Mother Nature was the big winner last weekend in dirt-track racing in our area, as every track canceled last weekend except for Daugherty Speedway in Boswell.

North Vernon racer Trent Low took advantage of the opportunity and headed to Daugherty, where he picked up his first feature win of 2016. Low started third in the Crate Late Model main event, took the lead on the second lap and never looked back.

Not only was it Low’s first win of the season, but it also was his first in his new partnership with Royal Purple Oil. Low was among a handful of drivers that Royal Purple chose to work with in 2016. Besides Low, the list includes fellow North Vernon sprint-car racer Drew Abel. The sponsorship placement also includes sprint-car veteran Jon Stanbrough and NHRA drag racer Tim Wilkerson.

During the offseason, Low was approached by North Vernon native John Paul Hyden and IndyCar veteran Davey Hamilton, who represent Royal Purple with their company, Indianapolis-based Calumet Specialty.

“It’s been great to work with them and build a partnership,” Low said. “These guys (Hyden and Hamilton) know their stuff when it comes to racing and their products. These two put faith in me and my team to represent their products and company both on and off the track.”

Hamilton, an 11-time starter in the Indianapolis 500, is pleased with the results so far.

“Tim Wilkerson got a win at Phoenix in February and Trent won the other night,” he said. “Even though my background is in pavement racing, I have run about 50 times on dirt and really enjoy it. To help these guys at the grassroots level and knowing they will help us grow the Royal Purple name means a lot to everyone involved.”

With so many race teams struggling to find sponsorship nowadays, Low — who leads the Daugherty Speedway points standings — said it is refreshing to see a company put money into a weekend racers’ efforts.

“Local racing is a great way to advertise,” he said. “Whether it is on the track, in the pits, walking through the grandstands or on social media outlets, you are the advertisements for your sponsors. It is up to the driver and crew to decide if they are positive or negative advertisements.”

Hamilton knows the power that grassroots dirt-track racing can have on a sponsor like Royal Purple. He was involved in a partnership that for three years promoted the legendary Terre Haute Action Track.

“We had a lot of people step up with sponsorship to help us while we were at Terre Haute,” Hamilton said. “It was in a lot of disrepair. We put a ton of money and effort to get it back to an elite facility.

“There are so many good dirt tracks here in Indiana. You go to any one of them on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday Night and you will see full fields of cars and some great race car drivers.”

Low’s sponsors include Royal Purple Synthetic Oils, B&B Manufacturing, Slicker Graphics, LED Foot Products, T&S Farms, Accu-Force Dynos and Testers, All Natural Assets, Zimmerman Brothers Speed Shop, Right Auto Parts and Neuline.

Twin Cities season opener tonight

The Twin Cities Raceway Park in Vernon will officially get it’s 2016 racing season underway tonight. For the second year in a row, the track will be under the direction of Columbus’ Rick Robinson. On the race program will be Crate Late Models, Modifieds, Super Stocks, Pure Stocks, and Hornets.Brownstown set for tonightFor the second time this season, the Indiana Icebreaker was canceled due to inclement weather last weekend. It will not be made up. On the race card tonight at Brownstown Speedway will be the Indiana Pro Late Models, Modifieds, Super Stocks, Pure Stocks, and MMSA Mini-Sprints.

Eldora ready to go tonight

Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, will launch its 2016 racing season tonight. The race program will consist of the Sunoco American Late Model Series, Modifieds and Eldora Stocks.

Lawrenceburg in action tonight

The Lawrenceburg Speedway will host its second event of the season tonight. It will be a regular show with 410 Non-wing Sprints, Modifieds, Pure Stocks and Hornets.

Bloomington sets special price

The Bloomington Speedway will be running the first of its special $5 admission nights Friday night. Racing will be the 410 non-wing Sprints, RaceSaver Sprints, Modifieds and Super Stocks.

This week in racing history

Chuck Gilpin led a trio of Columbus racers to the finish line in winning the 1976 season opener at Twin Cities. Gilpin’s win in the Sportsman class was his second in a row as he won the season opener at Brownstown Speedway the week before.Powell Ballard finished second to Gilpin at Twin Cities, followed by Herman Burton, Bearcat Chaplin of North Vernon and Daryl Herbert. Johnny Robbins won the 6-cylinder feature.

Meanwhile, at Brownstown Speedway, Illinois invader Doug McCammon won his first feature at the Jackson County oval. John Davis finished second, followed by Jim Graves, Steve Trabue and Noel Witcher.

Ed Hall won the Hobby Stock feature over Ed Covey and John Mull.

James Essex is the motorsports columnist for The Republic, a sister paper of The Tribune. Send comments to