NASCAR fan and ER Nurse Michael Palmer: ‘I want to remain positive during this time’

Courtesy Photo: Michael Palmer

By: Sarah Handy, Staff Writer

As COVID-19 hits not only the United States but the entire world, the men and women working the front lines have been at the forefront of it all. Doctors and Nurses alike have been putting their own lives on the line to care for those in need.

This includes one of NASCAR’s and Jimmie Johnson’s biggest fans, Michigan’s Michael Palmer. Palmer is an ER Nurse at Henry Ford who has been working tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic. For anyone who follows him on social media, he has a positive mindset and that hasn’t changed with this pandemic.

In recent weeks, Palmer has left his followers with a positive message most nights, sometimes even a video on Instagram.

Palmer weighed in on where the idea came from for the positive tweets and videos, saying it came down to seeing too many negative posts.

“I have been seeing too many healthcare professionals posting pics and videos of how bad it is,” said Palmer. “I want to remain positive during this time and I wanted people to see that an ER Nurse who is on the front-lines is smiling and has his thumb up or arm and arm with his coworkers letting everybody know, it’s going to be okay, I promise.”

His Son Michael 

Despite the positive words he’s known for, Palmer’s personal life is struggling as many of ours are. He has only seen his nine-year old son, Michael for one lone hour in the last four weeks, six feet apart at that. 

(Photo Courtesy of Michael Palmer)

“That day meant the world to me. I was feeling very down and defeated,” said Palmer. “I was bringing him his Easter basket along with some Harvick surprise gifts because I had to work on Easter. When I saw him, it was the most joy I had felt in a month. To see his smile, and hear his voice, it was all I needed.”

“He was so happy to see me and see the Harvick gifts. We watched the virtual race at Bristol together (6 ft apart of course) and we talked a lot.” Palmer said his son told him he understands why his dad can’t see him, saying “I know what you have to do dad. You are helping everybody with this virus and keeping people safe. You are like one of the Avengers.” 

Palmer said he almost cried hearing that because his son said it with such honesty and innocence. “I knew that things were gonna be okay that day.”

Media Rounds 

Palmer has been making the ‘media rounds’ as of late, with some other outlets doing stories on him, and he also appeared on Mike Tirico’s NBC Sports “Lunch Talk” on Wednesday. 

What seemed to start out as a normal interview for Palmer turned into the ultimate surprise when seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion and Palmer’s favorite driver, Jimmie Johnson joined the broadcast.

Kickin’ the Tires asked Palmer if the other day still seems surreal to him. 

“It still seems very surreal. I haven’t had a lot of time to process it,” said Palmer. “After the interview was over, I answered some social media messages and then I went to work a 12-hour midnight shift from 6 PM-6 AM. After I was off of work, I had a radio interview on a local station at 6:30 AM and then I went to bed until 1 PM. I had to wake up to do another local radio show. After that I did a FaceTime interview for Fox 2 News Detroit that aired last night.”

“I did end up watching it with my son together through FaceTime. He was on his iPad and I was on mine. It was a moment I will never forget,” expressed Palmer. “Today (Friday) I had a few interviews and tomorrow (Saturday) I have one, so after that I think I will have some time to just slow down and take it all in (laughs).” 

Unique PPE Gear 

Palmer’s PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) at the hospital is quite unique as well. It has Johnson’s number on it, along with MAVERICK and some racing stickers. 

So how exactly did that idea come about? Well, I asked him. 

“The PPE nicknames was an idea of my coworkers,” said Palmer. “I said, well let’s do Top Gun. Of course, I had to have the 48 on there.”

(Photo Courtesy of Michael Palmer)

That’s not all though. Palmer tweeted back in March about one of his Jimmie Johnson Ally Racing shirts he had been wearing everyday underneath his scrubs and hazmat gear.

So, is he still rocking it? 

“(Laughs), I can say that Ally shirt has taken a break. I couldn’t keep wearing it every shift but there are numerous Jimmie Johnson shirts or NASCAR shirts that I wear every shift,” stated Palmer. “They stay underneath, close to my heart because it is something that I love and makes me think of my son.”

NASCAR and Bristol Motor Speedway 

Palmer and his son are huge NASCAR fans. The first race he ever attended was the 2010 DAYTONA 500 with his own dad. He stated it was also known as the infamous “Pothole 500.” (laughs). 

The first race him and his son Michael attended together was on Father’s Day in 2017 at their home track of Michigan International Speedway. 

The two are planning on attending the NASCAR events at Bristol Motor Speedway come September. If you follow him on social media, you know that Santa brought Mikey those tickets.

Jimmie Johnson mentioned on the broadcast on Wednesday that he heard Bristol may be a track Palmer and his family would be interested in attending.

With that said, Johnson went on to further extended an offer to Palmer and his family to come to Bristol. That includes all expenses paid, including being an honorary Ally Pit Crew Member and the full VIP red carpet treatment. “Anything and everything that we have access too,” said Johnson. 

But that’s not all. Palmer’s son Mikey is a huge fan of Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick. Harvick will also jump on board and meet with them at the track. 

His son was watching from his mom’s house, and Palmer said he is so pumped about going to Bristol. “He is so grateful to Jimmie and Kevin and all who are doing this. His son said, “Well we have to do something nice for them after this.”

Palmer himself was left speechless, saying ” My son really likes Harvick a lot and because of my son’s like for Harvick, I have really begun to like Harvick,” he said. “My son has a few pictures with Harvick from some last races and Harvick has been nothing but kind. He’s even taken time to stop and have a conversation with Mikey.”

(Photo Courtesy of Michael Palmer)

Getting Through Each Day 

Unless you work the front lines, in all reality it’s hard to know what people like Michael are dealing with on a day to day basis. After all, they are at the forefront of it all.

He shared with Kickin’ the Tires what helps him get through each day. 

“Each and every day, I pray,” said Palmer. “I know that each day that passes is a day closer to this being over. I think a lot about my son and all the good times we have had together and the good times we are going to have. There are times where things slow down a little at work, or I have a break and I will FaceTime him at work just for a little more motivation.”

(Photo Courtesy of Michael Palmer)

If you would like to follow Michael on Twitter or Instagram, you can connect with him below: 

Instagram: @mikey2082

Twitter: @Mikey2082

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