The “King of Modifieds,” Everette “Cotton” Owens was named into NASCAR’s 2013 Hall of Fame on Wednesday in Charlotte, NC after he narrowly missed making the top five last year.
Owens, who was born and bred in the Monarch area of Union, made his reputation as a driver and an owner based out of Spartanburg and joined Rusty Wallace, Herb Thomas, Buck Baker and Leonard Wood in the hall’s fourth class.
“We were all just thrilled,” said Owens’ daughter, Debbie Davis. “We feel he’s very deserving.”
Owens began his career in the 1950s in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour where he earned more than 100 feature wins and was the 1953 and 1954 champion.
His first win in NASCAR’s top series, now known as the Sprint Cup, came on Feb. 17, 1957 at Daytona Beach and Road Course — also bringing the first win for Pontiac.
Owens went on to collect eight additional wins as a driver before trying his hand at ownership in 1962, hiring the legendary Junior Johnson and later adding David Pearson.
In all, a total of 25 drivers climbed behind the wheel of Owens’ cars in 291 races, earning 32 victories and 29 pole positions. In total, as a car owner and as a driver, Owens’ career statistics include 41 wins and 38 poles in 487 races.
Owens found his relationship with Pearson to be extremely productive and the two teamed up to take the 1966 season title after finishing third two years prior.
During their six seasons together, Owens and Pearson combined for 27 wins in 170 races.
Pearson, who was named the Driver of the Century by Sports Illustrated, was elected into the 2012 class where Owens now joins him.
Battling lung cancer, Owens was unable to attend the voting session and announcement of inductees but was represented at the event by four grandchildren.
Meanwhile, Owens and several family members gathered at his home to watch the live televised publication.
“We were glued to the TV,” Davis laughed. “Then when they said his name, we were jumping around and hollering. The grandkids called from Charlotte and they were hollering, too.”
But Davis said Owens just smiled.
“He was very proud,” she said. “But he feels like there are some who should’ve gone before him. He’s very humble.”
However, many believed that Owens’ name would be called last year, and in fact, he only missed induction by one vote.
So, on Wednesday, when Owens was selected No. 4 in the vote total out of a field of 25 candidates, garnering 50 percent of the vote, the NASCAR community spoke loud and clear.
It was Owens’ turn.
It was time for the legend, the King of the Modifieds, to join NASCAR’s 2013 Hall of Fame class and receive his sport’s most prestigious honor.