It is our sad duty to report that Chris Economaki, the legenadary editor and guiding force of the National Speed Sport News has died at age 91. Amazingly, Economaki began selling copies of the NSSN as a 14 year old kid in 1934 at local race tracks and through the years rose to become the editor of the magazine. NSSN for decades was the definitive publication in the USA for all things racing related. The man covered all forms of motorsports from the drags to stock car racing to Formula One, with side trips and adventures to many others along the way. He was known as a great broadcaster and race announcer as well with a distinctive voice that conveyed the highly emotional and action packed sports he was covering as well as anyone’s ever has.
His work with the National Speed Sport News stands as an amazing 60 year chronicle of auto racing both in the US and across the world. Lots of us loved to read his Editor’s Notebook column which often contained information and news that literally no one else on planet Earth had. Economaki was more plugged into racing decades before the internet, blogs, and cell phones than anyone today ever will be. One of the things that few people remember about Economaki is that he made his bones and fell deeply in love with racing working as a wrench for racer Duane Carter in the late 1930s. It was his experiences actually living the vagabond lifestyle and seeing racing from the inside out that got him hooked for life on motorized competition.
Economaki was also a veteran, serving his country like so many men did in WWII. Upon his return, he picked up right where he left off and kept preaching the NSSN gospel and building the business for which he would be most remembered and associated with. It was the 1960s that saw racing coverage explode on TV and Economaki was a big part of that as he appeared on NASCAR coverage to start with and then on everything from Indy 500 broadcasts to wacky racing events covered by ABC’s Wide World of Sports well into his later years.
We remember Chris Economaki today because without him, BangShift and others like us would not exist. He paved the way for people to make a living in the motorsports media, became one of the most influential and decorated racing journalists of all time, and educated the world via TV and print about the magic that happens on the tracks, large and small, all over the world.
RIP Chris Eonomaki.