Losing Sleep

Some nights I just can’t seem to switch off my mind. I toss and turn as my thoughts leap from one subject to another, some relevant and useful to what I’m doing that week, others so disparate and distant, I wonder where those thoughts came from or why I’m even having them — at 4 in the morning. I imagine we all have those nights, but for me, they seem to happen more frequently since I started racing.

That obsessive compulsion is about the only negative aspect of racing that I’ve found, but given all the positives racing has brought into my life, the trade-off seems worthwhile. I’ll lose a little sleep if I can gain a wider circle of friends and colleagues. I’ll toss and turn at night in exchange for a renewed devotion to mental and physical fitness. I’ll give up a little shut-eye to obsess over the a lifestyle that motivates and engages every part of me. I can down some melatonin and magnesium at bedtime to combat insomnia, but suffice it to say I’d rather lose a little sleep than give up racing.

During the racing season, the pattern is usually the same. As the race weekend approaches, my thoughts converge on getting myself and the car ready to go. Have I crossed off every task on the white board? Is the trailer packed? Have I studied enough video from the last time I was at the track? Have I forgotten anything?

Once I get to the track, you would think I could breathe a little easier and settle into a comfortable slumber. Not exactly. Friday nights before an event are usually the worst. I lie awake thinking about the coming weekend, everything I have to do and when. Saturday nights are better because I’m so exhausted from racing all day. A full belly and a few beers from the Saturday night barbecue certainly help.

The days following the event are a little better, but invariably there will be bouts of restlessness. I’ll often figure out a particular corner that’s been giving me trouble after midnight and six months before I’ll be returning to that track.

Even in the offseason, sleep can be elusive. With all my winter projects going, it’s hard to stop thinking about them. Did I remember to order those parts? How can I make more power within the rules? The silence of the night is a fine time to get some thinking done, for good or ill.

Then, of course, there’s Speed News, a source of great joy, pride — and restless nights, especially if I get behind in the work. It not only can lead to a loss of sleep, but also weird and somewhat clinical dreams once I get to sleep.

The most frequent dream is where I’m back in college as an undergraduate. I’m walking around campus toward the humanities building — sometimes naked if things are really dire — to take a test for which I’m wholly unprepared. In the dream, I’m nearing commencement, and I need to pass the test to graduate. All the usual dream hallmarks are there. I’m me, but I’m not me. Friends are there, but they’re somehow changed and the campus always looks just a little bit different from real life.

When I awaken, I’ll tell my wife about the dream and she always points out the obvious: “You’re running behind on production again, aren’t you?”

The days after those odd dreams are usually productive because I quickly write down a punch list, adding to it as thoughts occur to me throughout the day, and get to work. That’s about where I am right now.

We’ve just awakened the Speed News beast from its winter nap. It’s time to start producing some pages worthy of your attention, and we’ll be doing our best to make it as good as it can be. Sleep will come eventually.

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