Al Cotey was born in Chicago, Illinois. He started racing in the late 1917 on dirt and board tracks. He tried to qualify for the Indy 500 in 1919 in a Duesenberg but failed to make the grid. He also participated in the Elgin road races that year.
He became a car owner and when Herb Jones was killed qualifying for the 1926 Indianapolis 500, Cotey persuaded John Duff to take on his hastily rebuilt Indy Miller. Duff started last of 28 and eventually climbed to 9th place overall by the end of the race.
The following year Cotey himself took the wheel, eight years after his first attempt. This time he qualified in 29th spot and went out with a broken universal joint after 87 laps.
He died in New Smyrna Beach, Florida in 1974.