As I write this, I’m numb. We all are. Earlier today, myself and the Inside Track / Motorama family learned that Rob Morton passed away yesterday (August 9). It was a few days after he suffered a devastating stroke. And that came on the heels of major surgery almost two months ago. Rob was a very private person, and didn’t want to make a big deal out of what he was going through.
Most of us have known Rob and worked with him since 1991. He was one of the four original partners when we left our old gig and launched Inside Track Motorsport News, in 1997. Rob is listed in our masthead as our National Sales Manager, but we’re a small crew and we all wear a lot of hats.
For many years, Rob was also pretty much the public face of Inside Track as he and his wife, Fran, would set up the promotional tent behind the grandstands, at the tracks, to sell subscriptions, single issues, and to chat with the magazine’s readers and advertisers.
When the rest of us had an opportunity to do a shift in the tent, we’d always be asked, “Where is Rob?” and “How is Rob doing?” It was amazing how many people he connected with and made an impression upon. Everyone loved Rob.
Rob was also a great salesman. He was successful because he forged personal relationships with his clients and made sure we did our best to work hard for them and their businesses.
But more than that, Rob was a very nice man. He always had a big smile and was genuinely happy to see old friends, and to make new ones, whether it was on the hill at Delaware Speedway or Mosport – where we launched Inside Track on Labour Day 1997 – or at the Motorama Show Office desk, or at our booth at the PRI show, in Indy.
Not long after we started Inside Track, we all attended Rob’s 50th birthday. He was always older than the rest of us, but you could never tell. He was tough and hated when he had to let on that he was feeling out of sorts.
In recent years, he and Fran moved to Prince Edward County. We didn’t see him as often as the days when we’d all be in the office together, but that was OK.
Because their sons were starting their own families, and he and Fran were having such a great time being grandparents.
And although he was over 70 and busy with his growing clan, Rob still wanted to stay involved in Inside Track and Motorama. He kept his key accounts – you know who you are – and we all chatted on the phone regularly and via email.
The pandemic has been a difficult time for us – as it has for many people – and it kept us from spending more time with Rob, that we’ll never be able to recover. I know we’re all sad about that.
As with anyone who passes suddenly, we’re relieved that Rob didn’t suffer after his stroke. But we sure will miss him and we’ll always regret that we didn’t get a chance to say a proper goodbye to our great partner, co-worker and friend. On behalf of all of us, we love you, Rob.
Our deepest condolences to Fran, Chris, Craig and your entire family. Thank you for sharing him with us for the past 30 years.
And just days before Rob’s passing, we were also crushed to hear about the passing of Nancy Hopkins, the wife of another of our founding partners, John Hopkins.
John and Nancy have lived near Tweed, Ontario and have courageously fought through recurrences of Nancy’s cancer for several years. We are so sad for both of them, and their families.
Prior to this week, I had planned to write about fans returning to the tracks and a possible light at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic, as it relates to Canadian racing. But today, that takes a backseat as we deal with the losses in our family.
We’ll be back on track for next issue.
We’ll pin a post about Rob and Nancy at the top of the Inside Track Facebook page, for a while, if you’d like to offer some comments. Thank you.