NASCAR & Auto Racing

Nevada City’s Rossi won the Indy 500, but can he speed through ‘The Amazing Race’?

Wearing French fry costumes and pushing bags of unfried potatoes, IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi, left, and Yale debater Evan Lynyak compete in a “Friet Race” during “The Amazing Race.”
Wearing French fry costumes and pushing bags of unfried potatoes, IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi, left, and Yale debater Evan Lynyak compete in a “Friet Race” during “The Amazing Race.” CBS

How far would Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi go to promote his sport? Around the world – and then some.

Representing IndyCar, the Nevada City native and fellow driver Conor Daly competed against athletes and adventurers of all kinds during Season 30 of “The Amazing Race.” The show airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on CBS. The finale is set for Feb. 21.

“It’s our obligation as IndyCar drivers to represent,” Rossi said Tuesday during a visit to Sacramento. “It’s also very cool to have been on one of the most successful reality shows ever and have an opportunity to win $1 million.”

Filmed over four weeks in late September and October, this season traverses 10 countries, 21 cities and more than 29,000 miles. Among the other teams Rossi and Daly competed against were former NBA players Cedric Ceballos and Shawn Marion, X Games skiers Kristi Leskinen and Jen Hudak and competitive eaters Joey Chestnut and Tim Janus.

“We had a French fry race in Belgium and we were worried about Joey,” Daly noted. Fortunately, the race involved dressing up in French fry costumes, not devouring them. “That was a big relief,” Rossi added.

“We had 11 incredibly competitive teams,” Rossi said. “These were all people successful in their own fields and very competitive; we saw that right from the beginning. We became actually pretty good friends.”

Both 26 and former roommates, Rossi and Daly spent a lot of time early in their racing careers in Europe, so they had a feel for multiple languages and constant travel. But they had never done such things as grade diamonds or answer clues in Icelandic. “The Amazing Race” rules also include such twists as the teammates had to stay within 20 feet of each other at all times, with Rossi always on Daly’s right on camera.

“I never used a road map growing up,” Daly added of the challenges. “We always had Mapquest and GPS. It certainly was not easy.”

“This was not glamorous at all,” Rossi said. “We spent a lot of time in airports and sleeping on concrete floors. A lot we went through is never seen on TV. We were very much out of our comfort zone.”

Said Daly, “You had to have an open mind – and be ready for anything.”

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington

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