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Cotton Owens Career Highlights and Lifetime Achievements
Cotton Owens NASCAR Grand National Driver Summary

Inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on February 8, 2013, Charlotte, NC

Inducted into National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, 1970

Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega Superspeedway, 2008

Inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, Columbia, SC, 2009

Member Darlington Records Club

Member NASCAR Mechanics Hall of Fame

Member NASCAR Legends

Voted NASCAR 50 Greatest Drivers, 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

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, 2005

Recipient of the “Car Owner’s of the 1960s” award by the Old Timer’s Racing Club, 1996

1966 Winner NASCAR Grand National Championship (currently Sprint Cup) with David Pearson as driver

1959 Runner-up driver for the NASCAR National Championship to Lee Petty

Prepared first car to run 200 mph in a NASCAR sanctioned event at Talladega 1970 with Buddy Baker at the wheel of his 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona

Won NASCAR's first live televised race

Gave Dodge its last NASCAR victory in a wing car

Vintage decalsEarned Pontiac its first NASCAR win when Cotton Owens won on the old beach course at Daytona in 1957 driving a '57 Pontiac prepared by Ray Nichels

Helped open the new 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway with a world record qualifying speed of 143 miles an hour in a 1958 Pontiac

Winner of more than 40 races as a NASCAR car owner, including the Southern 500 at Darlington

Known as "King of the Modifieds"


BIOGRAPHY
Birthdate: May 21, 1924
Birthplace: Union, SC
Years in NASCAR: 1950-64 (Driver); 1950-73 (Owner)
Starts: 160 (Driver); 405 (Owner)
Grand National Wins: 9 (Driver); 38 (Owner)
Poles: 10 (Driver); 33 (Owner)
National Modified Division Wins: 200+
3-Time National Modified Champion 1950-1952

Year Date Track Owner/Sponsor Car
1957 02.17 Daytona Beach Course Ray Nichels Pontiac
1958 07.25 Monroe County Fairgrounds Jim Stephens Pontiac
1959 09.13 Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds Thunder-Chicken T-Bird
1960 08.16 Hub City Speedway Cotton Owens Pontiac
1961 03.04 Piedmont Interstate Fairgrds Cotton Owens Pontiac
1961 04.02 Orange Speedway Cotton Owens Pontiac
1961 04.20 Columbia Speedway Cotton Owens Pontiac
1961 07.20 Columbia Speedway Cotton Owens Pontiac
1964 09.14 Virginia State Fairgrounds Cotton Owens Dodge

NASCAR Grand National Driving Summary for Everett Cotton Owens

Year - Wins

1957 - 1
1958 - 1
1959 - 1
1960 - 1
1961 - 4
1964 - 1

Total GN Wins = 9
1959 Runner-up for National Championship

Total NASCAR Modified Wins = 200+
3-Time U.S. National Modified Champion
2-Time Winner Modified-Sportsman Feature on Daytona Beach and Road Course
54 Wins in 1950-51
24 straight Wins in 1950-51 - twice!

Buddy Baker pilots Cotton Owens' Dodge at Daytona International Speedway. (above)


1966 NASCAR Grand National Standings
Rank
Driver
Points
1
David Pearson
(Cotton Owens prepared Dodge)
35638
2
James Hylton
33688
3
Richard Petty
22952
4
Henley Gray
22468
5
Paul Goldsmith
22078
6
Wendell Scott
21702
7
John Sears
21432
8
J.T. Putney
21208
9
Neil Castles
20446
10
Bobby Allison
19910





Cotton Owens and Junior Johnson

Owens and Mitchell Coker's '60 Pontiac


NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers

COTTON OWENS
Hometown: Spartanburg, SC
Birthdate: May 21, 1924
NASCAR Driving Career: 1950-1964

Everett "Cotton" Owens was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers during NASCAR's 50th Anniversary celebration. Younger fans may not be as knowledgeable about the South Carolina native's career, but its safe to say he earned his place on that list.

His career began in what is now known as the NASCAR Modified Series in the early 50's. Racing on dirt seemed to come naturally to the young racer as he earned over 200 feature wins, including an incredible 54 overall victories and a string of 24 straight wins in 1950-51, a feat he repeated twice! Owens has said he preferred racing on dirt as opposed to competing on asphalt. He claims that he tried more than once to throw a car sideways into a corner on an asphalt track forgetting where he was. Cotton Owens won more than 200 NASCAR Modified division races and was a 3-time National Modified Champion during the 1950s before making the transition to the NASCAR Grand National (Sprint Cup) Series competition.

