Therapeutic: Mike Murphy, Rob Summers Looking To Racing For Healing From Traumatic Last Two Months

KLM Motorsports team owner Mike Murphy (left) and driver Rob Summers (right) (Photo: Courtesy of Kelly Murphy)

For many teams on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour having the series return to action for the Wade Cole Memorial 133 presented by Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Repair at Myrtle Beach Speedway Saturday will mean being afforded the opportunity to return to a small slice of normalcy in a world turned upside down for most since early March by the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

For KLM Motorsports team owner Mike Murphy and his driver Rob Summers, getting to race will not only mean the chance to get back to doing what they love to do, but will also serve as a type of therapy in putting a harrowing and emotional last two months behind for both.

On March 26th the 63-year old Murphy was admitted to the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. He was released on April 13 after spending 18 days in isolation.

“I’m good again, just taking things nice and easy,” Murphy said. “It gives you a different outlook on life. You better make the best of it.” 

Six days after Murphy was released from the hospital, on April 19,  Summers’ father, Hoosier Tire East founder and owner Bob Summers, passed away. 

“This deal has just been, I can’t even explain it what all this has been like,” Summers said. “You can’t even ever imagine something like this happening in a million years. It’s just been a nightmare. For me, getting back in the car, it’s going to be like going to my therapist. I just want to get back behind the wheel and just get back normality.” 

Murphy said he has no idea how he contracted COVID-19. 

“I don’t know,” Murphy said. “You meet so many people and you’re in so many different places. It did scare me. When you go up to the hospital first and you pull up in your car and they take your blood pressure and temperature and all that. Then they put me in a wheelchair and they told my wife they’d be in touch with her, and that was it. I didn’t see her again until I got out of the hospital. I didn’t see anybody.”

Murphy said his only contact with family was through electronic devices.

“You’re in a room on your own,” Murphy said. “You didn’t see anybody but nurses or doctors that came in. They were all really really good. They were all encouraging. It was like having your own cheerleading team. I’ve got to hand it to them. They were so good. 

“They gave me that hydroxychloroquine. They asked me if I would try that and it worked. I took it for six days and I got better.” 

Summers and Murphy were readying for their fifth season together on the Whelen Modified Tour before COVID-19 outbreak shutdowns wreaked havoc on the original 2020 Whelen Modified Tour schedule. Of the first seven scheduled events, six have been postponed indefinitely and one – at Martsinville Speedway – has been cancelled. NASCAR also was already forced to cancel a July event for the series at Iowa Speedway. 

NASCAR announced last Friday that they would add the new season opening event to the schedule at Myrtle Beach. Since that announcement some top level teams with the series have announced they would not participate for various reasons, most citing the reduced purse, travel and lack of a plan going forward for the series after the Myrtle Beach race. 

Murphy said there was initially some debate amongst his team about making the trip to Myrtle Beach. 

“I said ‘We work on the cars to go race them’” Murphy said. “We only race on the [Whelen Modified Tour]. If they run a race we go to it. If they don’t we don’t race.  We’ve had the cars ready to go and then there’s been nothing. Now we will go race.” 

Said Summers: “I’m totally psyched for the opportunity to go to Myrtle Beach. I know a lot of people aren’t happy about the purse getting cut and all that. But there’s no fans, limited people going, they’re doing what they can do. 

“Murph is a racer, I knew he’d want to go. Now, if it came down to a deal where this is the normality that we’d have to go down south every week I don’t know that we would do it all the time because of the expenses.” 

Because of continued government restrictions in Connecticut, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania it’s unclear when the series will get back to competing at any venues on the original schedule. For Summers, who operates Hoosier Tire East, the company that supplies tires for the series at most Northeast venues, the shutdowns are hitting hard for business.

“I just don’t know how much longer we go losing the season in the Northeast,” said Summers, an 18-year veteran of the Whelen Modified Tour. “That’s the part that scares me. And with the [Whelen Modified Tour], if it turned into some kind of southern tour I don’t know how many guys would actually be able to afford to keep doing it. We can just keep hoping things start to change up here.”

With teams restricted to bringing only eight people into the track Saturday, Murphy said he has made the decision to stay home in Cottage Valley, N.Y. He’s waiting to hear what NASCAR will offer for possible broadcast options for the event at Myrtle Beach. 

“Hopefully they will broadcast it,” Murphy said. “They said they’re working on it. I definitely want to be able to watch.” 


  1. Very nice even handed coverage relating the emotion from both side of the decision.
    A lot of suspense. Clicking on RaceDayCt and waiting for Shawn to drop the hammer. Race canceled for whatever reason. No word on TV or streaming. Would they really have a race without some way to show it to fans? Tic, toc the suspense mounts.

  2. I’m stunned.

    An owner that suffered through COVID-19 is going to send his team out to Myrtle Beach.

    Let’s hope more teams don’t commit and this get’s cancelled, for safety reasons.

