NASCAR Hall of Famer Cotton Owens dies at 88

Cotton Owens
Cotton Owens

Cotton Owens, a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s fourth class, didn’t live to experience his own induction, but to his friend and fellow Hall of Famer David Pearson, being selected for the Hall was the culmination of a dream for his former car owner.

Owens, 88, died at his Spartanburg, S.C., home Thursday morning after battling lung cancer for more than seven years. On May 23, two days after his 88th birthday, Owens learned he had been voted into the Hall. Because of his illness, he was unable to attend the announcement, but Pearson said the selection was not lost on his friend.

“He was aware of everything,” Pearson told the NASCAR Wire Service during a phone call Thursday afternoon. “It really meant a lot to him. I just wish he could have been there for the ceremony.”

The induction ceremony for the five members of the 2013 Hall of Fame class will take place on Feb. 8 next year.

“This is a sad day for the NASCAR industry, but we are all consoled by the fact that Cotton was voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame before his death,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “Today we have lost a portion of our past. But people like Cotton Owens are the reason our sport thrives today — and can look forward to a promising future.”

Pearson won the first of his three championships in NASCAR’s foremost series driving Owens’ No. 6 Dodge. All told, Pearson won 27 races in 170 starts driving Owens’ equipment.

Owens began his racing career as a driver. In what is now called NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour, he won more than 100 features and division championships in 1953 and 1954, earning him the nickname “King of the Modifieds.”

Owens also collected nine victories in NASCAR’s top division (now called Sprint Cup), the last coming at Richmond in 1964, when he beat Pearson to the checkered flag.

As an owner, Owens won 38 times in 405 starts in the Cup series. Owens fielded cars for a list of luminaries that included Pearson, Junior Johnson, Bobby Isaac, Ralph Earnhardt, Benny Parsons, Glenn “Fireball” Roberts, Mario Andretti, Jim Paschal, Buddy Baker, Charlie Glotzbach and Al Unser.he thrilled early-day fans with his patented broadsliding on dirt tracks. Not only a gifted driver, he was a fine mechanic and was a championship car owner. He also mentored many drivers, among them David Pearson. Another chapter of history closes today as the racing world has lost a great friend and pioneer, Everett “Cotton” Owens.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.