One of the 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees, Everett “Cotton” Owens, passed away in his home Thursday morning at age 88.
Owens' NASCAR career featured time as a driver, mechanic and owner. His drivers over the years included Junior Johnson, David Pearson and Buddy Baker among others, and Pearson's 27 wins with Owens included a run to the 1966 NASCAR championship.
“The family would like to express gratitude for the thoughts and prayers of precious friends and fans,” Owens' family said 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.”
“NASCAR has lost one of its true pioneers, with the passing of Cotton Owens,” added NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France. “On behalf of the France family and everyone at NASCAR, I offer heartfelt condolences to Cotton's family and friends.
“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. 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.”
Owens, who was elected to the Hall of Fame May 23, will now be posthumously inducted on Feb. 8, 2013.
“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,” said Winston Kelley, executive director, NASCAR Hall of Fame. “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.”