Perhaps the greatest motorsport writer, editor, and mentor of all time, Chris Economaki has died today after a long illness. He was 91 years old. Son of a Greek immigrant, as a young boy of 13 he started selling the National Speed Sport, wrote his first published article at the 14, and never stopped until the last few years due to his health.
Regarded by many of today’s best motorsports writers and broadcasters as their mentor and friend, Economaki racked up countless awards and recognition. He saved the life of driver Lenny Page at the inaugural World 600 race in 1960, caring for him until the safety team arrived. Many media centers, including that at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, are named in Chris Economaki’s honor.
As he said to me once, “keep writing”, and it is a task that many of us continue with, because he was our mentor and friend. We will not see his kind again.
Another journalist once told me how much liked hearing the sound of his typewriter as he wrote his stories, and this was in the era of computers. One time she walked into the Indianapolis media center, and Economaki stopped her in her tracks. He was given an new typewriter that had an auto return function and it was causing him problems. "I do not know why I need this new one, my old one was perfectly fine," said Economaki.
So many memories that we journalists and photographers have to share; yet at the same time, so will his fans.
In 1990 he was honored with the Spirit of Ford Award, which goes to a person who has made significant contributions on and off the track to the sport of auto racing.
Edsel B. Ford II said about Economaki: " 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."
Story by: Lisa Davidson