Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cotton Owens passes away weeks after Hall of Fame nomination

(Credit ISC Archives/Getty Images)
Just weeks after voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2013, Everett "Cotton" Owens passed away this morning at the age of 88.

Owens was not only a driver, but he parlayed his success on track into success as an owner as well.

Behind the wheel, Owens took the checkered flag for a total of nine wins in NASCAR’s premier series competition, including the 1957 Daytona Beach road course which marked Pontiac’s first NASCAR victory. During the 1959 season, Owens came close to winning the championship but finished second to Lee Petty, fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer.

As an owner, Owens had an eye for signing great talent. From Junior Johnson to David Pearson, Buddy Baker to Charlie Glotzbach, they can all attribute portions of their careers to Owens.

Pearson and Owens were a very successful duo; 27 of Pearson's 105 victories were in a Cotton Owens Dodge. Together the Pearson/Owens team won the 1966 championship, a rebound from their third place finish in 1964.

Owens received many career accolades. The National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) recognized him in their Hall of Fame in 1970, in 1998 he was named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers, in 2008 he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and lastly, this year saw the grandest of all awards, the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Statement From The Owens Family:
 “The family would like to express gratitude for the thoughts and prayers of precious friends and fans.

“While Cotton was a racing legend with an incredible racing "family," we mourn the irreplaceable great granddad, granddad, father, uncle, brother-in-law and friend we have all lost. The family respectfully requests privacy at this difficult time.”

Statement From Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO:
"NASCAR has lost one of its true pioneers, with the passing of Cotton Owens. On behalf of the France Family and everyone at NASCAR, I offer heartfelt condolences to Cotton's family and friends.

"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. 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."

Statement From Winston Kelley, Executive Director, NASCAR Hall of Fame
“We lost one of NASCAR’s greats today. Our hearts go out to Cotton’s family, and we hope they find strength in the memories of his remarkable life and career. That career was topped off just a few weeks ago with his selection for the Class of 2013. In speaking to his grandson, Brandon Davis, he reiterated how much being an Inductee meant to Cotton and how much it lifted his spirit.

“I vividly remember when I first started following NASCAR in the early to mid-’60s watching his white and red No. 6 Dodge run up front with David Pearson and later Buddy Baker. I was just a child, but I still remember his car being a contender all the time. It was one of the ones to beat. In more recent years I remember how supportive he was of our initiatives. NASCAR recognized his career by inviting him to be an original member of our Voting Panel. You could always count on Cotton to be here for Voting Day and other hall events. He will be missed.”

Statement From Buz McKim, Historian NASCAR Hall of Fame:
“Cotton Owens was one of the first heroes of NASCAR. He was exciting to watch, as 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.”


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