachel pulled out a thick sheaf of paper that turned out to be the application. Between surfing lessons and romantic dinners, they filled it out.
Rachel mailed the application from Madison, and before long word arrived that the “Race” casting department was interested enough to want a video of the couple. Dave, however, was back in Iraq. He got his flight crew chief to tape him with their plane in the background.
Dave’s overseas deployment ended last June; not long after, he and Rachel were flown to California with other potential contestants for interviews with the “Race” host and creators, as well as testing to predict how well they might handle the show’s physical and mental challenges.
Clearly, they tested well. Dave and Rachel plan to watch tonight’s first episode in Madison, where they will be hosting an informal party at Madison’s on King Street for anyone who wants to share in the fun, starting at 5:30 p.m.
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