For over 30 years, Robert Turner has had a connection with Ace Speedway, the only racetrack in Alamance County. He attended races as a kid and is a multiple-time track champion, most recently in 2005. Now, Turner is hoping to enter an unfamiliar space, as he looks to win a seat on the Alamance County Board of Commissioners.
“At where I am at in life, at my age and what I’ve seen, I just want to get involved,” Turner said.
Turner gave up his racing career to buy Ace Speedway with his son Jason in 2017. He said they bought the struggling track to preserve it for the local racing community.
“Had we not bought it at the time that we did, you'd be looking at either a housing development or an overgrown racetrack or a farm field,” Turner said. “We basically gave up our passion to be sure they could still enjoy theirs.”
If elected, Turner believes his non-traditional political background could be beneficial for the people of Alamance County because he said the problems affecting the county affect him too.
“I’m a blue collar worker, I work on cars for a living. I work with my hands, I get dirty. I’m just like the people that come to this racetrack,” Turner said. “I’m the same guy you see at the grocery store. I’m the same guy you see at the bank. I’m the same guy you see at the hardware store. And I see the problems they do because they affect me.”
Gaining interest in politics
Turner said he did not have much interest in politics until 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting the operations at Ace Speedway. The track was shut down twice by the state of North Carolina in the summer of 2020 due to violations of the state’s mass gathering limits.
Fighting for Ace to remain operational during the early days of the pandemic inspired Turner to enter a political race.
“Once anything happens one time, if somebody doesn’t stand up, or if the American people don’t stand up and push for what is right, then it’s just going to get worse,” Turner said.
For Turner, the campaign process has presented a steep learning curve, but he is confident he can learn the position quickly if elected.
“Anything I do, I put a lot of effort into, and I’m going to succeed at it one way or the other,” Turner said. “I’m ready for it and always seek a new challenge, something to conquer, and this was just another one of those.”
Hopes for Alamance County
Turner said two of his main priorities if elected would be to provide more support for law enforcement and first responders and improve K-12 education.
As a business owner himself, Turner said he would also like to help small business owners who saw their businesses close or that are still struggling to cope with the economic impacts of the pandemic.
“There’s a lot of people that invested not so much money, but years and years of their life to have a small business, and it’s gone,” Turner said.
Turner said he still has a lot to learn about how to address some of the issues facing Alamance County, including inflation and the tax rate, but said he would be excited to work with the other board members to find solutions that work best for the people of Alamance County.
“That’s what I look forward to the most is representing everyone and trying to put everyone’s best interests first,” Turner said.