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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Economaki (right) with Carroll Shelby (left) at Virginia International Raceway in 2007

Christopher "Chris" Constantine Economaki (born October 15, 1920) is an American motorsports commentator, pit road reporter, and journalist. Chris Economaki has been given the title "The Dean of American Motorsports."[1] Microsoft chose Economaki to author the auto racing history portion of its Encarta Encyclopedia.[2]

Contents

Biography

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Background

Economaki was born in Brooklyn, New York. Economaki’s father was a Greek immigrant and his mother a great-niece of Robert E. Lee. He saw his first race at age 9 at the board track in Atlantic City.[1] He was immediately hooked on the sport. He once attempted driving a midget car at a cinder track in Pennsylvania. "It wasn’t for me," says Economaki. "It was a really frightening experience. That was the first and last time I drove in competition."[2][1]

He hung out and helped some of auto racing's most famous drivers at the famous "Gasoline Alley" at Paterson, New Jersey.[1] He helped Duane Carter with the setup on his outboard midget car in 1938 as an unofficial crew chief.[1]

Journalist

He started his career at age 13 selling copies of National Speed Sport News newspapers.[1] He wrote his first column at age 14 for the National Auto Racing News. Economaki became the editor of the National Speed Sport News in 1950. He began writing a column called "The Editor’s Notebook", which he continues to write over fifty years later. He eventually became owner, publisher, and editor of the National Speed Sport News. His daughter Corinne Economaki is the current publisher. The newspaper is considered "America’s Weekly Motorsports Authority".

He has co-written an autobiography called Let 'Em All Go: The Story of Auto Racing by the Man who was there.

In the inauguaral World 600 in 1960, Don O'Dell's Pontiac smashed the driver's door of Lenny Page's Chevy. Lenny Page, who was lucky to even survive the crash due to the safety systems at that time, was near death afterwards, but Economaki rushed to the scene and aided Page until safety crews arrived. He was later credited with saving Lenny's life.

Television & radio

He began as track announcer at a number of major races in the 1940s and 1950s. He began at the July 4, 1961 running of the Firecracker 250 NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway for ABC Sports. He covered most ABC Wide World of Sports motorsports events, including several Indianapolis 500s, Daytona 500s, Formula One Grand Prix races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the East African Safari, and the Bathurst 1000. He would also cover Wide World's less glamorous motorsports assignments, such as demolition derbies.

After 23 years he switched to CBS Sports. He covered International Race of Champions (IROC) events, Daytona 500s, and Formula One Grand Prix events.

He contributed to ESPN's Speedweek, and TBS' Motorweek Illustrated. He covered Formula One events on ESPN in 1987 and 1988.

He has covered several types of autoracing including sprint cars, Championship Cars, stock cars, drag racers, and CanAm cars.

Economaki is a part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network coverage of the Indianapolis 500, contributing essays and analysis.

Awards/Halls of Fame

He has received numerous major awards. He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1994.[3] He was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1993. He was awarded the 1990 NASCAR Award of Excellence, and the NASCAR Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.

Other career awards include: inducted in the Oceanside Rotary Club of Daytona Beach Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame in 1993,[4] Tom Marchese Award, 1973 Hernry McLemore Award, 1978 Ken Purdy Award, 1981 Ray Marquette Award, first recipient of the 1982 Patrick Jacquemart Award, 1984 Dave Fritzlen Award (by the Chicago Boys Club), 1984 Walt Ader Memorial Award, the first Hugh Deery Memorial Award for Service to Auto Racing, the 1990 USAC Presidential Award, 1990 Charlotte Speedway Award, 2000 NASCAR/Federal Mogul Buddy Shuman award, the 2001 International Automotive Media Council Lifetime Achievement Award, and was inducted in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2002.

The Economaki Champion of Champions Award is named after him.

A day at the Dodge Charger 500 at the Darlington Speedway race weekend is named "Chris Economaki Day"

The press room at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was named the Economaki Press Conference Room in 2006.[5]

Acting career

Economaki appeared as a pit reporter in the movies Stroker Ace and Six Pack.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Biography at the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame
  2. ^ a b Biography at the National Speed Sport News
  3. ^ Chris Economaki at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
  4. ^ Chris Economaki at the Stock Car Hall of Fame
  5. ^ Kelly, Paul. Legendary Racing Journalist Economaki Honored By IMS, Indianapolis Motor Speedway PR, May 27, 2006

External links


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