Cotton's NASCAR (Grand National) career began in 1950 when he ran three races. He finished 13th in the point standings and pocketed $1,100. He'd enter a handful of races over the next several seasons without a win. His first trip to Victory Lane came in 1957 at Daytona Beach and he followed it up with another win in '58. Cotton would become a 3-time winner on Daytona's old beach course.

His most successful season was in 1959 when he won two races, notched 22 top-10 finishes (through 37 starts) and ranked second in the series season-long points chase for the Grand National championship to Lee Petty, despite the fact that he did not drive a full schedule and was known to show up for any big Modified race. Though Cotton won only one race that season Cotton was making a name for himself as a racer. For five straight years (1957-61), Owens captured at least one series win -- Owens claimed four wins in 1961, all of which were in his home state of South Carolina. In 1961 he had his most productive season with 10 Top-5's and four wins in only 17 starts.

After retiring from driving, Owens became one of the leading car owners on the circuit and won the 1966 championship with David Pearson at the wheel. During their six seasons together Owens and Pearson combined for 27 wins in 170 races. In 1970, Owens was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association's Hall of Fame at Darlington (SC) Raceway.

Cotton was fortunate to have some of the biggest names in the sport drive his cars over the years including David Pearson, Junior Johnson, Buddy Baker, Al Unser, Mario Andretti, Fireball Roberts, Ralph Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, Charlie Glotzbach, Pete Hamilton, Marty Robbins and many others. In total, as a car owner and as a driver, Owens' career statistics include 41 wins and 38 poles in 487 races.

Everett "Cotton" Owens was one of the few to find success at all levels of this sport: from a winning driver to a winning car owner, Cotton Owens was truly one of the 50 Greatest.

Cotton Owens Career NASCAR Grand National (Cup) Series Car Owner / Builder Statistics
Year Driver Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings
Rank
Avg Start Avg Finish
1950 Cotton Owens
2
0
0
0
0
131 0 1,100
13
10.0
15.0
1951 Cotton Owens
1
0
1
1
0
0 0 225
42
25.0
5.0
1957 Cotton Owens
17
1
3
6
1
2,300 179 12,784
14
8.6
16.4
1958 Cotton Owens
29
1
8
17
2
3,700 241 6,579
17
8.6
14.3
1959 Cotton Owens
37
1
13
22
2
6,733 209 14,639
2
9.4
10.4
1960 Bobby Johns
4
1
3
3
0
1,173 366 46,115
3
5.8
12.2
1960 Cotton Owens
13
1
5
5
2
2,121 185 14,065
39
5.2
15.4
1961 Ralph Earnhardt
7
0
2
5
0
1,602 90 11,473
17
7.1
7.6
1961 Cotton Owens
16
4
11
11
2
2,694 58 11,800
22
7.5
9.1
1961 Marvin Panch
1
0
0
1
0
262 0 30,478
18
11.0
10.0
1961 Fireball Roberts
1
0
1
1
0
496 2 50,266
5
8.0
4.0
1962 Junior Johnson
4
0
1
2
0
671 648 34,841
20
7.2
19.5
1962 Cotton Owens
16
0
7
8
1
2,000 36 5,905
30
7.0
13.6
1962 David Pearson
3
0
1
2
0
1,055 2 19,031
10
7.7
11.3
1963 Cotton Owens
1
0
0
1
0
170 0 175
114
10.0
8.0
1963 David Pearson
40
0
13
19
2
8,697 178 24,986
8
11.2
12.3
1963 G.C. Spencer
1
0
0
0
0
210 0 13,514
18
21.0
13.0
1963 Billy Wade
29
0
4
14
0
5,997 21 15,204
16
14.6
14.7
1964 Earl Balmer
10
0
2
4
0
2,771 1 5,795
35
13.0
15.3
1964 Bobby Isaac
3
0
2
2
0
727 0 26,733
18
6.3
7.7
1964 Cotton Owens
2
1
2
2
0
466 54 3,400
80
4.0
1.5
1964 Jim Paschal
9
0
3
7
0
2305 0 60,116
7
12.4
9.3
1964 David Pearson
61
8
29
42
12
13,225 2256 45,542
3
5.2
8.3
1964 Larry Thomas
2
0
0
0
0
403 0 21,226
8
14.5
18.5
1964 Billy Wade
3
0
1
2
0
485 0 36,095
4
6.0
9.3
1965 David Pearson
14
2
8
11
1
3242 744 8,925
40
4.1
8.7
1966 Mario Andretti
1
0
0
0
0
78 0 395
 
