I agree with your entire post and especially the last statement, John Seavey. I do understand why some people don't want any tinkering with the show, but I don't mind the experiments. As you note, it keeps the racers guessing. As a rule, I am bored by the unflappable racers who figure out how to play it as a game.
It seems that many of us continue to watch this show because of the magic in the first few seasons we viewed, whether we began with Season 1 or Season 25. When that magic wears off, is it because of the show's structure, casting, and tasks, or is it because magic is hard to susta