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Turnbull Has Chance to 3-Peat at Seitz Memorial

Aaron Turnbull (21) edged AJ Diemel for the Seitz Memorial Win in 2020. (Photo by Mike Spieker/Speedway Shots)

The 15th annual John Seitz Memorial Late Model special is set for Friday and Saturday at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks. And a late model driver has a chance to do something no other driver has done — win three in a row.

That driver is Aaron Turnbull of Estevan, Sask., who won the Seitz Memorial in 2019 and 2020. Turnbull was not the first two-time winner of the Seitz Memorial — AJ Diemel and Brad Seng have accomplished that as well — but he is the first to win the event in back-to-back years. He plans to be back to defend his title at River Cities this week. If he could pull off the win on Saturday he’d be the first driver to win the Seitz three times — and three times in a row.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Turnbull said on Wednesday night. “The competition is as stiff as it has ever been. We’ll try our best. If we could do that, it would be unbelievable; two is already unbelievable.”

The Seitz Memorial has become a premier Late Model event in Wissota country and has turned into a fun multi-day event. I hope that amid all the racing we never forget to remember the driver who the race is named after — John Seitz. Seitz died unexpectedly in Feb. 2007 and was a terrific driver in the super stock and late model classes.

The late model winner gets $9,200. Last year, Turnbull walked away with more than $10,000 after winning the $920-to-win dash on Friday and the 92-lap feature the next day. He’s found a comfort level at the 3/10 mile bullring in Grand Forks.

“I really like the track; it’s one of my favorite places to race,” Turnbull said. “I’m don’t race on a lot of big tracks. I enjoy the smaller tracks. There’s something about the banking there, the way the track gets wide in that long race and you can search around and find different lines. Between those things it suits my driving style. The shape, the banking, works very good with the setup we’ve been running on the car.”

The 34-year-old Turnbull hasn’t raced much the past two years. The US/Canada border closure because of the Covid-19 pandemic has limited his options. He has raced other drivers’ IMCA Modifieds on a few occasions this year.

“The border being closed is making it tough,” Turnbull said. “There’s not a lot of racetracks real close to us on this side of the border.”

Turnbull started racing at age 14, with help from his father, Ed, a long-time modified racer. After two years in the hobby stocks, Aaron Turnbull moved into a modified.

“I learned a lot from him,” Turnbull said. “I wouldn’t have got into (racing) without him.”

Turnbull was a more than formidable foe in the IMCA Modifieds for several years — he won the 2013 Dakota Classic Mod Tour title — but in 2015 he decided to venture into late model racing.

In 2019, he out dueled AJ Diemel, Shane Edginton and Don Shaw to win his first Seitz Memorial title.

“I remember battling with Shane, and taking it easy the first 40 laps,” Turnbull said. “I was trying to keep my tires underneath but not drop far back. We had a good car.”

Last AJ Diemel appeared on his way to the win, but some cautions changed the race. Turnbull took over the lead and led the final 25 laps, holding off a furious charge from Diemel at the finish.

Turnbull, who runs a billboard business in Estevan with his wife, has only raced the late model a handful of times this year, but is looking for a good weekend.

“I’m not a guy who is overaggressive, but I’m there to win,” Turnbull said. “Not being able to race much this year, I wouldn’t be disappointed with a top five.”

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