A pit stop is a finish line of an individual leg of the race. After teams complete all necessary detours, roadblocks, and other tasks they are directed to the location of the pit stop. Alternatively if a team completes the Fast Forward challenge they bypass any other challenges and go straight to the pit stop. Each Pit Stop is a mandatory rest period which allows teams to eat, sleep, and (in earlier seasons) mingle with each other.
The MatSeason 1, check-in mats for Pit Stops were representative of local cultures. In Season 2 and Season 3, they were black with a yellow and red border. Beginning in Season 4, they would feature an ornately decorated world map. The only time in which this mat was not used (other than in Season 8) was in Season 6's leg 8 (France - Ethiopia), which had a woven mat symbolic of a local culture. In Season 8 the mats were black with a yellow and white border. The Finish Line mats are an elevated red carpet with The Amazing Race logo enlarged on it.
Some versions of the race have slightly or dramatically different mats. The Australian version has the same design but the map is Australia/Asia centred instead instead of Europe/Africa centred like the normal mat. The Canadian versions also has a similar design but only features canada on the map portion of the mat.
Arriving at the Pit Stop
At each pit stop a local from the country will greet the teams, and Phil will inform them of their position in the race and if they have incurred any penalties. In Season 1 Phil only greeted the last team to arrive to tell them if they were eliminated or safe. A team is officially checked in only when all members have stepped on the mat; this is used for the purposes of breaking ties.
Prior to Season 5, multiple teams were allowed to arrive at the mat at the same time, creating a tie, and allowing them to leave the mat at the same time for the next leg. After the 3-way tie in the Leg 1 (USA-Italy) of Season 4 in which each team received the prize, a new rule was put into place to eliminate ties. If two or more teams reach the mat at the same time, the order that the teams arrived is determined, with the official check-in time for the other teams being 1 minute after the first team for the second team, 2 minutes after the first team for the third team, and so on. This time difference rule appears to have been removed as of Season 11, as two teams checked in for first place for one leg and left for the next at the same time; however, there was only one prize to be given for finishing first, requiring the teams to determine which team received it. In "Season 12" though, there was a five way tie to the pit stop in Burkina Faso, and the teams involved in it departed in one minute intervals. In Season 24 Leg 2 in China, seven teams was arrive at the same time to the pit stop, and the teams involved in it departed in one minute intervals. In Season 28 Leg 4 in Switzerland, eight teams arrived at the same time to the pit stop.
If multiple teams arrive at the Pit Stop at the same time, the placement on the previous leg will determine the order.
Starting in Season 2, in some legs the first team to arrive wins a prize such as a vacation or cruise, which they receive after that particular season has aired on TV. In Seasons 6, 8, 9, and 10 prizes were given to the winners of every leg. In Season 7, different types of rewards such as cash and automobiles were handed out; at least two legs, however, did not have a prize awarded. The winners of the third leg in Season 8 won free gasoline for life, from BP and ARCO (specifically, $1200 of gasoline a year for 50 years, which is $60,000 per winner). For Seasons 17 onwards, the first place team of the first leg received an Express Pass.
- Main article: Rules and Penalties
If a team missed a clue or challenge, they had to go back and pick up all clues directing them to the pit stop. If a team broke a rule during a challenge or during transportation (such as taking a taxi when directed to go by foot) they would incur a time penalty at the pit stop. If a team was "Marked for Elimination" because they arrived last on the previous non-elimination leg, they had to wait 30 minutes (unless they were the first to arrive). However, if a team has no choice but to be eliminated all these penalties are nullified and they are immediately eliminated by Phil.
Teams normally complete all tasks and check in at the Pit Stop before they are eliminated. Occasionally, on an elimination leg, if all other teams have checked in and the last team is very far behind, Route Markers may instruct them to go directly to the Pit Stop without completing the rest of the leg (Peggy & Claire, Mary & Peach in Season 2, Michael & Kathy, Andre & Damon in Season 3, Peter & Sarah in Season 10. While it appeared to be the case in Season 11 that Uchenna & Joyce were directed to the pit stop after arriving several hours after the other teams had checked in and obtaining the first clue in the country, they later interviewed that they had performed all the tasks before they checked in and were eliminated. Conversely, host Phil Keoghan may go out to the team's location to eliminate them if they won't/can't finish a task (Marshall & Lance in Season 5, Lena & Kristy in Season 6, Maria & Tiffany in Season 15, and Kelly and Shevonne from Season 27). There have been times where a team, after all others reached the Pit Stop, appears to have been directed to the Pit Stop or to quit the last Detour or Roadblock prematurely in some manner outside the normal method of providing a Route Marker (Paul & Amie in Season 1, Shola & Doyin in Season 2, and Kellie & Jamie in Season 10)
- Main article: Elimination
The last team to arrive at the Pit Stop is eliminated, barring any penalties, or unless that leg of the race is one of the predetermined non-elimination legs. CBS started posting videos from the Elimination Station on its website during Season 11.
The eliminations themselves have now earned the name "Philimination" in the Amazing Race fan community, a portmanteau of the host's name and the word "elimination".
- Main article: Non-Elimination Leg
Each Race has a predetermined number of Non-Elimination Legs, in which the team to arrive last is not eliminated from the race. In most instances the teams do not know if the leg is elimination or not, and only the last team to arrive is told upon arrival. Beginning in Season 5 if the last team was not eliminated, they received a penalty.
At each Pit Stop, all teams rest for a predetermined amount of time, typically 12 hours. The production staff provides food free-of-charge to the teams at the Pit Stops (food during the legs must be purchased with the money the teams receive). Lodging is also provided, but teams are not allowed outside of the Pit Stop and do not have access to other research materials to prepare unless they brought them with them to the Pit Stop. During the Pit Stop, teams are also interviewed to provide commentary and voice-overs for the completed leg.
Resumption of the Race
Teams depart for the next leg of the race at the time they arrived plus twelve hours. While a team arriving at 12:00 p.m. will depart at 12:00 a.m., the total amount of rest time may be more than twelve hours, in which case the pit stop will be extended by 24 hour increments—such as one day and twelve hours (36 hours). In latter seasons, some Pit Stops have been between 12 and 24 hours, presumably for safety reasons so that teams are not driving themselves during night hours, to keep teams from hanging around in an airport for a long time, or to prevent teams from accessing earlier flights that could disrupt filming. The exact Pit Stop times are never reported by the show, but have been determined by fans using a combination of flight information, screen captures, and show information. The longest known Pit Stop occurred in Season 1, where the Pit Stop in Tunisia lasted 60 hours due to a sandstorm that also forced production to relocate the Pit Stop.
- Main article: Superleg
Occasionally a deceptive pit-stop would appear on the race, and teams would be given another clue by Phil rather than ending the leg. This is known as a Superleg.
In most cases, before it is announced to the first team, a Superleg is evident if Phil is either at the Mat without a greeter, or says "___ & ___, you are the nth team to arrive...however..." instead of "___ & ___, you are team number #", which he would otherwise only say when a team has done something wrong or are Marked for Elimination and didn't arrive 1st.
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