Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thoughts On The Passing Of Chris Economaki

NASCAR CEO Brian France: Brian France: "The passing of Chris Economaki is a tough loss for me on both a personal and professional level, having known Chris throughout my life. Many people consider Chris the greatest motorsports journalist of all time. He was, indeed, 'the Dean.' Chris was a fixture for years at NASCAR events, and played a huge role in growing NASCAR's popularity. I'll miss seeing him and of course, I'll miss hearing that voice. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughters Corinne and Tina and the rest of Chris' family."

Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Chairman Bruton Smith: “Chris loved the racing business as much as anybody you’ll ever know. He was a great storyteller because he knew so much, and he’d seen so much. He was just so knowledgeable and must have visited nearly every race track in the world. He was a walking encyclopedia when it came to racing and probably knew more about motor racing than anybody who is alive today. It didn’t matter if it was open wheel, NASCAR or what happened at the local short track, Chris knew about it. He made it his business to travel all over the world and he saw it all. There was no form of motorsports he was not acquainted with.”

“He was a remarkable man. I enjoyed every moment I ever spent with him. We will miss him. I don’t know where you’ll ever find another Chris Economaki, but I wish we had more of him. He was a great reporter, a great writer and a great announcer. He was respected by everyone in the business, and he was just great for our sport.”
Darlington Raceway President Chris Browning: “I have known Chris Economaki since I started my career in racing nearly three decades ago and I can honestly say that there wasn’t a more passionate person in the media who helped to propel the sport to new heights like Chris did. He was one of the most respected journalists in our sport and covered Darlington Raceway in a variety of ways, including providing expert commentary during ABC’s Wide World of Sports broadcast of the Bojangles’ Southern 500, during the early 1970s. He was a great man, great champion of our sport, and a mentor who I respected very much and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Iowa Speedway Chairman Conrad Clement: “Chris was a true friend of the Clement family, and of Iowa Speedway. I have known him well since Featherlite got into racing over twenty years ago, and I’ve been interviewed by him many times over the past two decades. He was fair and accurate as a reporter, editor and broadcaster, and he always acted in the best interest of motorsports. Chris was indeed ‘The Dean of Motorsports Journalists’, and he will be sorely missed by my family and me, as well as everyone involved in our sport. Our sincere condolences go out to Corinne and Tina and the entire Economaki family on the loss of their father and grandfather. Chris may be gone from us now, but his legacy will live on through the work of those he influenced and inspired.”
Watkins Glen International President Michael Printup: “It was with great sadness today that I learned of the passing of Chris Economaki. As one of the most prominent motorsports journalists of all time, Chris ruled the airwaves for over four decades as he brought action on the track into the homes of millions. Chris will be missed by the entire motorsports community, and we will never forget all that he did as a pioneer of our sport. We are honored that Chris’s legacy will live on through the gifts made in his name to the International Motor Racing Research Center here in Watkins Glen.”
New Hampshire Motor Speedway General Manager Jerry Gappens: "I had the pleasure of working for Chris at his beloved National Speed Sport News for nearly a decade. They called him the "Dean of Motorsports Journalism," and I truly believe that is true. Under his tutelage, I earned my Masters and PhD in this industry. He had great passion and the most diversified and intimate knowledge of all forms of motorsports as anyone in the history of this sport and industry. His journalistic instinct was second to none and he was fearless when it came to shoving a microphone in the face of an irate A.J. Foyt, Dale Earnhardt, Ayrton Senna or any other driver after a crash or controversial moment. His work was truly a labor of love and he crammed the equivalent of five lives into his illustrious 91-year tenure on this earth." 

Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell: “When I was young, and I heard Chris Economaki’s voice on the radio or television, I knew I was going to get real racing. That was one of the many great things about Chris, he didn’t beat around the bush. And that’s one of the biggest things he did for our sport, he took the real story of racing to America. 

“Chris and my grandfather (the late H. Clay Earles, founder of Martinsville Speedway) were great friends and I was fortunate to spend a lot of time around Chris. I’m going to miss him, and our sport is going to miss his great voice and talent.”


  1. I have to admire you, Dave - you're still following the story. While the past couple days have been a celebration of Mr. Economaki's life, the loss has to hit home for you, since you both traveled in the same circles and you knew each other. One of your icons and father figures is gone. My condolences go out to Chris's family and friends, and all those whom he touched in his life. That's a big list.

  2. Arute said something that reminded me of being at the Phoenix race in 2000. When he quoted Chris as saying "Young Man, my face is my identification."

    We were on our way to the pit area when this little guy with a hat came running up behind us, obviously in a hurry. It was Dr. Dirt. He said 'Keep up if you want anything signed!' I ran alongside and got a hat autographed Dick Bergeren-TNN.

    Then, here comes another little guy in a hat running towards us... Jack Roush. He stopped and signed some stuff, and then ran off to the pit gate. We see him talking to the security guard at the gate, and we catch up. The guard glances at our credentials, and waves us by. Then he looks at Roush, and says, 'I don't care who you tell me you are, you need to show me.' Turns out Jack had forgotten his credentials. We all stopped and pleaded with the guy. 'Do you have any idea how many cars this guy has here this weekend?! This is Jack Freaking Roush! We produced a program that had a few pictures and the guard relented.

    Jack just looked at us and said 'Well I'm glad you guys recognized me! At least someone here knows who I am. I thought the hat would have been enough!'

    Mr. Economaki will be missed. But what a great long life he was blessed to have, and we were blessed to share.