Chris Economaki (91 years old): R.I.P. :-(

Rest in peace, Professor.

LOVED having Mr. Economaki on the CBS broadcasts. I also remember he had a few lines in some racin’ movies (Stroker Ace, Six Pack…)

A sad day indeed…

From National Speed Sport News Website:

Chris Economaki Dies At Age 91
by Mike Kerchner

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. ? The Dean of American Motorsports Journalism has died.
Chris Economaki, who began selling single copies of National Speed Sport News at age 14 and eventually became the publication?s editor, a position he held for 60 years, died early this morning at age 91.
His column, the Editor?s Notebook, was the most read feature in National Speed Sport News for six decades, and while Economaki?s contribution has been minimal in recent years, the Notebook, as it is called by readers, continues to be the most meaningful read in the newspaper, which debuted in 1934 when Economaki was 13 years old.
Economaki was also well known for his unique, recognizable voice, which he used first as a track announcer and later through nearly 40 years on television.
He worked with ABC?s Wide World of Sports, he was with CBS and ESPN, and it can be said he was one of the catalysts in bringing racing to television. It is not an oversimplification to say he knew racing and knew how to speak about it.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1920, Economaki?s father was a Greek immigrant and his mother was a great-niece of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Economaki spent his childhood in Ridgewood, N.J., and saw his first race at the Atlantic City board track when he was 9 years old.
He was hooked and by his 14th birthday he was a fixture in the racing world. Economaki sold his first copies of NSSN at Ho-Ho-Kus Speedway when he was 13. Papers sold for a nickel and Economaki got to keep a penny.
?I sold 200 papers,? Economaki recalled. ?That was $2. An incredible amount of money in 1934.?
Economaki soon began writing his own column, known then as Gas-O-Lines, while continuing to peddle newspapers.
Much of Economaki?s knowledge about racing cars ? and people for that matter ? was acquired during 1938 and 1939 when Economaki traveled the Eastern half of the United States as a ?stooge? (mechanic) for legendary midget racer Duane Carter.
?He would pay me $15 a week when he could, which was rarely,? Economaki liked to say when recalling his days busting his knuckles and learning ?tricks of the trade.?
After serving in the Army during World War II, including a stint in the European Theater of Operation, Economaki returned to New Jersey and rekindled his passion for auto racing, selling newspapers and announcing at race tracks throughout the East.
?I had guys selling them for me. I was selling 700 to 800 copies a week. Business was excellent,? Economaki said. ?One weekend, I can?t remember where I was, it was 1947, I sold a lot of papers on a Friday night, and Saturday night 50 miles away at another track, with even more people, I sold fewer than 100, and I couldn?t understand that.
?It dawned on me that the difference was the announcer.?
So began his career as a track announcer.
After more than a decade announcing at tracks and working as editor of NSSN where he took the reins in 1950, Economaki got his big break when NASCAR founder William H. ?Big Bill? France recommended Economaki be part of ABC?s first telecast from Daytona Int?l Speedway in 1961.
Economaki worked races around the world for ABC through the 1983 season when he made the jump to CBS where he appeared through the mid 1990s. He also worked worldwide Formula One telecasts for ESPN in 1987 and 1988.
?If he wasn?t aware of you, you simply were not a factor in the sport,? World Driving Champion, Indy 500 and Daytona 500 winner Mario Andretti said in 2004. ?If you weren?t on Chris Economaki?s radar screen, you probably weren?t on anybody?s.?
And that feeling was common throughout the motorsports industry.
In recent years, he continued to appear occasionally on Speed and more regularly on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network. All the time he continued to write the Editor?s Notebook and promote what had become known as ?his? newspaper.
Through the years Economaki has received countless awards including the NASCAR Award of Excellence, and been elected to numerous Halls of Fame, most notably the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
Economaki appeared as himself in the racing movies ?Stroker Ace? and ?Six Pack.? His voice was also used in ?Winning.?
He was preceded in death by his wife Tommye and is survived by his two daughters ? Corinne and Tina ? and two grandchildren.
Arrangements are pending.

That is a man who deserves a standing ovation from all race people. What a benefit he has been to all of us! Imagine the countless fans he turned on to racing. Very, very few of the racing pioneers have advanced our sport the way he did, and this racefan will be eternally grateful.

What a huge loss. Chris was my hero. This guy went EVERYWHERE, knew everyone. He’s been in the darkest parts of a lowly dirt track pit area, and had elegant dinners with Presidents and Kings. He could tell you, from memory, everyone that was around the table at a banquet in 1962, what they each ate, and what they wore. The man was a walking encyclopedia of racing knowledge, of ALL forms, from all corners of the world.

Most of all, I admire that the man made a living all his life, getting to follow his true passion. I think he’d agree that he never really “worked” a day in his adult life. When you truly love your job, it isn’t really work. And make NO mistake, this man LOVED racing, and in return, was loved BY racing.

Truly a sad day…

AMEN !!:engel016:

His mind was a history book of auto racing.

There will never be another one like him.

Tonight(Friday) on the Speed Channel at 11pm they are repeating that excellent show they did about and with Chris a few years ago instead of the scheduled repeat of Trackside at…

I highly recommend watching and recording that show.

There is a documentary / interview with him out there ( I think on 60 minutes) that I saw a few years back that was amazing…he has footage of races in the 30’s and 40’s and remembers all the racers…maybe it can be you tubed or googled
He sold programs as a kid for a nickel and got a penny for each one…thats how he got into the racing and got hooked

I subscribed to NSSN for almost 50 years, Why, Mr. Economacki. He gave his entire self to auto racing and was one of its best promoters. When he did a story the results not only told who finished where but also who were the listed sponsors of such cars. You don,t see that today and you do not have near the product loyalty from them as they have lost free ink. His column did not harp on the big cats[NASCAR/CART} but rather told stories of racers at all levels. His column was very much like Gary Londons who also quite frank about the good and bad in our sport. His biography can be found in Dave Argabrights book Letem All Go. God speed to you sir and thanks for all you did through your love of the sport.

There are very few people in this world in any industry that can honestly be described with one word… But he was one of the few: an Icon!

Had the honor of meeting him a few years back at the PRI race at Orlando. To this day I’m not sure I will ever fully realize or be able to appreciate what an honor and a privilege that was.

In my lifetime I’ve seen many a “great” humbled by his presence. What a loss.