One of the individuals nominated for a spot in the NASCAR Hall of Fame is Pioneer Dodge car owner Cotton Owens. NASCAR Legend and Hall of Fame driver David Pearson says Owens deserves to be a part of the hall of fame.
“He did a lot of stuff himself getting the car ready, things a lot of people hadn’t done,” Pearson says. “Anybody that deserves going into the Hall of Fame, he definitely needs to. I thought he might have gone in last year. I’d like to see him go in. I’d like to see him go in the Hall of Fame before anything happens to him. He needs to get in there right now. I think if he knew he was going in, something like that would help him a lot.”
In 1966, Owens teamed up with Pearson to win the Sprint Cup Series Championship.
“We set out to win the championship and we did it,” Pearson says. “That was a big accomplishment for us to do something like that, especially the first year that we really tried. It meant a lot to me, it really did.”
The season was full of success as they won a total of 15 of the 42 races and Pearson notes that a lot of the wins came on the short tracks.
“Cotton was a good mechanic, too,” Pearson adds. “He built the engines and everything. Every once in a while, he would stick something in there that I didn’t think had enough horsepower. “I remember running Greenville-Pickens one time. It was a dirt track and I told him ‘Cotton, this thing won’t run,’ And what happened, we broke the motor or something and he put a stock motor in the thing and I ended up winning the race with a stock motor. That was fun.”
Pearson spent a lot of time with Owens as he always at the shop helping work on the cars, helping with the welding.
“We got along well, we really did,” Pearson says. “I enjoyed working with him and driving for him. He never did do like some of the drivers say the owners do and try to tell ‘em how to drive and all that. He never said a word to me about what to do or how to drive. I drove it just the way I thought I could drive it and he was satisfied with it.”
There was also a lot of work that was done on the road as they’d sometimes run three races in one week.
“We’d go on to the next town that we were going to race in and we’d work on the car there at the motel,” Pearson says. “We’d change springs and things like that, whatever we thought was right. We run well about everywhere we went.”
Beyond driving for him, Pearson also got to race against Owens one time at Richmond.
“I was leading the race and when it was time to pit, they told me to pit,” Pearson tells the story. “I looked and here come Cotton in, so I had to sit and wait until they got through with Cotton’s stop before they could change my tires. When he went back out, he was in front of me and he ended up winning the dadgum race.”
Pearson adds that Owens always told everybody that he showed Pearson how to drive. Pearson teamed up with Owens as he had always been a fan of his and considered Owns his hero.
“I’d go by his shop,” Pearson says. “I always liked him because he’s in my hometown right here. He doesn’t live far from me and, in fact, I go see him quite often now.”
The relationship between Pearson and Owens worked out great as they also had huge support from Dodge.
“The Dodge people were the best people I’ve ever worked for, if you want to know the truth,” Pearson comments. “Anything we needed, we got it. We’d tell ‘em we need this or need that and they would get it for us. They furnished us cars, whatever we needed and whatever we wanted. It seemed like they’d bend over backwards to help us and give us everything we needed.”