Members of the NASCAR community have begun to express their sadness with the passing of Everett “Cotton” Owens, a 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee, who passed away in his Spartanburg, S.C., home this morning at the age of 88.
The Owens Family issued a statement today, “to express gratitude for the thoughts and prayers of precious friends and fans. 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 Chairman and CEO Brian France said, “NASCAR has lost one of its true pioneers with the passing of Cotton Owens. 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."
Winston Kelley, Executive Director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame said of Owens, “We lost one of NASCAR’s greats today. 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.”
Hall Of Fame historian Buz McKim said, “Cotton Owens was one of the first heroes of NASCAR. He was exciting to watch, as he thrilled early-day fans with his patented broadsliding on dirt tracks. Not only a gifted driver, he was a fine mechanic and was a championship car owner. He also mentored many drivers, among them David Pearson. Another chapter of history closes today as the racing world has lost a great friend and pioneer, Everett “Cotton” Owens.”
Funeral arrangements will be announced by the family at a later date.