CHAROTTE – NASCAR has lost a pioneer of the sport.
Everett “Cotton” Owens passed away early Thursday morning at his home in Spartanburg, S.C. He was 88 years old.
Owens is a 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee.
Cotton Owens has always had good timing: A man conscious of the clock as a driver, a mechanic and a team owner.
For a long time now, NASCAR Hall of Fame Historian Buz McKim has always considered Owens as one of the best ever.
“He was a pioneer,” said McKim. “He was one of the top 10.”
Winning in all phases of auto racing, the man is considered a legend, earning him a timely place at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“Not only have we lost an inductee, but I have lost an old friend,” said McKim.
“This is the first time we have had one of our inductees pass away,” said Winston Kelley, hall executive director. “Out hearts and our thoughts go out to Cotton's family.”
He said Owens' health had been rapidly declining. Kelley said he figured it had something to do with his recent loss.
“His wife passed away eight weeks ago,” Kelley said.
Kelley ordered flags to fly at half staff and the outside monitor to show his picture Thursday. He said the Hall of Fame will continue to honor Owens.
If there is comfort in his passing, both Kelley and McKim found it.
“There is some consolation that Cotton knew he was inducted, lifted his spirits,” he said.
They said in true Owens fashion, he got into the NASCAR Hall of Fame before it was too late.
He will be inducted into the hall of fame in February.