Alvin Farmer was born in Fort Worth, Texas and earned his nickname while a boy, from his white hair. He was a rodeo rider for some while before taking up racing in 1948.
In 1948, Al was driving the tow truck on assignment at a stock car race in Ft. Wort, Texas. he was asked if he ever thought of driving and, after watching the likes of Jim McElreath and Shady McWorter, he felt he could do better than any of them. He returned two weeks later with his own jalopy. He set third quickest time, started the race and within the hour was upside down. He also raced at Wichita Falls, Texas in 1949 and 1950. About that time he started stooging part time for Jimmy Reece and the John Zink team of Midgets.
In 1950 , he moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where he raced for five years, doing very well, winning the 1954 stock car title. Cotton then began some Midget driving and went to Indianapolis in 1955 hoping to improve his open wheel cockpit experience. From there he got a ride on the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) sprint car circuit. He also obtained his first ride in an Offy midget about this same time. He led a nomad's life, returning occasionally to his Fort Worth home. He broke his back during an IMCA sprint car race at St. Paul, Minnesota in 1959.
In 1960 , Farmer passed his drivers test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Whiile he had rides for the 500 the next few years, he never was able to qualify. In 1963, when he felt he had his best shot at making the race, he was badly injured in a Midget crash at Toronto, Canada, just prior to the 500.
Friends urged him to enter the Championship division of the 1967 Pikes Peak Hillclimb and car owner Don McCormick entered a car for Cotton. That resulted in near fatal injuries and the end of Farmer's racing career.
He retired from racing having won the Prestigious USAC Ted Horn-Bill Schindler Memorial sprint car race at Williams Grove, Pennsylvania; won eight IMCA sprint Features; he won several races with Tom Cherry's group; two USAC Midget wins; several IMCA Midget wins; and dozen of jalopy stock car victories.
Farmer was both a visitor to events and a friendly host to those interested in his era until recent illness, sadly, finally took its toll.