Cotton Owens’ Dodge
by Tom Jensen March 08, 2021
Once a talented driver himself, South Carolina native Cotton Owens focused his considerable skills on building fast race cars.
For the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s newest exhibit, “A Legendary Decade: The First 50 Inductees,” we pay tribute to the Hall’s first 10 classes, from 2010-2019.
To showcase the breadth and scope of the quality of those legends voted into the first 10 classes, the Hall of Fame brought back one car from each class. The 10 cars on display now in The Great Hall were each originally used in the Hall of Honor displays of the respective inductees.
From the Class of 2013, the car on display is a 1964 Dodge that belonged to legendary South Carolina racer Cotton Owens, who was a double threat, first as a driver and then as an owner.
In the 1950s, Owens won numerous races in what is today known as the Whelen Modified Tour. Owens also won nine premier series races as driver, finishing a career-best second in points in 1959.
From there, Owens turned his attention to ownership, where he could apply his mechanical skills to building fast race cars.
Owens’ Hall of Honor car for his induction was a 1964 Dodge Polara, that fellow Hall of Famer David Pearson (2011) drove to eight victories and 29 top-five finishes, along with a third-place finish in the premier series points standings in ’64.
That car has been brought back to represent Owens in “A Legendary Decade: The First 50 Inductees.” The 1964 season was significant because it marked the first year of Chrysler’s legendary 426-cubic-inch Hemi engine, which Owens played a key role in developing.
The Hall of Honor ’64 Dodge, which was personally restored by Owens, features its original Hemi engine, making it an extremely desirable selection.
In 1966, two years after this car raced, Pearson and Owens teamed up to win the premier series title, Owens as an owner and Pearson as a driver. In the mid-1960s, every time the white No. 6 Owens Dodge showed up at a race track, it was a threat to win. And that’s a big reason the owner is an inductee in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.