Famed broadcaster, racing journalist Economaki dies
Friday, September 28, 2012
Chris Economaki, "the Dean of American Motorsports” and one of the world’s premier auto racing journalists and a familiar face to NHRA race fans during ABC’s Wide World of Sports coverage of NHRA racing in the 1970s, died Sept. 28. He was 91.
"The entire NHRA community is saddened to learn of the passing of Chris Economaki,” said NHRA President Tom Compton. “He and NHRA founder Wally Parks were great friends, and Wally always appreciated Chris' efforts to recognize the power and intense competition of NHRA Drag Racing. He was a familiar face in the pits at NHRA events throughout the years and worked as a pit reporter for ABC's coverage of the sport in the 1960s and 1970s. We send our condolences to his immediate family, his many friends and colleagues, and his legion of fans in the world of motorsports."
Economaki, born in Oct. 1920, saw his first race at age 9 at the board track in Atlantic City and was immediately hooked on the sport. He began his journalism career at age 13 selling copies of National Speed Sport News, a publication with which he would become synonymous after becoming its editor in 1950. His weekly column, The Editor’s Notebook, was a must-read for auto racing fans everywhere, and the breadth of his motorsports knowledge was unparalleled. Economaki’s daughter, Corinne, took over as publisher until the final issue of National Speed Sport News was published in 2011.
Economaki was a familiar and friendly television personality, and, as a reporter for ABC’s popular Wide World of Sports program, he covered all of the big ones, including the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Formula One, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and, of course, NHRA’s Winternationals and U.S. Nationals.
He was also a reporter for CBS Sports and a contributor to ESPN Speedweek and TBS’ Motorweek Illustrated. He also worked as an analyst for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network.
In 2007 in Englishtown, NHRA presented Economaki with a Lifetime Media Award for his dedication, passion, and commitment to covering motorsports with a high level of excellence.
Economaki was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1994.
(Home-page photo by Tom Schiltz)