Night Driving

Driving is simply better at night.


That may be a surprising opinion given that the photo attached to this post is of the affectionately named 'Rory' - my Mk2 MX5 more suited to the track than any public highway - but it's an opinion that I've actually held for many years and continue to hold to this day.


Of course, there are the obvious reasons that driving at night is more enjoyable. Traffic is the main one, especially so now that we seem to live in a country where you could be forgiven for thinking that cars could outnumber people - it certainly seems like it when you take a look out onto the M25 during rush hour, immediately the reputation it has for becoming the UK's largest car park coming to light.


There are mechanical benefits as well. During the summer, the cooler night temperatures often suit high performance cars far better, especially those depending on a form of forced induction of air to generate their power figures.


Both are good points but I wholeheartedly believe the night time has more to it than simply a lack of tailbacks and some cooler air.


The darkness is, to many people, something to be afraid of. Spatial awareness drops off a cliff once daylight subsides. The night has a compelling ability to change the shape of things as moonlight claws through cloud and mist to attempt an illumination of the environment you find yourself in. It is, in many ways, scary.


And that forms most of the appeal when it comes to driving at night.


That sense of being alone is amplified by a lack of vision that comes in the darkness. One can become more focused. More focused means you notice more. Noticing more means you engage more. Engaging more means that you enjoy more, as all of a sudden you're sharing a moment with nothing but the car and the darkness. The fear that comes, regardless of how much you try to hide from it and convince people that it doesn't have an effect on you, raises your senses and your heart rate. All of a sudden, what may have been a chilled out drive on a sunny afternoon can become a rush, as you navigate roads that are left unrecognisable by the heavy glow of the moon.


A big part of spirited driving is to be at one with your surroundings - in the day, when you can see the road, see the verges, see the obstacles, this is easy. At night, when you have no vision outside of the beam of your headlights, this is near impossible. But near impossible doesn't mean you can't become one with your environment, it just means you have to work a damn sight harder.


And the fact you have to work so much harder to complete a fast drive at night time means that, once you've finished and gotten yourself home, it feels so much more rewarding - and that, after all, is why we do what we do.



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