There is something more important going on in the world of motorsport than Jacques Villeneuve's decision to return to the Indianapolis 500 - which we will get to in a moment.
But a story broke Monday on racer.com that was mind-numbing. It is the equivalent of Roger Penske shutting down his IndyCar team for a year, or Rick Hendrick closing up shop.
The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team, which won two Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series championships starring the longest driver pairing in the Daytona Prototype class, Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney, announced it would sit out the rest of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season.
Fogarty and Gurney were released from their contracts and the team was shut down. The decision came a month after a devastating crash early in the Rolex 24 at Daytona that destroyed the team's Corvette DP and nearly killed driver Memo Gidley.
"It is with great regret that we will have to suspend operations for the balance of the 2014 season," Stallings said in the racer.com story. "Since Daytona, priority one for us has been on Memo's recovery. Everyone on the team has been focused on his care and comfort, and it has meant the world to see such support from the fans and the racing community at large.
"Even though Memo has a long road ahead, the worst is behind him, and it has allowed us to step back and take a look at the program at large. With both the personal and economic strain this has put on us, we feel it's in the best interest of everyone to sit out this year, with a firm focus on a return in 2015."
The real story behind this decision - and the lesson - is unknown. There will be no speculating in this corner. But it's a real shame that one of the storied North American sports car teams and its two legendary drivers won't be in action again this year - unless, of course, another team with sufficient funding offers Fogarty and Gurney (and their support staff) employment.
Meantime, the IndyCar Series has been seriously promoting a media conference scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in which Schmidt-Peterson Racing will announce a driver and sponsor to contest the 2014 Indianapolis 500 in May.
The hot rumour - unconfirmed, by the way - is that Villeneuve will be in the seat and the first two words I thought of when I heard the news were "Jean" and "Alesi."
Jean Alesi drove in Formula One until 2001. Then he announced he would try to race in the Indy 500 in 2012 - eleven years after he last raced a single-seat car. Indianapolis was a disaster, in that his Lotus-powered car was so slow that he was black-flagged after less than a dozen laps.
Alesi was not a winner in F1, so although the Indy experience might have been embarrassing for him, it wasn't exactly surprising.
Villeneuve, however, was rookie-of-year at Indy in 1994 when he finished second in the race. In 1995, he came from two laps down - he was five miles behind - to win the 500. He also won the CART championship that year before moving on to Formula One with Wiliams. In 1997, he became World Champion.
That is an incredible legacy.
But as any singer will tell you, you're only as good as your last hit record. Villeneuve - I believe - hurt his reputation by staying in F1 way past his "best before" date and then trying - and failing - to be a winner again in all sorts of other racing series and classes.
In NASCAR, for instance, he has contested races in Sprint Cup, the Nationwide Series, the Truck Series and the Canadian Tire Series and won none of them. He's tried Speedcar, V8 Supercars and something called Top Race V6 and had similar results.
Now, eight years after he last raced a single-seat car (F1-Sauber), Villeneuve has apparently decided that it's a good idea to return to the scene of some of his greatest triumphs - 20 years after the fact.
It is not a good idea. In 1994 and '95, he was the Golden Boy who couldn't miss, his place in Indy 500 and motor racing history secure. Now he's risking his reputation and his record - and for what?
When I learned that Rogers was dropping the Speed Channel as of March 1, I wrote a column saying that if you wanted to watch the 12 Hours of Sebring you should call Bell.
That still stands, but if you want to see the 24 Hours of Le Mans, you'd better either fly to France or else cross the border into the United States and rent a motel room that has Fox Sports 1 on the TV because Bell is dropping Speed as of the beginning of May.
Speed has not existed in the U.S. since last summer when Fox Sports 1 started and took over all its live racing programming. Fox Sports is blocked from broadcasting on cable and/or satellite systems in Canada because of our protectionist laws that only allow us to watch all-sports channels like TSN and the various Sportsnet channels. Speed continued in Canada, I imagine, because of contracts that were in place prior to the Fox takeover. The contracts are now up, apparently, and I hear - unofficially - that Fox really jacked up the price to keep Speed going in Canada and Rogers and now Bell said sayonara.
This means, of course, that although we will still get to see all the Formula One races, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide races and all the - according to Rogers - IZOD races (you really have to wonder how some people get jobs, don't you?) we will not be able to see any sports car racing, the classic long-distance races like Le Mans or any Camping World Series truck races (except for the one on Labour Day at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park).
If you don't care about motorsport, your reaction could very well be "so what?" But if you are a fanatic like I am, and - presumably - many of the people reading this column, this is officially a Sad State of Affairs.
I continue to see Rogers as the villain of the piece.
When Speed first started, it was on Rogers Channel 48 and part of basic cable (or whatever they call the first 60-or-so channels). When the Turner Classic Movies channel came along in 2006, Rogers put it on Channel 48 and bumped Speed up into the stratosphere where you've had to pay a premium ever since to keep receiving it.
Over time, I imagine Rogers made a lot of money off people like you and me because we paid extra to get that channel (I could care less about some of those other sports specialty channels I'm forced to take). So if Rogers had any kind of a corporate conscience, knowing full well that sports-car racing, truck racing, Moto GP racing et al will no longer be available because of the demise of Speed, they would ensure that Sportsnet found room on one or some of their many channels to show those races.
Yes, I know those are separate divisions within one huge company but they could do it if they wanted to.
Last Lap: The owner of Panther Racing in IndyCar, John Barnes, has sued all sorts of people over the loss of his National Guard sponsorship to Bobby Rahal's team.
I don't know who's right or who's wrong. What stopped me cold was the sums of money reportedly involved.
Barnes made a pitch for $17,219,658.47 to run a one-car team for a season that will start in March and end on Labour Day. Rahal's deal is worth $12,693,967.47, also for one car. Oh, and that includes hospitality . . .
Am I in the Twilight Zone? Somebody sure is.
- NORRIS McDONALD