When the telecast on the Speed Channel of the Rolex 24 at Daytona went off the air on Sunday afternoon at or about 2:40 p.m., host and anchor announcer Bob Varsha said these words:
"We'll see you in March at the 12 Hours of Sebring."
Not if you're a client of Rogers cable, you won't.
Somebody over there has decided that Speed must go at the end of February, apparently. Why, I have no idea. They have a thousand channels available for everything from 24-hour children's television (there are lots of kids up at 4 a.m. watching Treehouse) to gardening but they are going to drop Speed.
I'll tell you here and now that it's for no other reason than the guy (or woman) in charge doesn't like auto racing. Maybe the contract to carry the channel will expire at some point but not at the end of February when the racing season is about to get under way.
They will tell you that there are other reasons, starting with nobody watches Speed. Well, I do and when there is racing on like the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, I betcha there are a whole bunch of others watching too.
But that doesn't matter when you're dealing with people who don't like something. I have been in this business for far too many years and I can tell you that if a newspaper entertainment editor doesn't like the arts, there ain't gonna be any on the entertainment pages. And if a sports editor doesn't like cricket, don't even bother to look for coverage despite the fact that thousands of people who read that paper happen to like cricket. That's the way it is.
Same thing with TV channels. If, for whatever reason, something has to go, I guarantee you the decision will be a personal choice made by the person in charge. The fact that nobody watches half the sports channels they carry (I mean, they had a 24/7 U.S. college football channel that always seemed to have the Doug Flutie/Boston College game on when I clicked past) doesn't seem to matter. When someone makes a decision, hell will freeze over before it's changed.
So let's turn down the thermostat.
I've fought this battle too many times to personally bother picking up the phone and listening to people b-s about a decision. The only way to win this fight is to hit 'em where they don't like being hit: in the wallet.
So by all means, call Rogers and register your displeasure. The number is 1-888-rogers1. But here is the better way.
Call up Bell and order one of the two packages that include the Speed Channel. They have Speed in HD, too. So does Shaw cable. And then call Rogers and tell them you are cancelling.
Weeping and wailing won't do it. Switching your television and Internet provider just might.
Other than the Memo Gidley accident, which was just awful, that was a pretty good Rolex 24 (click here for my weekend blog, with appropriate comment).
Here are some post-race observations:
- There were actually some people in the grandstands at the start of the race. Perhaps they'd wandered over from the infield and would return later but that didn't matter. It was nice to see that.
- Except for Jamie McMurray, where were the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers? There are usually a half-dozen, or so, but not this year. A.J. Allmendinger was in a car, but he's flitted back and forth between NASCAR and IndyCar and, so far as I know, doesn't have employment in either for this season so he doesn't really count. Neither does Kyle Larson, who hasn't started his NASCAR career yet. McMurray and Larson, of course, drive for Chip Ganassi and he has a foot in every camp.
On the other hand, there were so many IndyCar drivers - 11, by my count - that if you are in IndyCar and didn't have a Rolex ride there must be something the matter with you.
For the record: Sebastien Bourdais finished first overall; Simon Pagenaud was 11th overall; Ryan Hunter-Reay, 12th overall; Graham Rahal, 14th; Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan, 15th; Mikhail Aleshin, 21st overall; Justin Wilson, 47th; James Hinchcliffe, 57th (mechanical problems, obviously) and Ryan Briscoe, 60th. I put Alex Tagliani in this group as well. I expect him to land somewhere in IndyCar this season, even if it's just a one-off like the Indianapolis 500. (I'm not sure about Allmendinger, in either series.)
As usual, there were dozens of Canadians there. Only kidding, but there were plenty in the race.
In addition to class winner Mark Wilkins, Tagliani and Hinchcliffe, there were Kyle Marcelli of Barrie (he dropped out of the Prototype Challenge race when his car caught fire), Michael Valiante and Chris Cumming of Vancouver, Kuno Wittmer of Hudson, Que., Paul Dalla Lana of Toronto, the Dumoulin brothers (L.P. and J.P.) of Trois-Rivieres, John Farano and David Empringham of Toronto, Kenny Wilden of Oakville (who was caught spinning by the Speed cameras) and Max Riddle, of Vancouver.
- One reason why the NASCAR owners/team managers discourage their charges from racing in non-NASCAR events is because of what happened to Gidley. If you're racing in the SportsCar championship, and you are injured, then it is the luck of the game. But if your day job is driving in Sprint Cup races 36 times a year, it is probably not a good idea to go racing in another series where you could get yourself pretty banged up. This is known in NASCAR as the Tony Stewart Lesson.
- Speaking of the Gidley wreck, Varsha explained that they held off showing the replay on TV until they were sure everybody was still alive.
As the commercial for McDonald's goes: Whaaaaa????
The new SportsCar series is owned by NASCAR. Did they know about this? Can you imagine NASCAR not showing the replay of a Big One until they made sure everybody was okay? There would be rioting in the streets.
I really hope that this doesn't become policy. Race drivers are daredevils, cheating serious injury and death every step of the way. To pretend otherwise is stupid. Memo Gidley fell off the trapeze and people watching should have been able to see it shortly after it happened, not the next day. What are we becoming? Wimps?
This decision was as silly as ABC insisting that young Wallenda wear a safety harness looped around his ankle when he walked a tightrope across Niagara Falls.
Finally, that Formula One truly is the Piranha Club couldn't have been illustrated more vividly than the departure from Lotus F1 last week of team principal Eric Boullier, who also happens to be Romain Grosjean's manager.
Boullier will wind up at McLaren, if he isn't there already. McLaren, of course, recently saw the departure of team principal Martin Whitmarsh as a direct result of Ron Dennis winning a power struggle within the McLaren Group.
I imagine the fact that Lotus F1 (Boullier) was wooing Sony to be its sponsor wouldn't have anything to do with the shenanigans either, would it? I mean, Sony would look so much better on the side of the McLaren cars than it would on the Lotus, considering that next year fellow Japanese company Honda will be involved with Dennis' team.
And to carry this little scnario to its logical conclusion, who's to say that if Lotus F1 goes belly up - which it very well could do - Grosjean won't be in place to take over from Jenson Button, either this year or next?
It's a nasty business.
- NORRIS McDONALD