UPDATE (5/22): According to NHRA rider Steve Johnson, his lead technician, Ervin “Jock” Allen opened his eyes at UAB hospital Thursday morning as he battles COVID-19. He was also able to squeeze the nurse’s finger and move his leg when asked, Johnson told CBS 42.

The positive development is welcome news for Allen’s loved ones and friends. Johnson added that is lead technician still has a long way to go in his recovery. After talking with Jock Allen’s doctors, Johnson posts updates on his friends progress on his Facebook page.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help with medical expenses.

ORIGINAL STORY: IRONDALE, Ala. (WIAT) — The lead technician for a professional drag racing team in the Birmingham area continues to recover from COVID-19 after almost two weeks, friends said.

Steve Johnson is a rider in the NHRA, the National Hot Rod Association. His team builds their motorcycles and maintains them to race.

“We go from 0 to 60 miles an hour in 1 second and we travel a quarter of a mile in 6 seconds. The front wheel on our motorcycle is in the air for about half the distance, about an 1/8th of a mile and at the finish line we are going about 200 miles an hour,” said Johnson.

Behind every fast hot rod is a skilled technician. For Johnson, that person is Ervin “Jock” Allen.

“I don’t have kids so Jock is as close as I’ve got to that,” said Johnson.

Johnson said Jock Allen grew up in Walker County and developed a love for motorcycles from his father.

Jock Allen later went to a technical school, Motorcycle Mechanics Institute, to be a specialized professional. Johnson said Jock is proof that a desk or computer job is not for everyone.

“He embodies young people waking up every morning and going to work with excitement and being able to buy a house. He’s got a fiance, all of these things represent America,” said Johnson.

For the past month or so, the team that is used to speed has had to slam on the brakes.

Jock contracted COVID-19 after his mother, Candace, got the virus. She works in healthcare, Johnson said.

“His mother, who is on the front line, got the virus, and tested positive. Jock was in a transition of moving out of his moms, into a house that he had bought and he got the virus,” said Johnson.
Jock Allen was admitted to UAB hospital after he tested positive. He’s been there since early May.

“Now he is got a ventilator in him and he’s at UAB for 20 days. This is real. This is absolutely real,” said Johnson.

Loved ones told CBS 42 that Jock is making progress. They’re hopeful doctors can remove his tube soon and ease sedation.

“Every day at the hospital, UAB does a great job of letting us know what is going on and as he is getting better, his blood gases are good, his kidney function, his liver function, that’s doing good. His lungs are working so now it is to extubate, that is what we want. We want to pull the tube out so he can start moving forward and a lot of stuff has to happen for that and I had no idea,” said Johnson.

While Jock Allen has made progress, Johnson said his mother did not make it.

“She was really turning a corner, but we lost her. On the 18th of May 2020, Jock (and his family}, lost his mom,” said Johnson.

As loved ones grieve for the family, they pray Jock will have a fast track on a long road to recovery. Racing begins again in early August. Johnson is ready for the healthy return of his friend, who has become more like his family.

“Now it’s just like I want to help to glue it back together and it is hard to do it from here,” Johnson continued, “I know when Jock gets better, he’ll be a proponent of understanding this thing, wear your mask, don’t give up, go out and work, but be cognizant, understand what is going on. Be educated.”

Some of Jock Allen’s siblings also tested positive for the virus. Those family members are in quarantine recovering.

Stay with CBS 42 for updates on Jock Allen’s recovery. Loved ones have been using the hashtag #inspireDon’tJudge to share words of encouragement for Jock.