Before we get going, it was promised in Saturday's Toronto Star Wheels that a selection of photographs taken at the Rolex 24 at Daytona by photographer John Larsen could be found in my blog at wheels.ca
Well, they're not there - but they are over here on thestar.com where my blog also appears. Click here for those photos or just scroll down to the next post. And they are terrific. Great work, John.
Okay, years ago, I worked on the daily newspaper in Kingston and among my many duties was a three-times a week column about this, that and the other. One time I got really angry at what I considered stupidity on the part of a city councillor and I wrote a column with the headline: Hey, Dave: Don't Make Me Laugh.
I'm feeling that way again today. Ross Brawn, who was run out of town by either Toto Wolff or Niki Lauda, or both, at Mercedes and has since been linked to any number of other F1 teams but primarily McLaren told a reporter for the Daily Telegraph in England that he was retiring from F1.
Brawn made the announcement at a fishing tournament.
Said the man who was behind much of the success of Michael Schumacher at Benetton and Ferrari and who then purchased the Honda team, renamed it Brawn, and won yet another world championship:
"What they (media) didn't realise when I was invited here was they had a scoop because the world's press was trying to find out if I was retiring or not. This is the busiest time of the year for Formula One and I said I would come along and open the River Dee. If they (media) had put two and two together, they would have realised I was definitely retiring."
Definitely retiring? Ross, don't make me laugh.
It will be interesting to see how he will worm his way out of this one when, in three months, six months, a year or even two years, there is an announcement that he is joining whoever as technical director, team principal, team manager or whatever they want to call him. What's he going to say then?
- I was just joshin'?
- You misquoted me? (Always my favourite, by the way.)
- Or, "didn't you hear me say 'until I get a really good offer?' As in, 'I am definitely retiring until I get a really good offer.' "
Remember those suggested weasel words when Brawn returns to F1. Which he will. He took a year off in 2007 but couldn't stay away. He is only 59 years old and there is gold in them thar F1 hills.
You can bet he will want to keep collecting his share - once the right situation presents itself.
By the way, I have no idea what is going on with Justin Bieber, and don't really care all that much, except to say that - as in the case of Ross Brawn's "retirement" - you have to wonder about the level of reporting going on these days.
Or the manipulation of the media (see also above).
Miami police said Bieber was drag racing. This has been in all the stories since. The initial reports said police had become suspicious because two cars had blocked off a street so that two other cars could drag race.
Turns out that's not exactly true. In the latest video to surface, Bieber was driving along in a yellow Lambo, all right (which is probably what attracted the eyes of the cop), but he was going 50 mph in a 30 zone in the middle of a line of traffic that was all moving at that speed.
I don't know about you but that ain't drag racing. Maybe speeding, but certainly not drag racing. And he wasn't charged with either, anyway.
Speaking of media and manipulation and famous people, I continue to be appalled at the way Michael Schumacher's family and manager have handled the latest turn in his very sad story.
Earlier this week, there was a story in a German newspaper to the effect that Schumacher's doctors had planned to try to wake him up but changed their minds at the last minute.
This was followed less than a day later by a statement from his manager that, in fact, doctors had started the process of reducing the amount of sedation in his sytem that would lead eventually to an attempt to wake him up.
And then we got the usual leave us alone request. We'll get back to you if there's anything to say.
Michael Schumacher is a citizen of the world because of media. If television, radio, the Internet and newspapers hadn't covered his every move for the last 20 years, he would not be the icon he's become. There would certainly not be the concern at his predicament that there is.
But because he is an icon, he - and his family - owes something to his millions of fans who learned everything they did about him from media and who get up each day and look for news about the condition of the man they worship.
So when reporters are told to scram, those millions of fans are told they don't matter either.
You can't have it both ways (although many celebrities want it like that; witness Rob Ford and his "private time" argument). You can't allow media to be positive one minute and then shut them out when the situation turns negative.
And by shutting out media, it inevitably leads to confusion. One day, the stories all say that the longer Schumacher is in his comatose state, the worse his chances of recovery and the next you get a neurosurgeon being quoted as saying it's quite possible his recovery will be favourable.
And then there are some reports that say he's blinking his eyes and then there are reports that say he's not. Or that he's following suggestions and moving some parts of his anatomy. Or not. People read or listen to those reports and their hopes are buoyed or deflated by the "news."
By staying officially quiet, spokespeople allow this manipulation of emotions to take place. Even if there is no news, is it not better to say so on a daily basis than to sit behind a cloak of "privacy" and allow speculation to run rampant?
And they literally were just about dead even over the course of the season, which included a race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last Labour Day. While they each had one win, Burton won more poles than Blaney - six to one. But Blaney had more top-five finishes (eight to five) and two more top tens (13 to 11).
Both are sons of NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers (or Winston Cup, in the case of one of them). Jeb Burton's father is Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, now retired, while Ryan is the son of sprint-car champion-turned-stock car racer Dave Blaney.
The news today is that the sponsor of Burton's truck couldn't come up with the first instalment of moneys owed for 2014 and Turner Scott Motorsports, Jeb Burton's employer, has announced that unless there's a miracle, he won't be in their truck this season.
Which means his career has been stopped in its tracks.
Ryan Blaney, on the other hand, has got a contract with Penske Racing and will drive in two Sprint Cup races this season and a minimum of 15 Nationwide Series starts. He'll fill out his schedule in the trucks.
Doesn't seem quite fair, does it? One taking off like a super nova, the other fizzling. On the other hand, if you look behind the scene a little, there might be a hint as to how this sort of thing happens.
In 2014, you have to be the total package. You have to be able to drive the wheels off anything you strap yourself into but you also have to be suave, sophisticated, gallant, charming and able to speak intelligently in boardrooms as well as on TV and radio.
Last year, I had interraction with both those men. I started talking with Burton at a pre-season truck test at Old Mosport and he seemed decidedly uninterested in anything I asked him, including questions about his father.
On Labour Day, I walked up to Blaney totally unannounced and started asking about his father and why he hadn't started in sprint cars instead of stock cars and, etc. The kid couldn't have been nicer. I left thinking he was a class act.
This has been a tale of two young drivers. Of course, there is a lesson in there and one that Jeb Burton would be wise to learn.
Winding up, what is with Red Bull Racing?
How many ways can you say Out To Lunch?
The first test of the F1 season took place this past week and while Mercedes and Ferrari seemed to get going pretty good, the winner of four consecutive constructors championships had trouble completing a lap.
Will this year be the first in five years when Sebastian Vettel doesn't win the world championship? Hard to imagine, but maybe.
- NORRIS McDONALD