Like many topics, the Internet has placed almost any interest within a search engine entry from our sight. The competition for many writers (including myself) is to attract readers by broadcasting a unique vision to a particular topic. In an era where live auto racing broadcasting is the norm or the ability to obtain up to the second information at the track is in reach, a Brooklyn, New York native born in 1920 grew up in a completely different motorsport media world. Passing away on September 28th 2012, Chris Economaki was declared “The Dean of American Motorsports”. Through radio, television and most notably working as the editor of the newspaper National Speed Sport News, Economaki devotion to motorsports competition secured him a reputation as legendary as the famous drivers is highlighted over the years.
Cementing his interests with motorsports early, Chris Economaki’s motorsports publishing career began at the age of 13 with working trackside selling a new publication called National Speed Sport News in 1934. Becoming a writer for the publication without any formal journalism training, Economaki’s career eventually propelled him to become the editor of National Speed Sport News. Eventually claiming ownership of the publication, Chris Economaki sat at the editorial post of National Speed Sport News for six decades providing a focused, legitimate journalism perspective to auto racing and motorcycle racing arena that, at the time, was lacking fair representation.
In 1961, Chris Economaki was brought into the fold of ABC’s Wide World of Sports coverage when NASCAR founder Bill France wanted an announcer who knew which way the cars went around on the race track at the Daytona International Speedway. That career in television broadcasting would span to ESPN as well as CBS for three decades. Economaki’s voice would become as iconic as his written words.
With Chris Economaki’s passing announced, tributes from the wide spectrum of motorsports flooded social media. Messages from past readers, present reporters as well as other motorsport press members opened up on their respect fro Economaki. Mario Andretti commented on Twitter, “American Racing Icon Chris Economaki helped my career as young racer immensely and for that I will be forever grateful. #RIP my friend “. NASCAR Sprint Cup driver for Hendrick Motorsports Kasey Kahne offered on his Twitter feed, “Always enjoy listening to Chris Economaki tell stories. Did so much for all of us in the racing world. He will be missed! RIP”. On the cable channel Speed, an encore presentation of a Chris Economaki interview with Dave Despain was played. The motorsport world eulogizing Economaki through the channels the journalism great perpetuated over almost eight decades of coverage.
Economaki was eyewitness as the composition of motorsport media changed over the past decade. With more or more racing fans acquiring their news from Internet sources rather than a weekly printed publication. At the time of National Speed Sport News’ final printed edition in 2011, Chris Economaki had already turned over the reigns of the media company to his daughter Corinne (her and a second daughter Tina survives their father). Sold to a new media company, the National Speed Sport News brand operates only as an on-line outfit.
His eyes have seen some of the milestone moments of motorsport. His ears rang with not only the loudness of various engines but also the rumblings of the garage and pit lanes. With his mouth, he spoke to his legends as many careers were being built with each race. Chris Economaki’s drive and devotion to a broadcasting profession has given many of us aspiring journalist searching for an audience so many lessons. Chiefly, present uncompromised coverage as not just a job but as an outlet for otherwise internal love.
At 91 years of age, Chris Economaki rose from the austerity of the Great Depression to be recognized as guiding voice of motorsports.
Information source: National Speed Sport News
Photo source: ESPN/NASCAR