Cotton Owens and The Cotton Picker Go Drag Racing
In the sixties, a race attraction in Atlanta was to pair up a NASCAR stars in a Super Stock match race against one of Atlanta's top dragsters or occasionally against another NASCAR star. According to Arnie Beswick, the strip promoters would arrange for a NASCAR star to drive a local car provided by Phil Bonner, Dyno Don Nicholson, Hubert Platt, or Huston Platt. Following the NASCAR ban on the Chrysler Hemi in the mid-sixties, some NASCAR stars built their own drag machines.
Cotton Owens built a Dodge Dart station wagon for drag racing. He recalls it was a great experience. Cotton put a Hemi in the back of a 1965 Dodge Dart station wagon, painted it yellow and called it The Cotton Picker.
You could adjust the car to transfer so much weight to the rear wheels it would do wheelies.
Match races were held between May 1963 and May 1966. Most of these races took place at Yellow River Dragstrip or Southeastern International Dragway in Dallas, but were also staged at Cumming and Atlanta Speed Shop Dragway. NASCAR stars involved include Fireball Roberts, Fred Lorenzen, Parnelli Jones, Wendell Scott, Richard Petty, Lee Roy Yarbrough, Cotton Owens, Curtis Turner, Jr. Johnson and Darel Dierenger.
Phil Bonner often provided a Ford 63 Galaxie or 64 Thunderbolt for these match races when a Ford NASCAR star was involved. Bonner actually had a second car used for these match races, sponsored by LaFayette Ford, although his own car was sometimes used.
The Cotton Picker is now owned by a collector, Marco DeCesaris from Maryland.