Ready, set …

Local duo compete on new season of reality show The Amazing Race

Chico natives Brandon Squyres (left) and Adam Switzer are lifelong friends and soon-to-be reality-TV stars.

Chico natives Brandon Squyres (left) and Adam Switzer are lifelong friends and soon-to-be reality-TV stars.

Photo by jason cassidy

Race fans:
The Amazing Race shows Sundays, at 8 p.m., on CBS, starting Sept. 29.

The teams for the 23rd season of The Amazing Race are made up of the usual suspects—childhood friends, couples, siblings, pro-sports teammates, father-daughter combos—all duking it out for a $1 million booty. But there’s one team that sticks out for obvious reasons. Among the hard-bodies, chiseled jawlines and perfect skin of this season you’ll find a couple of Chico metalheads whose faces probably haven’t seen the sun, or a razor, since the show debuted back in 2001.

Many locals already know that longtime pals Brandon Squyres and Adam Switzer have, indeed, taken part in the upcoming season of CBS’s reality staple The Amazing Race. In fact, for all we know, Squyres and Switzer are already sitting poolside in their Speedos, listening to Black Sabbath and lighting cigars with $100 bills. That’s how I’d like to picture it, anyway.

The new season—which premieres Sept. 29—is already in the can, with shooting having taken place over the course of a month this past June. Needless to say, Squyres and Switzer are contractually sworn to secrecy on show details and the outcome. Just to illustrate how tight the folks at CBS are keeping things, I had to set up the interview with Switzer and Squyres (whose number was sitting right there in my phone contacts) through the network’s publicist, who gave us 15 minutes and monitored the call just in case I tried to pry any off-limits information out of them.

Both Squyres and Switzer admit they hadn’t seen a full season of the show prior to sending in their audition tape, although they’ve talked about entering for years. “I’d seen a bunch of episodes on TV,” said Squyres. “And I thought, ‘I wish I could do that.’”

Making it happen hasn’t been easy. Switzer lives on, and takes care of, 22 acres in the sticks north of Chico; Squyres is a contractor by day, and a metal screamer by night, fronting the bands Cold Blue Mountain, Amarok and, of course, venerable Chico metal institution The Makai. He got Switzer on board, and this year they finally made the deadline.

“It’s hard,” Squyres said. “Especially getting older. You don’t get to spend much time with friends.”

Squyres and Switzer are no doubt the most rockingest-and-rollingest team to hit the show—unless you count Season 21, which featured former White Lion bassist James LoMenzo. Their black T-shirts (look for the primetime debut of a Cold Blue Mountain tee) and lion’s-mane beards have definitely made them easy targets for some.

“We thought they would be underestimated by other teams,” wrote Allison Mello by email. She’s on a team with her friend and fellow Los Angeles Kings Ice Crew Girl, Ashley Covert. “But we didn’t count them out as an easy team to beat because we thought they might have had a lot of travel experience.”

They thought right. Squyres has toured all over America and Europe with his bands, and Switzer has also done a fair share of traveling, and speaks Spanish and French. When asked if they’d done anything to prepare for the mental and physical tests they were about to endure, Switzer answered the way I’d hoped he would: “I did some 12-ounce Sierra Nevada pull-ups.”

The Amazing Race phenomenon shouldn’t be underestimated. This is a huge deal to a lot of people. Since the TV spots for the forthcoming season started airing in late August, Squyres has already been approached by a man in a hardware store, who proceeded to explain how much the show meant to his family. There are people on YouTube already making predictions, like “Nonstop Noah,” who picked these two bearded wonders to win it all.

Of course, Switzer and Squyres already know the outcome. And Switzer already knows what he’ll do with his half of the $1 million bucks. If they won/ win, of course.

“I might potentially retire. I might potentially buy a Bigfoot monster truck. I might buy Brandon a camel, because he’s always wanted one.”