Friday, September 28, 2012

Chris Economaki Dies At Age 91

Chris Economaki
The “Dean of American Motorsports” has died.

Chris Economaki, longtime editor and publisher of National Speedsport News, died this morning at age 91. Economaki’s byline appeared in NSSN for more than 60 years, and his weekly column, “From the Editor’s Notebook,” was required reading for industry insiders and casual fans alike. In addition to his print career, he served as a pit analyst and commentator for ABC CBS and ESPN for four decades, becoming one of the most respected and trusted personalities in the sport.

An “old school” reporter to the end, Economaki was famous for pounding out stories on his Royal upright typewriter in a media center filled with laptop computers. The son of a Greek immigrant father and the great-niece of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, he witnessed his first live auto race on the old Atlantic City board track at age nine. Soon after, he began selling copies of NSSN at race tracks around the northeast, hitchhiking both ways and pocketing a penny for every paper sold. He became a popular columnist and reporter, was later named editor and eventually purchased and oversaw the publication for nearly half a century.
Rest in peace, Chris
At the recommendation of NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr., Economaki was chosen to serve on the broadcast team for ABC’s coverage of the 1961 Firecracker 250 at Daytona, the first nationwide broadcast of a NASCAR race. Over the years, his distinctive, nasal delivery and dogged devotion to the facts became a mainstay in the garage areas at NASCAR, CART, IndyCar, Formula One and NHRA events. Once denied admission to the garage area for the lack of a paper credential, Economaki huffed to the gate guard, “Young man, my face is my credential.”

Christopher Constantine Economaki is survived by his daughters, Corinne and Tina, and two grandchildren.

Sirius XM NASCAR Radio will honor Economaki’s life with a special presentation of his Sirius XM Speedway Legends interview, today at 6:25 PM ET on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio, Channel 90.


  1. Schreib1:12 PM

    I cant remember who said it this morning on the SIRIUS shows I listened to, but they said everyone has an Economaki story. My favourite was from about 1990/91. After Geoff Bodine was out of the race mid-race due to engine failure, Economaki was interviewing him on air, and I think it was Michigan mid season so silly season was in swing. Chris asked Bodine "so what about the rumors that have you leaving Junior Johnson at years end?" to which Bodine replied "Its just like the rumors of you runnin' around with all those women". I was shocked to see this, but Economaki, the professional he was, looked caught off guard, but smoothly transitioned back into the racing interview. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Economaki's. He will be missed.

  2. Anonymous4:35 PM

    Back in August of 1981 Chris selected a photograph I had taken at a a promotional event with a local television station trying to increase attendance to regional sprint car races in NW Ohio and Michigan. He choose it to grace the front cover of NSSN. To have that honor given to me by the man who provided world wide coverage for every local track in the world as well as introduced millions of people to the sport of auto racing through TV was certainly the highlight of my photographic career. Thanks Chris. And thanks for leaving our sport in the hands of some great people you coached along the way.

  3. I am saddenned to hear this, Dave. I'll never again be able to watch the opening moments of Speedweeks without having a moment of silence in honor of the man himself. I know he was a colleague and a mentor of yours, but more importantly, he was your friend. My condolences to his family, and to you Dave, as well as all of those who knew and loved him. Godspeed, Mr. Economaki.

  4. Au revoir, Mr. Economaki.