By: Justin Stevens
Everett “Cotton” Owens, a driver and influential NASCAR team owner, died at his Spartanburg home this morning. Owens recently turned 88 and had been battling cancer for several years. Owens was elected to the NASCAR Fall of Hame class of 2013 on May 23. He did not attend the announcement of the vote because he was ailing, mostly because of his wife’s death in April according to his family.
As a driver in NASCAR’s premier series, Owens had nine victories including a historic win in 1957 at Daytona Beach, Fla., which was Pontiac’s first win. Owens almost won the 1959 championship as he finished second behind Lee Petty.
Owens gained most of his fame as a NASCAR owner in which his cars won 38 races and 33 poles in 405 starts through 1950-73. Bobby Allison, Mario Andretti, Buddy Baker, Ralph Earnhardt, Bobby Issac, Junior Johnson, Marvin Panch and Fireball Roberts were some of the drivers who raced under Owens.
Owens, who was born in Union, SC, received most of his success with David Pearson, who was also from South Carolina. While driving for Owens, Pearson won 27 races and the 1966 championship.
Owens, who was named on NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers list in 1998, was also known as a mechanic for building his own cars and motors.
Brandon Davis, Owens’ grandson, told NASCAR Hall of Fame executive director, Winston Kelley, that being elected into the Class of 2013 lifted Owens’ spirits in his last days.