Hoosier Tire East Owner Bob Summers Passes

Rob Summers (left) and Bob Summers (right) (Photo: Hoosier Tire East)

Longtime short track racing supporter Bob Summers passed away Sunday. 

Summers, who founded and owned Hoosier Tire East of Manchester, was 83 years old. 

Summers’ company has been a cornerstone of the Northeast short track racing scene for decades. 

Summers is the father of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour veteran Rob Summers. 

Bob Summers began working in the tire industry in 1955 with Firestone in Indianapolis. While with Firestone for about 25 years, Summers worked with many of the legends of motorsports during the era including A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and the Unser family, along with having deep involvement in the developmental days of NASCAR’s Grand National series racing. 

Bob Summers left Firestone in 1981 and went into business as a Hoosier distributor, starting Hoosier Tire East in Manchester.

“I hung around racing a lot as a kid and I hung around Firestone a lot and when one of the guys quit, I took his place and the rest is history,” Bob Summers said in 2015 of his career in the tire industry. “Firestone started phasing out of short track racing and I left in 1981 and then a couple of weeks later I got a call from Bob Newton [of Hoosier Tire] and we made a deal that made me a distributor. It’s been a great relationship, Hoosier has great people and they’ve done a lot for me and I’ve done a lot for them also.” 

Hoosier Tire East is the official tire supplier for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, The Tri-Track Open Modified Series, Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway. The business also provides tires for a number of other racing divisions and sanctioning bodies across the Northeast.

“A legend, a giant,” Thompson Speedway general manager and former New London-Waterford Speedbowl owner Terry Eames said. “Bob and I did business, but more than that we are friends. He was one of the first people to embrace my being in this business. I first met him in 1994. I hadn’t even taken over the Speedbowl yet. I handled some business between the former promoters and Hoosier Tire East. The whole family, I just can’t say enough good about them and it showed Bob’s leadership as a gentleman and a great businessman. He had a great firm to business with because of his way. He’ll be missed by thousands of us.” 

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  1. Truly a great loss to the sport

  2. Sharpie Fan says

    Thoughts and prayers for Rob and the entire Hoosier Tire East family.

  3. What’s to mourn. The guy had a great business where he could combine his livelihood with his passion and do it with his family. Well into his 80’s.. His life should be celebrated as one well lived.

  4. Dick William's and Racing Guys says

    Bob Summers,aka Hawkeye to his old friends.He was a man of integrity,honesty and friendship.An astute businessman who created an amazing team at Hoosier Tire East. Condolences to Rob,Dan and crew. R.I.P.dear friend.

  5. Thoughts and prayers to Rob Summers, and the Summers family, as well as to all at HTE. Bob was a great guy. Back in the day my crew chief and I would go to HTE to get our tires. Bob was always more than helpful, and never in a rush to see us leave. He will be sadly missed.

  6. Bobby was one of our sport’s best friends, and helped so many racers through the years.
    When John and I bought the fuel business, Bobby was a great help with the logistics of serving tracks and building relationships far and wide every week.
    Thanks Bobby, for your longtime help and friendship. Condolences to Rob, the Summers family, and everyone at HTE.

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