8.0
31.0
1966 Bobby Isaac
1
0
0
0
0
293 0 615
53
26.0
30.0
1966 David Pearson
42
15
26
33
7
10,781 3174 78,194
1
5.6
6.4
1967 Bobby Allison
9
1
7
8
0
1,971 51 58,250
4
5.8
6.8
1967 Buddy Baker
4
0
1
1
0
589 0 46,949
15
6.5
16.2
1967 Darel Dieringer
3
0
0
0
0
585 35 34,709
12
16.7
21.3
1967 Ray Hendrick
1
0
0
0
0
107 0 175
112
15.0
21.0
1967 Sam McQuagg
6
0
2
2
0
1,053 8 10,045
36
5.8
21.8
1967 David Pearson
10
2
4
6
0
2,066 340 72,650
7
5.6
11.0
1968 Buddy Baker
1
0
0
0
0
59 0 56,023
13
15.0
25.0
1968 Charlie Glotzbach
19
1
9
11
3
4,336 332 43,100
19
5.7
13.4
1968 Al Unser
1
0
1
1
0
200 1 6,250
 
8.0
4.0
1969 Buddy Baker
12
0
7
9
1
3,266 579 63,525
22
5.8
9.2
1969 Charlie Glotzbach
6
0
3
3
0
1443 82 37,515
37
4.0
14.5
1969 James Hylton
2
0
1
1
0
611 0 114,416
3
5.0
17.5
1970 Buddy Baker
17
1
6
8
0
3,605 485 63,778
24
6.6
13.7
1970 Sam Posey
1
0
0
0
0
82 0 900
 
9.0
28.0
1971 Pete Hamilton
20
1
11
12
2
4,407 224 60,440
24
5.0
13.6
1972 Charlie Glotzbach
3
0
2
2
0
709 0 26,175
65
9.0
11.0
1973 Dick Brooks
1
0
1
1
0
197 0 55,369
27
9.0
3.0
1973 Peter Gregg
1
0
0
0
0
34 0 775
120
7.0
37.0
23 years
487
41
201
286
38
87,242 9,952 1,323,837
 
7.7
11.5
Vintage decalsFebruary 17, 1957

Pontiac’s first stock car win came on February 17th, 1957 on the beach of Daytona (pictured at right). Cotton Owens drove a Ray Nichels'-prepared ’57 Pontiac to victory; beating runner-up Johnny Beauchamp by 55 seconds with the first-ever 100mph average lap on the sand.

Read more about Cotton's victory at the 1957 NASCAR Daytona Beach Grand National Race >>



May 6, 1961

Driving for Cotton Owens in the Rebel 300 at Darlington, South Carolina, Ralph Earnhardt, father of Dale Earnhardt Sr. and grandfather of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., makes his NASCAR Grand National debut.
Drivers Among Drivers

Drivers for Cotton Owens include: David Pearson, Buddy Baker, Pete Hamilton, Marty Robbins, Ralph Earnhardt, Ray Hendrick, Bobby Isaac, Junior Johnson, Marvin Panch, Benny Parsons, Fireball Roberts and Bob Welborn. Other notables to drive for Owens include Mario Andretti, Darel Dieringer, 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.
- - - - - Featured Cotton Owens Garage Drivers - - - - -

Chrysler Hemi Engine Cotton Owens and the Legend of the Chrysler 426 Hemi Racing Engine

In 1962 Chrysler Motor Company consulted Cotton Owens, Ray Nichels, Ray Fox, and Maurice Petty about its future in stock car racing. Owens mentioned to Gail Porter that Chrysler had a powerplant in the old Hemi engines of the 1950's and suggested that they convert them for modern racing. "I was more than a little surprised when he told me that if I was willing to come with Chrysler, they would build a completely new Hemi," recalls Cotton...

Read more about the Chrysler Hemi >>
Read the Story of Cotton Owens' Cotton Picker 1965 Dodge Dart HEMI
Marty Robbins races the Cotton Owens Dodge Magnum
The Legend of Cotton Owens
Everett "Cotton" Owens was born May 21st, 1924 in Union, SC. Cotton was also nicknamed "King of the Modifieds" for his hundreds of NASCAR Modified victories. He is considered one of the best mechanics in NASCAR history and he also wasn't too bad of a driver either. In his 160 NASCAR Cup starts, Owens earned 9 wins, 52 top 5's, 84 top 10's with 10 poles one of which was the 1960 Daytona 500. He went on to finish 2nd in that race.

The Red and White
Cotton's famous white #6 with red wheels and red number was one to be feared and one to be noticed on the track. In an interview with Christpher R. Phillip Cotton explained the reasoning for the unique paint job.

