Goodbye Chris EconomakiChris Economaki, known as the “Dean of American Motorsports,” died early last Friday morning. He was 91 years old and for most of us he was the guy who was always there, at every race. “The passing of Chris Economaki is a tough loss for me on both a personal and professional level, having known Chris throughout my life,” said Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO. “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.”

Economaki 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.  Economaki next turned his attention and energies to broadcasting, covering several Indianapolis 500s, Daytona 500s, Formula 1 Grand Prixes and other motorsports events for “ABC Wide World of Sports” in the 1960s. Two decades later, he moved to CBS Sports and later contributed to ESPN and TBS motorsports programming.

NASCAR Super Hero Jeff Gordon said; “Speed Sport News is something that I read religiously. Chris did a lot for that newspaper and for motorsports, and he was passionate about all of it. The last time I saw him was earlier this year, and still that is all he thought about was racing. And he cared so much about what was happening in this sport and wanted to make a difference and wanted to get those stories out there. It’s just not very often that you come across somebody that puts their heart and soul and entire life mission into that.”

Edsel B. Ford II, member of the Ford Motor Company Board of Directors: “All of us at Ford Motor Company are sorry to hear of Chris Economaki’s passing last night. He was an icon of the sport of auto racing and a familiar, knowledgeable face and voice to millions of race fans around the world. His influence on the growth of auto racing in the United States cannot be underestimated. National Speed Sport News covered everything from the greatest drivers around the globe to the local short trackers who competed for their families and fans around this country. Chris respected and loved them all, and they loved him back.”

Economaki, who switched from ABC to CBS in 1984, watched stock car racing (NASCAR) branch out from its Southern roots to become a major national attraction. In 2006, the Trackside Conference Room at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Media Center was renamed the Economaki Press Conference Room in his honor.  Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt remembered when Economaki pegged him early in his career as one of racing’s next big stars. “He saw the sport grow to where it is today and how it grew, including NASCAR,” Foyt said. “And he contributed to that growth. I’d say when he was in his heyday of writing that more people would read his column than any column that’s been written today by far. I know I did.”


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