Cotton Owens

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Everett "Cotton" Owens
Born (1924-05-21)May 21, 1924
Union, South Carolina, United States
Died June 7, 2012(2012-06-07) (aged 88)
Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States
Achievements 1953–1954 Modified Tour champion
1957 Daytona Beach Road Course winner
1966 Grand National championship car owner (David Pearson)
Awards National Motorsports Press Association's Hall of Fame inductee (1970)
Named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers (1998)
International Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee (2008)
South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame inductee (2009)
NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee (2013)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
160 races run over 15 years
Best finish 2nd (1959)
First race 1950 Daytona Beach Road Course
Last race 1964 Orange Speedway race
First win 1957 Daytona Beach Road Course
Last win 1964 Capital City 300 (Richmond)
Wins Top tens Poles
9 84 10

Everett "Cotton" Owens (May 21, 1924 – June 7, 2012) was a NASCAR driver. For five straight years (1957–61), Owens captured at least one Grand National (now Sprint Cup) series win. Owens was known as the "King of the Modifieds" for his successes in modified stock car racing in the 1950s.[1]

Early career[edit]

Owens was born in Union, South Carolina. His career began in the 1950s in what is now known as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He earned over 100 feature wins. He was the 1953 and 1954 champion.

Grand National driving career[edit]

Cotton's NASCAR (Grand National) career began in 1950 when he ran three races. He finished 13th in the point standings. Owens would enter a few races over the next several seasons without a win.

Cotton's first win came on February 17, 1957 at the series' premiere event: the Daytona Beach Road Course). Owens once drove a 1957 Pontiac to victory; beating runner-up Johnny Beauchamp by 55 seconds with the first-ever 100 mph (101.541 mph) average race on the sand. The win was also Pontiac's first NASCAR win. He had his next trip to victory lane in 1958 at Monroe County Fairgrounds at Rochester, New York.

In 1959, Owens finished second to Lee Petty in the race for the championship. Though Cotton only won one race that season (at Richmond International Raceway), Cotton was making a name for himself as a racer. He attempted 37 races that season, with 22 Top 10s and 13 Top 5s. In 1961 he had his most productive season with 11 Top 5s and four wins in only 17 starts. He had a win at his hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina (Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds).

Car owner[edit]

In 1962 he hired legendary driver and car owner Junior Johnson. He also started his relationship with fellow Spartanburg resident David Pearson. He came out of retirement in 1964 to prove that he could beat Pearson. He beat Pearson in his final career win (at Richmond). Two races later he finished second in his final career race (to Ned Jarrett).

In 1965, the Chrysler Hemi engine was not allowed in NASCAR. Owens and Pearson boycotted NASCAR, and ran a Hemi in the back of a Dodge Dart drag racing car. They ran nitro and alcohol in the Experimental class. They returned to NASCAR in 1966, and they won the Grand National Championship. They parted ways early in the 1967 season. During their six seasons together Owens and Pearson combined for 27 wins in 170 races.

Cotton was fortunate to have some of the biggest names in the sport drive his cars over the years. Drivers for Cotton Owens included many legends: David Pearson, Buddy Baker, Pete Hamilton, Marty Robbins, Ralph Earnhardt, Bobby Isaac, Junior Johnson, Benny Parsons, Fireball Roberts, Mario Andretti, Charlie Glotzbach, and Al Unser. In all, a total of 25 drivers climbed behind the wheel of Owens' cars in 291 races, earning 32 victories and 29 pole positions. In total, as a car owner and as a driver, Owens' career statistics include 41 wins and 38 poles in 487 races.


Seven years after being diagnosed with lung cancer, Owens died on June 7, 2012 at the age of 88, just a few weeks after it was announced he would be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame's 2013 class.[2][3]


(2008)Historic Speedway Group - Occoneechee-Orange Speedway (Hillsborough, NC) Hall of Fame Inductee.

  • In 1970, Owens was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association's Hall of Fame at Darlington Speedway.
  • Cotton Owens was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers during NASCAR's 50th Anniversary celebration in 1998.
  • Recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor awarded by the Governor of South Carolina, created in 1971 to recognize lifetime achievement and service to the State of South Carolina. September 16, 2006
  • Member Darlington Records Club
  • Member NASCAR Mechanics Hall of Fame
  • Member NASCAR Legends
  • Pioneer of Racing Award, Living Legends of Auto Racing, February 15, 2006
  • Presented with the Smokey Yunick Award for “Lifetime Achievement in Auto Racing” on May 28, 2000
  • Honored by the Vance County Tourism Dept., Henderson, NC with the “East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame Motorsports Pioneer Award” on October 16, 005
  • Recipient of the “Car Owner’s of the 1960s” award by the Old Timer’s Racing Club, 1996

Other notable achievements[edit]


  1. ^ Kimbrough, Bobby (7 June 2012). ""King of the Modifieds," Cotton Owens Passes Away at 88". One Dirt. Retrieved 8 June 2012. 
  2. ^ Caraviello, David (June 7, 2012). "Recent Hall of Fame selection Owens passes at 88". NASCAR. Retrieved June 7, 2012. 
  3. ^ Hembree, Mike (June 7, 2012). "CUP: Cotton Owens Dead At 88". Speed. Retrieved June 7, 2012. 

External links[edit]