"I like it because it shows up real good on the racetrack. If you've got a scorer in the stands, you've got to keep up with the number of laps that you're running. You want to be able to see it and spot it real quick so you won't miss it, and get you a lap behind."
-Cotton Owens

Daytona Legacy
Cotton also told a story about the inaguaral Daytona 500 that was pretty interesting: "Fireball Roberts had a new '59 Pontiac. I didn't have one. So I went to my shop where I had four '58s that were wrecked. I took those four wrecked cars and put them all together into one race car. I showed up at Daytona a week later (than the other racers), and Fireball Roberts had the pole at 140 mph. I set a record by 3 mph faster than Fireball in my '58 Pontiac at 143.198 mph"

The End of Cotton's Driving Career
Owens first win came at the famous Beach at Daytona in 1957 where he won by nearly a minute over 1959 Daytona 500 runner-up Johnny Beauchamp. Cotton was the first person in NASCAR history to win a race for Pontiac which went on to win 153 more NASCAR races the last being in 2003 with Ricky Craven. In 1959, Cotton was runner-up in the standings to 3 time champion & patriarch of the Petty dynasty Lee.

Cotton Owens hung up his helmet in the early 60's and became an owner. He was the one that gave the "Silver Fox" David Pearson his first big shot. To show just what kind of guy Cotton was, listen to this story. When David Pearson first started driving his cars, he made a bunch of rookie mistakes dispite showing loads of promise. He made Cotton so mad that at Richmond, in 1964, Owens took a 2nd car to the race to show Pearson how it's done. Cotton won the race by over a lap over his very own driver and future 3x champion & 105x winner David Pearson. That was Owen's 9th and final career win as a driver.

Cotton Owens the Car Owner
Cotton won 38 races as a NASCAR owner in the Cup Series. NASCAR HOF'ers and legends Bobby Allison, David Pearson and Buddy Baker were just some of the names that won races driving for him. Along with 38 wins in 404 starts as an owner, Cotton's team earned 177 top 5's, 241 top 10's, 33 poles and lead nearly 10,000 laps. On top of all that, the Owens team took home the 1966 NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) title with driver David Pearson by nearly 2,000 points!

The father of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt also made his NASCAR debut driving for Owens finishing a respectable 7th. Some of the most famous names in motorsports drove his cars including David Pearson, Buddy Baker, Pete Hamilton, Ralph Earnhardt, Bobby Isaac, Junior Johnson, Benny Parsons, Fireball Roberts, Mario Andretti, and Al Unser just to name a few.

We Have Lost a Great Man
Cotton Owens was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame in 1970, named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers in 1998 and in 2013 he will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Cotton was a great racer, an ace mechanic, an outstanding owner and a wonderful man.

He passed away on June 7th, 2012 at the age of 88 after a 7 year battle with lung cancer. He is without a doubt one of the best and will always be remembered by the racing community. If you have any doubt about the toughness and incredible ability of Cotton Owens, you should know that he raced nearly his whole career with double vision. Rest in piece Cotton; we will always miss you & you will never be forgotten.


Cotton Owens Garage RetrocardsGearhead is proud to offer authentic, limited-edition (and sometimes exclusive) motorsports memorabilia, unique racing merchandise and rare nostalgia items that are not available from traditional card collectors and NASCAR souvenir shops. All Gearhead merchandise is of the highest quality, and we are proud to introduce our first edition of Retrocards™, a special high-performance brand of Gearhead that specializes in unique motorsports collector cards, posters, and novelties. These classicly-styled cards are authentic in every detail and are designed and produced in-house by Geahead Graphix Mechanix and offered exclusively through our website. Our introductory set of 4 Retrocards™ features NASCAR Legend Cotton Owens, a pioneer of motorsports and one of auto racing's great figures. You can read more about these special cards by clicking on the following link: Cotton Owens Garage Collector's Edition Postcards.
MODEL CAR ENTHUSIASTS: EXTREMELY LIMITED QUANTITIES! Cotton Owens Collector Cars - autograph available! Limited Edition die-cast cars, 1:64 scale and large 1:18 scale - completely authentic in every detail, you won't find these collectibles anhywhere! Each car from great eras of Cotton's career, both as a driver and as a car owner, are now available for the serious NASCAR collector. Various manufacturers and quantities available.
VINTAGE 1964 COTTON OWENS GARAGE BROCHURES!

These special brochures were originally printed in 1964 by Cotton Owens Garage, "Home of the Racing Dodges." The classic styling and vintage typesetting capture a special era of graphic design as well as racing nostalgia.

The brochure features full-panel stories on Owens, drivers David Pearson and Billy Wade, as well as big Maurice "Pop" Eargle.
These classic items tell a great part of the NASCAR legacy and are an excellent souvenir for any racing nostalgia fan or collector. These authentic Cotton Owens Garage brochures are offered in extremely rare quantities for the serious collector, and when the last ones are gone, they're gone!
"Understeer is hitting the wall with the front of your car. Oversteer is hitting it with the rear." - Fireball Roberts




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