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NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Cotton Owens (Part 2/5)

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  NASCAR, Cotton Owens

NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Cotton Owens (Part 2/5)

Mark Martin
Kyle Owens
David Pearson
February 8, 2013


THE MODERATOR: 40 times this driver has been to victory lane and five times he was the runner‑up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings. Please welcome Mark Martin.
MARK MARTIN: Cotton Owens did so much for NASCAR in the early days, both on and off the racetrack. He dominated the Modified Series, winning countless times before jumping to the Premier Series, where he won nine times. However, it was his mechanical prowess and tenure as an owner that catapulted him to the annals of NASCAR victory. His drivers made it to victory lane 30 times with David Pearson capturing the championship in 1966. Cotton Owens will forever be remembered as a NASCAR legend that succeeded at everything he did.
(Video shown.)
THE MODERATOR: Cotton Owens was one of NASCAR's first major stars. He first drove in the Modified Tour before moving up to the Premier Series, where he also had a very successful tour as the owner of that fast No.6. Sadly, we lost Cotton last summer at age 88, but as you've seen, his passing came a number of weeks after he learned that he would be a member of this hall's class of 2013. Accepting Cotton's induction, please welcome his grandson, Kyle Davis.
DAVID PEARSON: Have a seat. (Laughter.)
It is my honor on this date, February 8th, the year 2013, to appreciate the Owens family putting Cotton into the Hall of Fame. He was not only a good guy to drive for but he was a good guy, he was a friend, and one of the best friends I guess I had as far as running with. Every Sunday after church I'd go by and pick him up and take him and his daughter out to eat, and it's been that way for years, I guess. Everybody thought when we split up we would be mad at each other or something, but we were both happy.
Anyway, I was glad to come out to do this, and the one that's going to receive the ring, Hall of Fame ring, is old Kyle here. Kyle, I'll give you the ring now. Thank you very much. I've said enough.
KYLE OWENS: I'm honored to be here tonight on behalf of my grandfather and my hero, Cotton Owens. This has truly been just a remarkable weekend, and I know it's one that I know my family will never forget. One of the things I've learned through this entire process is that the NASCAR Hall of Fame isn't so much about race cars or exhibits, it's truly about people, and I just want to thank NASCAR and everyone associated with this Hall of Fame for just this incredible experience that we all got to experience.
On behalf of my family, I want to congratulate the other inductees and their families. My grandfather would have been honored to go in with Herb Thomas, Leonard Wood, Buck Baker and Rusty Wallace. So we're glad to share this special night with you.
I truly wish my grandfather was here, and I wish my grandmother was out there watching. But that's not the plan God had for them. Now, this is a biased opinion, but in our family's book, there was no greater racer than Cotton Owens. My grandfather was one of the most humble, most loyal, hardest working men I've ever met. He took great pride in the fact that he could build a race car from the ground up, the engine, chassis, transmission, didn't matter, you name it, he could build it, then he could drive it to the track and drive it at the track straight to victory lane. There's not a whole lot of people that can say that. He was a wizard, truly, turning wrenches and behind the wheel.
It didn't matter if he was at Daytona or Darlington or at a Carolina dirt track with his grandkids. He was going to have some of the most reliable, best looking, safest, best handling cars on the track, and when you combine that type of mechanical ability with just his diligent work ethic, that he never stopped working, it's no surprise that we're here tonight.
I think my brother Brandon said it best at my grandfather's funeral: That Pop lived his life by four unwavering principles that he helped savor, and that was God, family, country and the 426 Hemi. I know first and foremost, Pop would want me to thank God just for blessing him with the talent and the ability to do what he did while providing for his family. He truly loved racing. Secondly Pop would want to thank his family, his son Leo, my daddy, for all the love and support. He would have wanted to thank his grandkids, in‑laws, extended family, everybody that helped him so much in his career.
Next he would have wanted to thank his long‑time friends Bud Moore and David Pearson. I can't tell you how much these guys meant to them throughout the years, and especially when their health took a turn for the worse because those guys came by and saw them weekly, and it meant so much to Pop.
Pop would have wanted to thank Dodge, and in particular his contacts at Dodge, Bob McDaniel and Frank Wylie. These guys were instrumental in his success with Dodge, and for that he always had loyalty to Dodge. I mean, ever since I've been alive, my grandfather has only owned Chrysler products.
Finally, Pop would have wanted to thank Dot for standing beside him and supporting him for 66 years. Dot Owens was as much a part of my grandfather's racing success as anyone, my grandfather included. She was truly the love of his life and just a pillar of stability in my family, and we miss her.
My cousin Ryan used a quote from Erma Bombeck to describe my grandfather. I think it's very appropriate. And what it says, it says, when I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have one single bit of talent left, and I can say that I used everything you gave me. Pop, you certainly used every bit of talent God gave you.
Thank you for being the grandfather that you were to me. Thank you for always being our hero. Thank you.

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