On June 7th in the morning, Everett "Cotton" Owens, one of the 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductees, passed away at his home at the age of 88.
"The family would like to express gratitude for the thoughts and prayers of precious friends and fans," Owens' family released in a statement. "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."
Owens had a successful NASCAR career that saw him win nine times as a driver in NASCAR's premier series, incluidng the 1957 Daytona Beach road course.
As an owner, he was even more successful. He hired Junior Johnson as a driver in 1962, and then hired David Pearson. Pearson won 27 races and the 1966 Championship with Owens.
Pearson was one of the drivers that had said Owens deserved to be in the hall of fame.
“He did a lot of stuff himself getting the car ready, things a lot of people hadn’t done,” Pearson said. “Anybody that deserves going into the Hall of Fame, he definitely needs to. I thought he might have gone in last year. I’d like to see him go in. I’d like to see him go in the Hall of Fame before anything happens to him. He needs to get in there right now. I think if he knew he was going in, something like that would help him a lot.”
The 1966 season was full of success as they won a total of 15 of the 42 races with the majority of them coming on short tracks.
"NASCAR has lost one of its true pioneers, with the passing of Cotton Owens," NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said. "On behalf of the France Family and everyone at NASCAR, I offer heartfelt condolences to Cotton's family and friends."
On May 23rd, it was announced that Owens would be part of the 2013 Class for the NASCAR Hall of Fame and be inducted on February 8th, 2013.
"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," France added. "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."
“We lost one of NASCAR’s greats today," Winston Kelley, the executive director of the Hall of Fame said. "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 knowledge and insights 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 dearly missed.”