Cotton Owens: NASCAR Legend, Local Hero

In the road of life there is certain to be a green flag (birth) to a checkered flag (rolling of the hearse). Before NASCAR was America’s number two spectator sport on Sunday afternoons, a bunch of old Moonshiners would build hot rods made for speed. It was the speed that was needed to outrun the police when they were on a run with a cargo full of fresh out-of-the-still moonshine. These machines became such an attraction that contests began of racing to see who had the fastest car. That evolved in the sport that today is called NASCAR, which has become a brand name that makes massive revue with diehard fans.

My pal Drew “Cooler” Miller can tell you a thing or two about camping out in “Jelloville” at Bristol. It’s a big deal now with billions of dollars of sponsors investing in the industry. The stock car racing of old wasn’t as high tech as it is now, with gadgets we shall never know of in today’s sport and it was men like Everett Owens (“Cotton” Owens) who were true pioneers in the early stages of the sport.

Cotton was born in Union County, South Carolina before he grew up in my local town of Spartanburg (SC) and would begin racing for five seasons. During that time, he was christened the nickname “King of the Modifieds.”  The achievements of the NASCAR Hall of Famer would include the cup championship along with wining the prestigious Daytona Speedway. He was the first ever man to race in the sand with an average speed of 100mph. Recently, at our fantastic indie book store in downtown Spartanburg HUB-CITY book store, I had the honor to meet Mr. Cotton Owens and ask to write a piece in the future for Outlaw Magazine.  He was up for it and I shook his hand. He was well known in the area and ran the Cotton Owens gas station in the 50s and 60s. Unfortunately, I never met up with him again. On June 7th,  Cotton Owens took the checkered flag in this life as his seven year battle with lung cancer came to a close. He was 88 years old.

Here are some of his achievements:

· Announced as a member of the 2013 Inductee Class at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on May 23, 2012.

· Inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.

· Owens was announced as a 2008 inductee in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

· In 1970, Owens was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame at Darlington Speedway.

· Cotton Owens was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers during NASCAR’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 1998.

· Recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, the highest civilian honor awarded by the Governor of South Carolina, created in 1971 to recognize lifetime achievement and service to the State of South Carolina. September 16, 2006

· Member Darlington Records Club

· Member NASCAR Mechanics Hall of Fame

· Member NASCAR Legends

· Pioneer of Racing Award, Living Legends of Auto Racing, February 15, 2006

· Presented with the Smokey Yunick Award for “Lifetime Achievement in Auto Racing” on May 28, 2000

 

 

~ Jason Robinson

Jason Wallace Robinson hails from Spartanburg, South Carolina. He’s a writer, storyteller, philosopher, single father raising two children, music lover, dreamer, joker. He writes to speak for the Common Man. He enjoys football and driving around in his ’96 Chevy Lumina adorned with an American Flag and decorative bird offerings.

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