PRUETT: The fever dream

Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

PRUETT: The fever dream

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PRUETT: The fever dream

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I had the wildest fever dream last night.

I dreamed that a racing champion grew dissatisfied with the multi-year contract he signed. His anger compounded by the day when his team wouldn’t throw away that contract and replace it with one that offered more money.

So in this dream, the champion driver and his management team, which I’d never heard of beforehand, kept pushing for a big salary upgrade because the original contract they arranged for their guy was abysmal. One of the worst in motor racing. No options were included to renegotiate if their guy won a lot of races. Or a championship. And that became a problem because he did win a lot of races, and a championship.

As the dream went on, the champion’s current team held firm and insisted the contract he signed should be honored. That news didn’t sit well with them, so next, the champion’s managers devised a plan to start shopping their guy to other teams, all while he was under contract with the team he no longer liked, in an effort to find someone who would open up the bank vault and make it rain. So they brought a proposition to someone who really likes to sign drivers and, by chance, that person wasn’t a fan of the champion’s employer.

The next part is one of a few times where the dream went off the rails. The champion’s managers brought their client’s contract to the alternate employer, who would later refute having seen it or been aware of its contents. In meeting with the alternate employer, the managers pointed to a clause they thought could be used to break the champion free from the grips of the team he wanted to leave.

The upcoming aspect of the hallucination gets a little fuzzy, but it went something like this: If the champion kept demanding a new contract from his current team with the raise he’d been calling for since he became a champion, and his team finally relented and presented him with that new contract, he would reject it. And he’d do that because there was clause in his contract saying that if he rejected the new offer, it would trigger a scenario where he could negotiate with other teams. And with a new ability to negotiate elsewhere, the champion could sign with the alternate employer who said he’d get to drive all kinds of cool cars.

Again, this area of the dream was a bit hazy, but I think what happened next is the champion’s current team, which wasn’t aware of the contract-rejection plot, gave in and was prepared to put a new and more lucrative contract in front of their driver. But then, as this fever dream continued, the champion’s current team got wind of the plot and pulled the offer from the table, neutralizing the breakout scheme and leaving the champion in a really bad position.

I think I also remember a part of the dream where the champion and the alternate employer went ahead and signed a contract anyways, but with so many people signed to the alternate employer, it’s hard to recall, in vivid detail, who did what and when.

Nonetheless, the champion’s managers were successful. Their guy got a new contract and would get a healthy salary from the alternate employer once the season was over. But there was a problem. Their champion still had a contract with the current team and the current team had an option on him it could execute for the following season. And for another season after that.

As the dream went on, the champion showed up to take part in a celebration organized by his current team. The team had reached a huge milestone by winning something like a half-thousand races and organized a big lunch at its shop for all of the crew members and its drivers. And at this celebration, those drivers, including the champion, went in front of the assembled team and spoke about how much they loved being there and how they wanted to continue racing together for many years to come. And it was there where the champion was told by his team that they would be keeping him for another year.

The dream took another hard turn where the day after that super happy celebration, the team let everyone know they’d be holding onto the champion, but then the champion let everyone know he didn’t want to be with the same people he’d just said a bunch of nice things about the day before.

The problem with dreams is that the details are usually hazy. Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

And then the alternate employer let everyone know they’d signed the champion, and that’s where I recall being highly confused in the dream. The champion got super mad at his current team and told everyone he didn’t say the things the team put in their announcement. But, and it’s embarrassing how much of the dream was obscured by the fever, did the champion’s managers actually receive those quotes from the team and see them before the release went out? I’m struggling to fully recall on that one, but it’s a hard maybe.

And despite the champion and his managers summoning a lot of sound and fury about the contract extension it didn’t want from the current team, it wasn’t going away.

So then things got weird again because the champion was loaded with confidence — truly laden with a bold notion — that he’d out-witted his current team and would soon be leaving for the alternate employer, even though he might have been in the minority in that belief.

And then his current team did something that could only happen in a dream, which was to sue the champion while the champion was still driving for them. A lot of time passed in the dream where a bunch of legal stuff happened and I think the champion’s alternate employer even stepped in to pay the exorbitant lawyer bills the champion probably couldn’t afford. The case took yet another unforeseen turn where everybody tried to resolve the matter without going to court.

But that, too, went in an unpredictable direction where meeting after meeting made no progress. And talk about craziness, because in this dream, the champion’s current team put a ludicrous buyout number on the board — I think it was $20,000,000 — which the champion and the alternate employer would never pay. And that came across like a message was being sent by the current employer to the champion and the alternate employer that this wasn’t going to end anytime soon, or at least not without a lot of pain and sacrifice.

And so, as I started to slowly wake and the last vestiges of the dream played out, the champion, who was once bullish about his future and brimming with confidence about leaving for the alternate employer, found himself standing alone on an island with no way to get back home.

The alternate employer decided it wasn’t worth continuing to back the champion’s bid to leave. Not right now, at least. So the champion had to decide whether it was smarter to spend the next year or two of his life stranded on that island, or if he should climb into the life raft his current employers sent to rescue him from the tenuous situation.

He climbed into the raft, and that’s where the dream reached its final act.

Once the champion got back on dry land, he came to terms with his current employer, got more money, and would be allowed to try out some of the cool cars the alternate employer enticed him with near the beginning of the dream. And the current employers got to keep the champion they really liked until the situation turned ugly.

It seemed like a move made out of necessity by the champion and the current team, and not so much because everything was smoothed over and forgotten.

I hate dreams like these. They might fill your night with all kinds of insane twists and turns, but in the end, they feel more like a nightmare. All those hours spent asleep, stuck in a story that did nothing more than return to right where it began after many relationships were stressed and a lot of time and money was wasted.

I’m so happy this was nothing more than a dream because there’s no way any of this could have actually taken place. Pure fantasy, I’m relieved to say. And for the first time in a long while, I woke up this morning and all felt right within my world of racing.

MX-5 Cup | Round 12 – VIR

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