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Little fuss over Vettel’s ‘language’

Published November 8, 2012

I was talking with Dave Redinger on his TSN radio show Fast Talk this week (I have to give him a plug because he lets me talk about Toronto Star Wheels, Wheels.ca and our new Wheels Canada magazine a lot on his shows) and the topic of Sebastien Vettel’s F-bomb came up.

This was in reference to the podium ceremony following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last Sunday during which the two-time world champion said the F-word, forcing ex-racer and now-TV commentator David Coulthard to apologize to the millions watching around the world.

Since then, the reaction has been, shall we say, somewhat muted.

In fact, there has been no reaction.

If anybody was shocked, disgusted, concerned or angry that Vettel had been so careless with his choice of words, they’ve been awfully quiet about it.

That doesn’t mean the powers-that-be haven’t taken action and, in fact, on Thursday the FIA issued a directive to all F1 drivers that they are not to swear on television.

But I’m talking about the general population. Nobody has been shocked or appalled by this slip (and that’s really what it was) and I’m starting to wonder whether the use of this word is now becoming more acceptable?

Having said that, I can’t see Sidney Crosby saying that word in an interview on Hockey Night in Canada  (you can say it on the ice but not to Ron MacLean between periods.) I can’t see David Letterman dropping it on his Late Show. Diane Sawyer (even when she’s not tipsy)? I doubt it. And I guarantee that no NASCAR or IndyCar star will say it on camera anytime soon.

But there’s no doubt a societal shift is under way. How far – and how fast – it will go is anybody’s guess.

I received a note this week from retired Star feature writer Bill Taylor, who was a regular on the pages of Wheels at one time and still contributes articles and photographs on occasion.

Writes Bill:

“Port Dover’s last Friday the 13th motorcycle rally in July is a fading memory. The next one — there won’t be another Friday the 13th till next September — is a long way off.

“But bikers will be roaring into the small Lake Erie fishing port a week from tomorrow anyway, but for a different reason: to reflect upon those killed while riding in the past year and to perhaps think a little more and a little harder about motorcycle safety.

“David Stewart, a retired motorcycle cop and authority on safe riding, together with the Canadian Motorcycle Association, organized the first Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims at Kinsmen Park in Port Dover a year ago. ”

Now, Port Dover was chosen because of its long association with motorcycling – the Friday the 13th gatherings go back three decades – and its friendliness toward bikers.

The organizers are hoping the noon ceremony at Kinsmen Park on Nov. 18 will see a bigger turnout than last year.

“ ‘It was small, maybe a dozen riders,’ Stewart, who rides a Ducati 906, told Taylor. “But it was our first so it can only get better. As more people get to know about it, they might want to come and spend a moment to celebrate the life of a buddy.

“We’re hoping, too, that local business might want to join us for a few moments. Port Dover does very well out of Friday the 13th. ”

Austin Riley, the subject of an excellent article by Matthew Strader in the Sept. 15 issue of Wheels, finished second in the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship and since then has won Mini Max club championships at the Mosport and Goodwood kart tracks.

Austin suffers from autism. He and his family have partnered with Autism Speaks Canada and for every dollar in sponsorship raised to support Austin’s racing career, 25 cents will be donated to Autism Speaks.

Want to help out? Go to www.racingwithautism.com.

Formula One movers and shakers are on pins and needles as the end of the season approaches and, with it, a decision by prosecutors in Germany whether to charge Bernie Ecclestone for bribing banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to the tune of $44 million in the sale of F1 to an investment bank.

Everybody knows the story by now. Gribkowsky says he was bribed, Ecclestone says he paid the guy the money but that was because he was being blackmailed.

Gribkowsky is serving eight years in jail for his role in the affair; Ecclestone is still promoting F1 – but for how long?

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