  3. getserious says

    When speaking of NASCAR / WMT someone says “…they’re doing what they can do.”
    And why would NASCAR do that?
    There are no paying fans, so they’re not making money….. Are they just generously staging an event, to give the teams a chance to do what they love? I’m missing something here. Maybe one of the NASCAR shills that populate these racedayCT comments can explain this. I have heard that there are legal and financial aspects to getting at least ONE 2020 race in to not have to refund money, not only to members, but corporate sponsors. I suppose that makes some sense. AMy logical explanations are appreciated.

  4. Goodfella OMG hydroxychloroquine

  5. Racer, hydroxychloroquine didn’t kill everyone.

  6. Thank goodness the doctor gave him hydroxychloroquine and it saved his life. My hats off to the medical team who prescribed the drug. Somewhere in one of these past posts someone, I forget now who bashed a certain president for suggesting it may work.

    Mike Murphy is living proof it does work. God bless you Mike!

  7. chicken coop says

    but, but, but Hydroxychloroquine is evil, right wing, propaganda, and not science!! Because comedians, and media say so!!! and, and, Orange man bad!!! And we must shut down the United States, completely, everyone must stay locked inside their home, except of course for democrat governors, who should be allowed to go sailing, golfing, ect.. And we must believe everything the media says, because orange man bad, and everyone who disagrees is RACIST!!! and, and, and, racing is bad for the environment, and should be banned, because that is the only thing that will make the media, and their sheep happy…

  8. Earl, testing of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 is being stopped around the world because it harms and kills more than it benefits. Mr. Murphy was lucky. 🍀 You won’t hear that on Hannity, Carlson or Pirro.

  9. Billy Parker, I mean “Chicken Coop”,
    I do think it’s funny how wherever there’s a thread on Facebook trashing me or this site you’re always there chiming in and telling everyone everything here is garbage and fake news and that nobody should believe anything they read here. And yet you certainly leave a lot of comments for someone who tells people all over Facebook that you never read any of the garbage made up stories here.

  10. Plugs 2020 says

    Oh now it’s, the hydroxychloroquine didn’t kill Murphy because the luck of the Irish. Probably should’ve contacted dafella first.

  11. I can appreciate it’s been a rocky road for the big guy but is making a hydroxychloroquine a reason for celebration.
    First it was prescribed for patients in tough shape with Covid19, appeared to work in some cases and that’s why the president jumped on it. Murphy was one of those people apparently. Touting it as a preventative drug was the issue. Large numbers of people taking a drug with no data showing that it is effective to prevent Covid19, putting healthy people at risk for vision and heart trouble and creating shortages for people that use the drug for other conditions where it has proven to be effective was the issue.
    While hydroxychloroquine.has no support for use as a preventative and is losing favor and being banned for use even in emergency situation remdesivir has been approved for use as as emergency treatment, manufacturing is ramping up and it is being supplied to hospitals.
    If you support Trump and really want to gloat your best bet at this stage is to point to OddsShark that still has Trump the favorite to win the election.
    Still 70% chance of rain and thunder showers. Rob’s therapy may have to be put on hold. The good news is the trip to the therapist may be considerably shorter.

  12. Goodfella would you be so kind to provide links that hydroxy was listed on death certificates as cause of death? Or will you avoid this question? Trump

  13. knuckles mahoney says

    Dareal is correct. Hydroxychloroquine is contraindicated for the treatment of Covid-19. At least at my hospital system. It really showed little to no benefit. When used properly and with proper guidance, it can be safe. Just have to know how to use it. The fact that Trump was advised to take it prophylactically is asonishing. There is absolutely no prophylactic indication for it. The fact that Mr. Murphy got better, for which i am very happy for him, was probably just coincidental, and he would likely have gotten better anyway.

  14. knuckles is correct.

  15. The problem with the comments section is it’s so unequivocal on topics that have nuance.
    What Fauci actually said.
    “National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci on Wednesday became the first Trump administration official to say definitively that hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment for the coronavirus, based on the available data.”

    “Based on the available data”. That doesn’t mean it has never worked nor that it’s didn’t work for Murphy.

    It’s losing favor world wide because of the benefit to risk ratio and the emergence of better therapeutic alternatives. It could have killed some people and cured others. Murphy may have been one of those it helped.

  16. Racer, I can not release that information due to privacy regulations. You will have to contact each family individually.

  17. Dareal what kind of BS post was that? You don’t know the answer, you will never know the answer, so where do you come off saying you can’t release that info due to HIPPA. You are the unequivocal king of BS………..

  18. Earl, you of all people should know a profoundly stupid question deserves a profoundly stupid response.

    That you took my answer seriously demonstrates how smart you are not.

  19. Plugs 2020 says

    Dr. : “Mr. Dafella, to treat the corona we’d like to administer hydroxychloroquine. What it is.. ” Dafella: whoa hold it right there doc, I know what it is and everything else you’re about to tell me so save your breath. Ask anyone at racedayct. They all know what I know and that basically means everything” Dr.: “But it’s possible that it will save your life.” Dafella: “The answer is no doc.” Dr.: “But why my Dafella?” Dafella: “Trump”

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