Professor’s “Death Race” headed for reality TV

A couple years ago, Castleton State College professor Andy Weinberg and his friend Joe DeSena created one of the most physically and mentally demanding challenges in the world and dubbed it The Spartan Death Race.

The race involves tasks like hauling stumps for miles up a mountain and submerging yourself under near-freezing water for 60 seconds. Now the race is making its way to reality television.

“The Death race is the most intriguing out of all the Peak Races, and it’s a very unique race, not only to us, but the racers, and is unlike any other event in the world. Out of nowhere people started contacting us about making it a TV show, Weinberg said.

Pilgrim Studios, the largest reality television production company in Los Angeles known for reality television shows “Dirty Jobs” and “The Ultimate Fighter,” contacted Weinberg and DeSena interested in making a reality show called “Unbreakable,” based on the infamous Spartan Death Race.

Weinberg said he had hoped for interest from MTV or Discovery, although he stressed they were never looking to get rich off the race. But if they were going to follow through on filming, he said they figured why not make some money off what they created.

He said MTV and Discovery felt the race was too intense of a production, but Pilgrim Studios was undaunted.

“I’m a teacher and my friend (Joe) is a stock broker and we know nothing about TV, so if they set it up we’ll go through with it. They’re going to write a script and produce it, but we will have little involvement,” Weinberg said.

One of Weinberg’s students, Kristy Pinkham, feels it is hard to believe that one of her professors is crazy enough to create such a race.

“I think that the race is very interesting and I always stay attentive in Weinberg’s Designs for Fitness class because he is very passionate about his work and always has good stories to tell,” Pinkham said.

Matt Soroka, a previous death race competitor and professor at Castleton State College, said he’s interested to see how the TV show comes out.

“They interview you before and after completing an obstacle, and the script is set up in a way to make you say dumb things that don’t really make sense. There is a system behind the madness,” he said.

Pilgrim Studios is in the process of buying some of the rights from the duo and continuing to narrow down the search for the perfect Death Race contestants, Weinburg said. He said the first round of the casting calls consisted of 18,000 people who sent an e-mail expressing interest in being part of the show. Then the studio cut out 90 percent in the second round where the applicants sent in a video of themselves performing random talents.

The producers are now onto the third round of narrowing the search to 100, Weinberg said.

The show’s producers say “It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced or first-time racer. We’re looking for students, businessmen, firefighters, waiters, teachers, marines, housewives, or anyone with the determination to take on big challenges that test the limits of mind, body and will. This is not your average competition show. Your only prize is the exhilaration of the race and the opportunity to show America that you are the toughest adventure racer in the country.”

“Unbreakable” will be airing on the SciFi channel in Prime Time this summer 2012, and will still be held at the Death Races’ head quarters in Pittsfield, Vt. You can still apply to be a contestant by emailing Include your name, location, contact info, recent photo, and a short description of why you are up for the challenge. For more info, call (818) 478-4570.

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