Roadrunners, Chargers, Magnums and Musicians

The dawn of the 70s would see the Cotton Owens Garage switch from Dodge to Plymouth, as Chrysler wanted to resurrect the marque by giving it more of a performance edge. The dominance of the Dodge Daytona and Hemi combination had given no choice to NASCAR but to outlaw both the car and the engine, requiring new restrictor plates on the superspeedways. For the 1971 season, Cotton Owens teamed up with Pete Hamilton, who would pilot his '71 Plymouth Roadrunner to victory lane at the 1971 Daytona 500 qualifier. Hamilton would start a total of 20 races, with 1 Win, 11 Top Fives, 12 Top Tens, and 2 Pole Positions. Other drivers included Charlie Glotzbach, Peter Gregg, and yet another Spartanburg native named Dick Brooks. During this era, the same car would often be re-bodied as either a Plymouth Roadrunner or a Dodge Charger, utilizing the same chassis and drivetrain but updated to keep up with NASCAR rule changes or factory dictates.

Another notable fellow to climb behind the wheel of a COG race car during this time was none other than legendary country-western musician Marty Robbins. Marty loved NASCAR racing and as he had the funds to do so, he raced occasionally. His cars were built and maintained by Cotton Owens up until his death in 1982, although he did drive Buicks for Junior Johnson shortly at the end of his career. Marty always tried to race at the big race tracks (Talladega and Daytona) every year, and then a smattering of the smaller races when time permitted.

In addition to his recordings and performances, Robbins was an avid race car driver, competing in 35 career NASCAR races with 6 Top Ten finishes, including the 1973 Firecracker 400. In 1967, Robbins played himself in the car racing film Hell on Wheels. Robbins was partial to Dodges, and owned and raced Dodge Chargers and later a 1978 Dodge Magnum in the famous purple and day-glo yellow paint scheme.

Pete Hamilton finds his way to Victory Lane at the 1971 Daytona 500 Qualifier

1971 Daytona 500

Atlanta 1971

Spartanburg's own Dick Brooks took a turn behind the wheel of Cotton's Dodges.

Pete Hamilton and his Cotton Owens American Brakeblok Plymouth, shown below at Texas World Speedway.

Pete Hamilton at Ontario Speedway in his COG Plymouth

Country-Western legend Marty Robbins piloted Cotton Owens Dodges for many years at the superspeedways and short tracks on the NASCAR circuit. His purple and day-glo yellow paint sheme was hard to miss. He would campaign under the #42 for much of his career, until he eventually surrendered it to Kyle Petty who carried on the Petty numerical tradition.